The unofficial motto of the Lone Star State is “Don’t Mess with Texas,” in part, because we take our Texas pride very seriously: our football, our barbecue and our cowboy boots. Customers of Texas Traditions, the legendary custom boot makers based in our birthplace of Austin, can attest to this. With a three-year waitlist for new customers and a turnaround time of 13 months for old ones, Texas Traditions means business when it comes to their boots.
We sat down with expert boot maker Lee Miller (who apprenticed under the late, great Charlie Dunn and took over the business when Dunn retired) to learn more about what fuels his passion for crafting extrordinary custom boots and the meaning of being a Maker.
How did you become an expert in handling leather and book-making? Working for Charlie Dunn and his crew gave me an opportunity to work with highly skilled craftspeople, passion on their knowledge to me. I was an eager student.
What excites you the most about your job? I love making finely-crafted boots of vintage designs, mining past and brining back patterns form the golden age of boot-making, which was between 1930 and 1950.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job? I think being able to fit someone’s feet is the most rewarding part of my job. Many times, people come to me because they have fitting issues and can’t find comfortable footwear.
What is your favorite way to enjoy your coffee? Hot, black coffee.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words? Artist. Craftsman. Bootmaker.
What does being a “Maker” mean to you? I love making footwear, and being able to start from tracings of feet and making boots that fit, crafted in the finest methods that have been handed down from shoe and bookmakers over the years.