Artist’s business cobbles fresh looks to vintage leather
By Leena Dbouk
Photographs by Mark Cluney
Imagine a rugged terrain full of wildflowers with beautiful sprawling valleys that go on for miles, comfortably cradled by vast mountains that touch the sky.
For Nikki Edmundson, such a grand landscape serves as daily inspiration for her artwork-turned-business venture.
“I live in a rural town in Montana — a population of 150 — which looks on to the Tobacco Root Mountains to the west,” Edmundson said. “You can’t help but feel blessed, inspired and motivated when you live in Montana, and you wake up to her beauty every day.”
Edmundson has quite a unique business. The artist takes vintage cowboy boots and gives them new life by upcycling them and adding her own artistic twist.
And what makes Canty Boots (the name of her company) even more exceptional is that each boot has a unique design. Edmundson proudly advertises that no two boots are alike.
“Canty Boots are design patented; they are all high quality, name brand boots and redesigned with vintage leather straps,” she said.
“No two pair are alike, and I take so much pride in the quality of Canty’s versus other re-designed boots on the market. I feel, sincerely, that I have a pair for every girl whatever (her) style.
“I usually use a vintage boot and vintage leather straps or belts, which makes them one-of-a-kind and impossible to mass produce. Even if I use a new boot, I always use old leather straps to ensure that they cannot be duplicated. When I tell people they are one-of-a-kind, I want to mean it.”
Edmundson has always had a flair for the creative, whether it was through painting, drawing, sewing or scrapbooking.
“When I started making Canty Boots, I felt that I was making art and creating for each individual rather than touching on one look or trend.”
Edmundson started making boots in 2010.
“I made the first pair and showed my husband — a real cowboy — and when he gave me his nod of approval, I felt like I really had something. Canty Boots have come a long way since then.”
For example, in the beginning, she would find whatever boots and belts that shops had lying around. Now, Edmundson will take an old family member’s boots and recycle them.
“I have had lots of customers send in mom or dad’s old belts and boots to make a special pair, and it really makes my job so special. I never could have imagined, in the beginning, that I could be a part of people’s lives in such an emotional, meaningful way — with boots!”
And almost every boot that gets sent to her has a neat story attached to it.
“She sent in a pair of her grandmother’s vintage Tony Lamas and her grandfather’s old belt and wanted me to combine them so she could wear them on her wedding day.
“She wrote me after the wedding and said that she was so emotional walking down the aisle because she felt like they were with her. I still get emotional when I think about it.”
And while the rugged West and other artists continue to inspire Edmundson, it’s the love and support of her family that keeps her going.
“Tucker — my husband — has supported my dreams, goals and endeavors and has contributed immensely to any and all of my successes,” she said.
“He and I met in 2004, in a bar, no less. He stopped me on my way to the bathroom, and we talked until the bar closed. I told my best friend the next day that I was going to marry him.”
Edmundson and her husband spent the next several months in a long distance relationship — each attending colleges 300 miles apart. But it was the first time Edmundson had met a “real” cowboy, and she was smitten.
“I say ‘real’ because so many guys wear a cowboy hat or Wranglers, but they don’t live the cowboy life. Tucker is the real deal,” she said.
“He talked about his mom’s cooking and his sister’s heart. He gets excited about farm equipment, the weather and different species of grass — yes, grass. There is something about a man that loves the Lord, the land, family and his work that made me realize instantly I couldn’t let him get away.
“Together, we have four beautiful kids: Cutler, Cormac, Ruby and Redmond. I’m very thankful for our life and all of our blessings. I’m so lucky and so loved.”
Boots can be rented or purchased through Edmundson’s website, www.cantyboots.com.