It’s never been easier for craftsmen to become manufacturers thanks to crowdfunding. Fans and buyers turn into investors and backers. Heck, manufacturing never left America: it just changed from bespoke to industrial in a bid to be more profitable. And now thanks to Kickstarter a small-scale boot maker in Flint, MI has a chance.
Meet the Buckham Boot. It’s a $500 handmade leather boot constructed and designed with materials that are made to last. Tim Goodrich founded Sutorial in 2013 and Cinthia Montague joined the venture in 2014. Together they handcraft each boot the company produces. The pair turned to Kickstarter to raise the cash needed to purchase the shoe lasts (the forms used to shape shoes in different sizes) and involve their customers in the project. Cinthia Montague tells me that if the Kickstarter campaign fails, they’ll go back to the drawing board.
“For us, a big part of doing what we’re doing is having the freedom to do what we love,” said Montague. “We get to set our own hours, bring our dogs to work, create our own boot and shoe designs etc. So, being that we’re in it for the freedom, it makes sense to raise the proper capital through a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter. We aren’t giving up any control of the business and we don’t have to answer to investors, just to customers. Not that investors are a bad thing, but for us, we’d rather have total control of our business if possible.
The Buckham Boot derives its name from a side-street in the dying factory town of Flint, MI. Buckham Alley is a safe haven in the broken city. It’s the perfect spot to build shoes in the city that once built America’s cars.
“First off, there’s sort of a philosophical commitment we have to Flint, being that we’ve grown up here and live here,” said Montague. “We want to see Flint do well and help it become known for more than just the negative things that get publicized. There are a lot of good things happening, particularly in the downtown area. We realize there are other areas than just downtown that need revitalizing, but for our business at this point, downtown Flint is a great fit for us.
“Secondly, because of the sum total of all the other good things, it makes it fun to be down here,” She said. “We are around a lot of good people with a lot of good energy. And it doesn’t hurt that our rent is pretty low. We’re in a space that’s sort of a business incubator, kind of like Pony Ride in Detroit, just on a smaller scale. Also, we have access to a lot of great food options run by great people who believe in Flint.”
There are countless Buckham Boots across America. Small scale manufacturers have popped up from Scranton to Kansas City. Tradesmen finally have the financial tools to leave the establishment and venture out on their one. They need to be celebrated and supported.