By Kathy Floyd Pioneer Sentinel
It all started when Leslie Thompson of Dean wanted to wear a pink outfit, but only had black and red boots in her closet. No self-respecting fashion-forward girl would mix red and pink. “I need to find a way to change this,” she said.
While coaching high school cheerleaders in Wichita Falls, Thompson had seen cheer shoes with different-colored inserts that fit behind cutouts to change the look of the shoe. Why wouldn’t that work for boots? Why couldn’t there be interchangeable color inlays?
Thompson set about designing a boot with special pockets behind cutout designs in the shaft that would hold the colored inserts. She wanted a comfortable, quality boot that she would be proud to put her name on. After much searching, she found a bootmaker who would allow her to use her own brand name and now has patents pending on the design.
Thompson draws the design and stitching patterns herself. She takes her inspiration from everyday things she sees that would make a good design. She draws the design and stitching patterns to scale to send to the bootmaker, and it has to be precise. “Sometimes the designs need revising, sometimes they come out the first time,” she said. Dusty Rocker Boots come in more than 10 designs now, with 20 different inlay colors.
Boots aren’t a new fashion accessory for Thompson. A photo on the Dusty Rocker Web site shows her as a toddler wearing boots as she rides her wooden horse. Thompson’s grandparents were farmers and ranchers and even though she didn’t grow up on the farm, she inherited a love of western culture and the rodeo life.
After graduating from Abilene Christian University in 2005, Thompson began teaching special education and coaching soccer in Wichita Falls. Thompson and her husband, Brian, chose to live in Dean for the country life they both wanted, and where they could satisfy their love of western heritage. They have a son, 4-year-old Slade. On the weekends, boots aren’t just a fashion statement for Thompson. They’re functional footwear when she shows reining horses.
One night at El Chico’s Mexican Restaurant, Thompson and a group of friends were thinking of what to call the new boot business. She had heard that when coming up with a name, to use something special, something with significance. Dusty was easy to think of there. It was the name of her first reining horse. Rocker took a bit more thought. “Rocker is however you want to take it,” Thompson said. It could mean “rocker chick,” or something more serene, as in rocking chair. The name has taken on a more special meaning now. Thompson’s horse, Dusty, died shortly after she started the boot business.
During the past year, Thompson has spread word about her boots through sales reps, trips to market in Dallas and by using the Internet. Stores from Wyoming and Nebraska to Tennessee carry the boots. The demand has been so strong that Thompson did not return to teaching this fall. She’ll work full time for Dusty Rocker Boots.
For most of the photos and ad campaigns, Thompson has used Clay County girls as models, and instead of telling them what to wear, they bring their own clothes and make the boots match, so no one ever again has to have a fashion dilemma such as the one Thompson had. That’s the beauty of Dusty Rocker Boots.
Dusty Rocker Boots are available at Henrietta’s Cow Palace Couture, 110 S. Bridge St., and at The Browse Shop, 1111 E. Scott, Wichita Falls. More information on Dusty Rocker Boots can be found on the company’s website, or on Facebook.