Making a mark in the national fashion scene from Harrison, Montana - population 137.
Canty Boots’ Founder Nikki Edmunds has deep roots in Montana. She was born and raised in Butte, and graduated from the University of Montana-Western in Dillon with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In 2012, she and her husband moved to the small town of Harrison, Montana so her husband could continue the family ranching legacy with his dad.
Nikki had always been creative and interested in fashion, but didn’t think of herself as an entrepreneur or imagine her creations would turn into a business. Her perspective changed in 2011 when she bought a pair of eel skin boots in an antique store in Butte, but couldn’t wear them much because they were tight in the calves. In order to make them work she cut and folded the boot top, decorated the overlap, and then headed to town for errands. The compliments she received from both men and women made it clear she had something that people would want to buy. When she got home that night she told her husband she was going to start selling her handcrafted boot designs, and Canty Boots was born.
The customers came first. And everything else got figured out from there.
Well…let’s back up a little. Nikki’s boot design/crafting business actually sold several pairs before she officially named it Canty Boots. By definition the word Canty means lively, upbeat and in good spirits. She loved the sound of the word and how it captured how she felt about the boots she was making - and especially how she wanted others to feel when wearing them.
The distinct craftsmanship of the boots has also been a journey. At first Nikki was simply folding the boots, and later decided to cut, sew, and fold them to give limitless custom design ideas to every pair she makes. To keep up with that attention to detail she hired a very skilled cobbler/ seamstress from Harrison who has now worked closely with Nikki for over three years. As orders picked up she brought on two other employees that work on designs, a few hired boot pickers that find score great vintage finds out of state, as well as a west coast sales rep.
Digging her heels in - growing Canty Boots from the ground up.
Canty Boots has grown the most in the past two years due to Nikki’s willingness to learn and persevere. She considers herself very fortunate to have savvy business friends and mentors that have taught and guided me over the past 8.5 years. She’s also put in her own sweat equity - including working tirelessly for three years to get into a high-end store called Kemo Sabe with locations in Aspen, Vail and Las Vegas. Once she got in to those locations everything blew up: “I respect their business so much and the store is so beautifully curated. I still pinch myself that my boots are in there.”
Most of Canty’s custom orders are shipped in the US, and she’s sent orders to every state including Alaska and Hawaii. The growing business also sells lots of boots to Canadians and Australians, but the majority of orders still stay in Montana - a fact that brings Nikki a certain joy:
“Montana has been really good to me. My clients are loyal and supportive. We had our grand opening last Saturday and the turnout brought me to tears. People flew in from Texas and California, and drove all the way over from Boise. So many people from Harrison, Butte, Bozeman and Billings - and all the small towns in between - showed up. It was a day I’ll never forget.”
Making the most of a small town advantage.
Growing Canty Boots from Harrison has worked well for Nikki. Montana has always been home and the only place she can imagine raising her family - and its been an ideal spot to stay focused on her vision: “I don’t have distractions so I accomplish a ton in a work day…We have fresh air, beautiful views, a GREAT school and supportive community. I know I won’t find that in a big city.”