FORT WORTH, Texas — Texas can be tough to define.
It’s as cowboy as it is cosmopolitan.
But those cultures don’t have to clash.
They peacefully coexist in every pair of Lizzy Bentley’s boots.
“I’ve always been this weird mix of being both country and city at the same time,” she said.
A native of Amarillo, Lizzy grew up wearing cowboy boots everywhere.
She didn’t stop when she moved to Dallas to attend SMU.
“And all the girls from California and Chicago, all over the nation and really the world, would stop me and ask me, ‘Where did you get those boots?’” she said.
“And when I got asked that about 20 times, I decided they could buy them from me.”
She began buying and selling cowboy boots while she earned a degree in finance.
After graduation, she landed a job as an analyst for oil and gas firm Halliburton in Houston.
“I think when I really got the bug to do my own thing was about two weeks into my first real job,” she said.
It wasn’t buyer’s remorse – she loved her job.
She just wanted to build something that was all hers.
But the high-heeled corporate world did stifle her style, too.
She started drawing up a few designs for cowboy boots, had them manufactured, and launched a boot company for women as a small side hustle.
“Nobody was really serving the women in that space and that’s when I started thinking that there’s something here,” she said.
“It really was divine time, because one week later I ended up getting laid off from my oil and gas job in a downturn. I had saved some money, had perfect samples ready to go, and I didn’t have a job.”
So turning cowboy boots into her full-time job, “was kind of an easy decision.”
Lizzy was 25 when she launched her company.
She’s now 31. And City Boots has developed a loyal following.
Her luxury boots, which sell for about $1,000 a pair, are for women only.
“I’m selling boots to a customer that isn’t your typical cowboy boot customer,” she said.
Lizzy says market research revealed women like the idea of cowboy boots but feel like they’re bulky or uncomfortable.
“They don’t feel pretty in them,” she said. “So, what we’ve done is totally different.”
With a higher heel and a taller boot, “everything’s way more feminine,” she explained.
Lizzy found a family-owned factory in central Mexico to handcraft her designs, which sometimes include pops of bright colors and icons like hearts or lightning bolts.
Sometimes a unique design will pop into her head and she’ll jot it down wherever she can.
“It could be on a napkin or on a bill. I’ve got little sketches everywhere of different ways to lay out different icons on a boot,” she said.
“Establishing yourself as a trusted brand takes time. There was a lot of hitting the pavement, doing home shows and packing and unpacking boots, literally out of the trunk of my little sedan to get the name out there,” she said.
City Boots now operates out of a studio in Fort Worth that is open one day a week by appointment only.
The rest of her business is through online orders or trunk shows, which she's held in places like Aspen and Beverly Hills.
“I’m sending my love for cowboy boots out to people who’ve never even seen a horse, but they love them!” she said with a smile.
Lizzy hesitates to give too much advice to women considering a career change, but she does believe taking a calculated risk is the best way to see if something's right.
“There’s a million reasons not to do something. You kind of just have to take a leap of faith,” she said. “If it’s something you’re passionate enough about then even if you fail, you’re going to learn.”