Interview with David Stothard: The Boot Repair Company

David, how did you start your career at the Boot Repair Company?

I started here in 2019. When I began, there were 4 of us and now we are 50! I came here from a career in sound engineering and really wanted a change. Although now its gone full circle for me as I create the marketing content, photography and film for The Boot Repair Company!

Is film a central pillar of your marketing?

Definitely! You cannot fake anything. It has to be authentic so film is a good medium – especially with audio too. If you are showing what you are doing, people trust that more which in turn has a positive effect on your business.

Who are your customers?

It’s quite varied right now but definitely the impact of any film we create brings in people who might have that type of shoe and they know it’s possible to be repaired. So in a way what I create is also semi educational. 

What do you want your marketing content to achieve?

Engage more younger consumers!  We want to try and repair certain types of shoes that have never been repaired before. People my age and beyond are probably already on board but to someone at university age, repairing footwear may not seem that exciting – but I am trying my best to change that! Perhaps the message for younger consumers  is to keep what you have bought – even if it is vintage – and things repaired!

Tell us more about The Boot Repair Company

The business started over a decade ago and was a merger of two families working in the footwear repair industry in Leeds. One had numerous cobbler/repair stores and the other was a wholesale company. So when they combined, they created the Boot Repair Company.

Things started with repairing boots for the Royal Household Cavalry. They would ship boots to us and we would repair and ship back. Everything we do now started with that base.

Another milestone for us was Revivo for Vivobarefoot. We take returned product from Vivo and help clean them up with a sustainable cleaning product called Microfresh. We stitch, re-sole and help them re-sell at a reduced price. 

This all happened during the pandemic and it was the Vivo customers who asked for this and in fact drove this side of the business.

What happened with Vivo led directly to our new Dr. Martens Repair Service  which is really exciting. 

Being based in Leeds, we employ local people – particularly parents who need flexible working hours. In fact some of our longest serving staff really enjoy working this way.

We have another workspace in Essex as the military business expanded and so that team still focus on many of the armed forces footwear. As you can imagine, with the multiple royal occasions recently such as the Coronation, the boot treads take a lot of wear and need changing so it has been very busy!

The royal family seem very conscious about being as sustainable as responsible and repair is a key part of this. 

How would you describe what is unique about Boot Repair Company?

On a consumer level, it’s the ease of getting things repaired and also our personal approach and expertise that customers can receive from our team. You also don’t have to find a store to get your footwear repaired.

On a commercial level, we use original componentry sourced directly from manufacturers and I am also proud of our business agility. Vivo is a great example and an opportunity we responded to quickly.

How important is sustainability to the business?

100% important. By way of example we try and repair every type of shoe and our whole mission is to stop products going into landfill. 

For example, 99% of leather footwear can be repaired and can last a lifetime. 

If it wasn’t about people wanting to be more conscious in their shopping habits – we wouldn’t be here so we are really grateful to our customers.

In terms of leather specifically, we do understand that 7 million tons of leather could be wasted if it wasn’t repaired.

Tell us more about the Dr Martens partnership?

It’s super exciting and we want to get this partnership running really well. Each repair is hand finished at The Boot Repair Co.’s UK factory using the same machines that construct all Dr Martens boots and shoes. Customers just send in their favourite pair for repair and we do the rest.

What's next for The Boot Repair Company?

We’ve been so fortunate with our team who have made our business so special. In the next 12 months we are expanding further to Europe and beyond. 

And of course, we’re also so proud to be featured in the It’s A Long Story exhibition as well!  I’ve even learned a lot about other leather stories there too!

(It’s A Long Story is designed to take visitors on a rich and inspiring digital journey celebrating the long lasting, circular, repairable, upcycling and recycling qualities that leather can offer).

Credits: The Boot Repair Company