Make It

How making 'Redneck Boot Sandals' became this former sheriff’s full-time job

How this 31-year-old turned making 'Redneck Boot Sandals' into a full-time...

They're cowboy boots. They're sandals. They're ridiculous.

And yet, in 2012, when then 25-year-old Scotty Franklin of Springfield, Missouri wore his boot sandals to a party, a fellow guest wouldn't stop pestering him to buy them. Franklin had taken a pocket knife to a pair of old cowboy boots, cutting the front into thongs and leaving the tall boot. He wore them as a bit of a goof. But when the man eventually upped his offer to $150, Franklin wondered, did he have something here?

"I think maybe alcohol had something to do with his purchase," a laughing Franklin tells CNBC Make It about taking the boots off his feet and selling them for cash. But after other friends started asking Franklin to make them boot sandals, he set up a Redneck Boot Sandals Facebook page to post samples and began contracting the work out to local cobblers.

Transforming a boot into a Redneck Boot Sandal can take up to four to six weeks.
Redneck Boot Sandals

"I mean, we all knew it was funny here locally," he says. "But I didn't know that it was going to explode like it did."

Indeed, in 2015, a tweet from Pee-wee Herman took the Redneck Boot Sandals viral. Soon, what started as a joke — Franklin had the idea when saw a man walking the beach in cowboy boots in Gulf Shores, Alabama — had become an internet sensation. Videos by social media content curators, like VT and LADbible, profiling his boot sandals quickly racked up millions of views on Facebook (the total views across the many videos now stands well over 30 million).

The interest sparked thousands of sales, with customers (mainly from Texas but as far as Australia) sending Franklin their cowboy boots to have them customized into boot sandals for $150.

Scotty Franklin, 31, quit his job as deputy sheriff with plans to go back to school before Redneck Boot Sandals took off to become his full-time job.
Redneck Boot Sandals

"We got some negativity, you know, people ... calling it like an abomination to boots," he says. "[But] the way we look at it is, it's something fun and silly and something for people to laugh at and enjoy."

With plans to pitch investors to fund overseas production, Franklin is hoping to get Redneck Boot Sandals on big box retail store shelves by next year.

"I don't know if I put myself up there with Tommy Hilfiger, you know, by any means or anything like that, but it's pretty neat."

Do his Redneck Boot Sandals have what it takes to make the shelf? Watch the video above to judge for yourself.

— Video by Zack Guzman

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