Shari Jenkins was buying fabric to create a western Christmas for her family many years ago when she saw a woman holding a boot purse. It was an A-ha! moment to be sure. “I decided that I could make those also!” says the creative force behind Custom Boot Purses in Tucson. “I loved the idea, being rather unique. Then, I made them for friends and so it went.”
Her beautifully crafted purses are now a fixture not only at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, Arizona Inn, J Gilbert Footwear and Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch, but also weekend farmers’ markets and even the storied Portobello Road in London at “Jessie Western”—the shop buyers were rumored to have gone “gaga” over Jenkins’ cool, cowgirl bags.
The distinctive purses, which range from $95 to $250, are made from quality, vintage boots and fastened with a silver-tipped bolo strap and silver or gold concho details. “I find boots everywhere I travel, in thrift shops, online, antique malls and individuals sometimes give them to me,” says Jenkins. “Leather is a wonderful medium to work with, and very forgiving. I listen to my music and work away.”
A former swim instructor in Arizona and California, Jenkins has always enjoyed sewing and crafting. As a young girl, her mother had a shop making custom clothing, including mother-daughter outfits and communion dresses, and Jenkins loved working with the shop’s industrial power machine after school. After she was married and living in Malibu, she used to make custom fit bikinis and mini-dresses for a shop on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
“I love what I do because people are so taken with the idea and it has given me another way of having a hobby that has put me out into the community…,” she says. You can find out more about Jenkins’ purses at www.artofarizona.com.