Q&A with Rianna Brown

February 09, 2017

Q&A with Rianna Brown

Truman Boot Company is a very small operation having only seven to eight people in the shop on a regular day. Meet one of our seamstresses, Rianna Brown. 

What sewing experience did you have before joining Truman? Was it
hard transitioning to sewing leather?

My first industrial sewing job was with BDDW. It's another company built
from scratch like Truman Boot, and I love that. Instead of custom leather
boots I upholstered high end furniture.

I had worked with some leather, but yes, I would say I still had to
experience a learning curve. To be honest, most of the leather working
machines at Truman were new to me, especially the skiver, and the clicker
press. Those two machines alone make the process so much more gratifying as
a seamstress. It is truly industrial.

What’s your favorite material to work with besides leather?

I'm definitely fond of velvet, I'm not going to lie. But... my favorite
material to WORK with is buckram. This is my secret love. It makes
designing anything like a dream. A total dream.

You were already located in Colorado before the company relocated to
Boulder — do you have a favorite thing to do in the area?

Yeah it's funny because I did live in PA for a bit, though nowhere near the
old Truman Boot Co. shop. I grew up in Colorado, and Boulder is by far the
best. My favorite place to visit is Eldorado Springs. I've walked up to the
Doudy-Debacker-Dunn house so many times since my childhood, it is probably
the most nostalgic place on earth for me. I think it is an important
landmark for our state, (I mean there are so many) but because of its
location it is one of the most accessible. It is important for Colorado's
new "transplanted" population to see that there is a history here, and it
wasn't just a toothless pioneer gold miner with his gold pan and bindle.

Truman Boot is obviously very fashion oriented. Do you have a
favorite fashion designer outside of Truman Boot?

I do, I have many favorite fashion designers, it's hard to put one down. I
think it's safe to say that Jean Paul Gaultier was pivotal for my
generation to say the least. There is something so strange behind his work
that really resonates with me, and I think I've seen it echoing in
unexpected ways. My newest favorite is Claire Barrow. If I were to curate a
contemporary fashion exhibit, and I could ask any two designers to
collaborate, I would ask them.

What’s your favorite leather to come through the shop?

I'm still learning the realm of fine leathers. So as an admirer I will
humbly say my favorite so far has been the Green Janus Butt as a rough-out.
There is just something so luxurious about emerald green for me. It's like
sophisticated, smart, and kind of playful. There wasn't a thing to dislike
about working with it either.

Despite what many of us think, there is a whole world out there
beyond shoes. What hobbies do you have beyond the realm of shoes, clothing,
and sewing?

Haha there's a world beyond clothes and shoes? I think the only real world
beyond that is like nature, of course. But to answer your question- my
ultimate love is for ballet. It always was, and will always be. My favorite
contemporary choreographers are William Forsythe, and Michael Clark. My
first influence as a young girl was Nijinsky; and to me there is no one
more inspirational than he was.

Truman Boot currently has five different sewing machines — three
vintage Pfaffs and two new Durkopp Adlers. Which is your favorite machine
to sew on?

We count on all of them equally, and I think each have their own charms. I
have grown pretty accustomed to one of the vintage Pfaffs. It is definitely
a work horse, and has rarely ever let me down. Besides the occasional
skipped stitch I'd say it's a real gem.

Is there one process of sewing a boot that you particularly like or

I recently learned the new heel design, which is somewhat sans heel, and I
have to say I was surprised by how much I liked the process. I think with
the right build, and leather that design would look really killer.

What do you want to be doing in ten years? Still working in the
fashion industry?

I have three major life goals, but I'll only tell you one. I would like to
start a sewing school inspired by the Black Mountain College, and the Emily
Griffith Opportunity School, which is where I studied sewing. It may be a
high hope, but it would mean so much to me. The legacy of both schools are
priceless. It's a shame that those ideals didn't carry through to this
generation. I mean you can read their history, and it can motivate you, but
no one can go to a school like that anymore. I would like to change that.

Shoe Forum Tradition dictates that we must ask you one final,
important question: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

There is an ice cream shoppe in Denver called Bonnie Brae. They serve a
classic flavor, but I've never seen it done quite like theirs. They make a
vanilla ice cream with the cutest peppermint chips in red and blue. It
reminds me of confetti birthday cake. Eating ice cream should make you feel
like a kid, and this ice cream does that for me.