Pembrokeshire people meet Susie Lincoln
Walk down the high street in Narberth (or any Pembrokeshire town for that matter!) and you’re bound to be crossing paths with someone wearing Susie’s Sheepskin Boots.
Beautifully and uniquely designed, everyone who owns a pair is a convert! We headed down to the workshop to envelop ourselves in sheepskin and ward off the cold!
VP: Tell us how it began, how did the first pair of boots come into existence?
SL: I was always sewing from a very young age, and then when I moved down here I met a woman from New Guinea who was making Ugg boots (the true definition of Ugg boot means sheepskin boot) on a very simple level. They were very different then - very rough, one colour, the backs were floppy but they did cure chilblains, which I suffered with then. She wanted to leave, so she sold me her business and because I was already making finely embroidered and finely stitched waistcoats, it sort of fitted in quite well, and its just gone from strength to strength.
VP: What do you think has made your business thrive in Pembrokeshire?
SL: Well I started small, well we’re still quite small, but I’ve always sold as many as I can possibly make. And they’re just a brilliant product- they suit everyone from 6-month-old babies to our oldest customer who was 102! One element to our business is that we do make boots for people with chilblains, and I’ve worked specialists at the children’s ward at Withybush to help children who have poor circulation and cerebral palsy, who didn’t have anything to go on their feet.
I just know it’s a really great, bespoke service, but it is hard work! And we do sell online, most of the people who come in to the shop have looked at our website. But our great strength is in our organic growth, that it’s such a personal service and that it’s family run.
VP: Do you take inspiration from your surroundings? Especially as Pembrokeshire’s heritage is so rooted in sheep farming.
SL: They do sometimes look similar to the wool moccasins the shearers traditionally wear, and our embroidered braids have a definite Celtic and Welsh influence, but now we get sent braid from all over the world. We have some that have just been sent from Calcutta, from America, from Norway and some are Aztec-y! For me it’s only ever been about the colour, and people like to come and choose something that’s unique to them, no one else in the world has the same pair of boots as you.
VP: Your design of sheepskin boot is iconic now, what’s the evolution of the boot? Has it stayed very similar or changed?
SL: Well you’ve probably seen the Ugg Australia boots or something similar, but they collapse and the soles wear thin and people’s feet slide around. Whereas these heels are reinforced, ergonomically they follow the natural contours of the leg, and if people comes along and they have wide feet or there’s something about them that doesnt fit as well as we’d like, we’ll draw around their foot to get a snug fit. Because sheepskin is only as strong as it is. And then the inner sole is made from different wool that the upper, its denser and has more bounce.
We don’t want to lose the concept of following the natural contours of the leg, so there are variations on the design, we’ve just launched one which is slightly taller at the back than the front and slopes downward. But they’re all variations on the same theme. But you can wear them in two different heights and roll the tops down for another look too.
VP: And now your children are carrying on the tradition…
SL: Yes, they dip in and out of the business but they have learnt all the skills that so many children don’t learn now. They can sew and stitch and work with their hands. But what we do is very specialised! There are only two of us who use the sewing machine, which is nicknamed ‘The loved one’!
What we’re offering is so special, and creatively it’s just so satisfying.
Own a pair of Susie's fabulous boots and love them? Let us know via Facebook and Twitter, or take a picture of yours as you explore Pembrokeshire, with the hashtag #MyPembsPlace. If not get along to Susie Sheepskin Boots in Narberth.