Readers of my blog and those who know me, will know that three of my passions are boots, hosiery and talking …. so you can imagine my excitement at meeting the gorgeous Shelby Mason and her fab creation, “Bootights”….these are tights (and socks) specifically made for wearing with boots. I just had to have a chat….welcome Shelby:
Hi! My name is Shelby Mason and I am the founder and CEO of Leg Up, LLC and creator of the legwear lifestyle brand called Bootights®. I created Bootights® because I was tired of being uncomfortable in my boots when wearing traditional thin hosiery. My feet would slip and slide in the boots which caused blisters and snags and runs in my tights. My boots also didn’t fit quite right so I had to layer a separate sock over my tights so I had extra cushion and warmth. This make-do solution wasn’t ideal either because I could never find the right sock – my running socks would bunch down under my heel so I was forced to “borrow” ugly white “man” socks from my Dad or boyfriend. It was always a bit of a pain and inconvenience.
What inspired you to invent the idea of bootights?
As a former road warrior in my previous career in syndication TV sales, I spent a lot of time in and out of airports and consequently airport security lines. One winter day I was heading Fargo (I lead a very glamorous life!), chatting with a fellow traveller standing behind me. I was forced to take off my boots and reveal my ugly, white tube socks that I had layered over my tights and needless to say, I was beyond embarrassed. On my flight I wondered why there wasn’t a hosiery product that combined the look of a tight and the comfort of a sock – all-in-one. The idea for Bootights® was taking off. Eventually, I created what I thought was a need in the marketplace after doing research to support my time and effort, I realized that I wasn’t the only gal who was forced to layer a separate sock over my tights when I wear boots. In fact, over 50% of the 500 women polled nationally said that they also layer to sock for comfort and they would buy a product that combined the two.
Coming from a background in the American TV industry, and having worked your way up to Vice President of Television Sales – West Coast Division for Disney … then to leave your comfortable career to embark upon this venture of entrepreneurship in an industry you knew little about, must have been a trying time for you. I applaud you for such a brilliant idea and your determination to get your idea realised. As a young girl though living in Washington State, what were your career dreams at the time? Did you have a love of fashion at a young age?
Thank you. Yes, it was very difficult and extremely scary. I was armed with a unique solution-based product and a lot of passion and luckily, the press followed. Getting Bootights® featured on the Oprah show as a Must Have Fashion Item in 2011 made it a little easier to walk away from the Mouse House. I knew I was on to something. Plus, I didn’t know what I didn’t know so in way, it was eaiser because of that as well.
Coming from Bremerton, WA, a blue-collar, navy town, I had always dreamed of moving away from the rainy, sleepy town and “make it big” in NYC. I always wanted to be in advertising and eventually received an internship at a big Ad Agency in Seattle. After working in that environment, I realized that it wasn’t my true calling and ended up working at the local Fox Affiliate, KCPQ-TV in programming and I loved it. I quickly moved up the ladder and found myself in NYC and working for Universal Television then Warner Bros hired me and moved me to Chicago and then I worked for Disney after that and was promoted and eventually landed myself in LA to work at the Disney studios in Burbank.
Looking back, I did always love fashion. At a young age I dreamed of being a fashion designer and would draw models with my clothing creations. Being a child of the 80’s, I was always very coordinated and remember enjoying putting together outfits but I wasn’t really that creative or artsy. Just loved clothes.
Are your bootights colours & designs dictated by your personal tastes, popular customer requests, hosiery trends, or bits of all three?
All three. I always look at color trends and boot and legwear trends. I always take into account my customer’s feedback as well. I’m a bit more classic in my styling so many of the designs reflect that. I want the styles to be really wearable because they are so durable, the patterns should be relevant season after season. Of course, I will throw in some fun patterns to mix it up and Fusion Flame Stitch is an example of that. The Lacy Darby is an example of a design that is not personally my esthetic but it is my best seller.
My favourite bootights designs currently are the Lincoln Park Open Knit and the Fusion Zig-Zag. What’s your favourite design out of your collection?
I love my new Ellevator™ over-the-knee boot socks. They mix a cable knit and classic rib pattern and can be worn in different ways depending on your look that day. They can be worn as a thigh-hi, knee-hi or over-the-knee or even folded over your boot as a boot cuff. Of course, the bottom has our signature comfort sock attached so your feet always stay comfy in those boots.
What are the differences between bootights and “darby’s”, that you’ve also designed?
Darbys® is my name for our knee-hi boot socks. I didn’t want to call them boot socks because you think of something kinda chunky and ugly. I didn’t want to call them a trouser sock because they are traditionally thin. Darbys® are a compression, nylon, spandex knee-hi and a cushioned, moisture-wicking performance sock attached. They come in fun and classic patterns and our best seller has a pretty lace embellishment on the top. Bootights® is what started it all – our tights/pantyhose with the socks attached.
What design(s) from the latest collection have been the most popular amongst your customers so far?
In our Bootights® line the Madison, sheer rib has been popular because of it’s so wearable and figure flattering – the vertical rib design create long, leaner looking leg. The Lillith Filligree design is also getting a great response. Our Chelan Shaper is a favorite because who doesn’t want to feel and look sleeker.
The Ellevator™ versatile over-the-knee has been a big hit and our collegiate game day colors of our Darby Lacie has taken off.
If it was possible, who would you like to see being the “legs” of Bootights?
Great question – I wouldn’t turn down Heidi Klum if she wanted to wear the Bootights® that’s for sure. I’d also love to see them on Princess Kate, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston. Love to see the Darbys on Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift because they have a western/country appeal. But I really see my customer as every busy, on-the-go gal who appreciates style and will pay a little more for comfort, quality and convenience.
As we approach the Autumn/Winter season – what colour trends/styles of bootights do you think will be popular?
Our stone color has been really hot – it is an updated take on Taupe and we offer it in our Lillith style Bootights®, Ellevator™ and Darbys®. It’s very wearable and can go with any outfit and boots. Plum and Deep Burgundy are also very pretty on legs this fall.
Your bootights are available via your website and at retailers across the USA. Have you any plans to expand overseas in the future to feature in retailers globally? Do you ship outside of the USA at all?
Bootights are currently available in Canada and Australia. I’m planning to expand in Germany and Japan next season.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I love wearing dresses with my boots and skinny jeans or leggings. My clothing is usually neutrals (beige, black, brown, grey) and I pop my outfit with accessories. Of course, Bootights® and I love wearing fun and colorful scarves and jewelry. This allows me to change my accessories for each season depending on trends without spending a fortune. I do love my boots though – Big fan of Frye and Ariat.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
I love Akira in Chicago, Urban Outfitters and shopbop.com.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Momma needs a new pair of boots so I have my eye on some new Frye embellished beauties.
Boots or Shoes? (I have a sneaky feeling I already know that answer!)
Yep! How did you guess?
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can follow you and your career.
It’s been absolutely fabulous talking to you Shelby and I really hope that you’ll bring Bootights to the UK soon too…
All photos have been published with kind permission from Shelby Mason.