The Secret Behind Jan Kleinman’s Booty Bagz
When Jan Kleinman was at a golf tournament about 11 years ago, she saw something she would never forget: a young woman carrying a purse that appeared to be constructed from a cowboy boot.
“I told my golf friends ‘that looks really fun and cute,’ and the next thing I knew, I started making them,” she says.
After figuring out how to create the purses, which she calls Booty Bagz, from gently worn children’s cowboy boots, Kleinman and a friend decided to transform her enjoyable new hobby into a business.
“We used to do shows, cocktail parties and art events in Fountain Hills,” she says.
Although her friend is no longer a business partner, Kleinman says she still enjoys staying busy creating the purses, which are now sold exclusively at Kiss Me Kate Clothing Boutique.
“I work at the store part-time and am there one day a week, so right now I just sell the Booty Bagz,” Kleinman says.
In order to find the supplies she needs to create her one-of-a-kind purses, Kleinman is always on the lookout for pre-owned children’s cowboy boots that are in good shape.
“I still get thrilled when I find a pair of boots that I can tear up and re-do into a purse. I look everywhere for them.”
Kleinman constructs each purse from her home office in Paradise Valley, which is filled with beads in many colors and sizes, jewels and other accessories that help transform the top portion of the boot into an object of beauty.
Unlike the cowboy boot bag she first saw at the golf tourney, Kleinman says her unique purses feature a lot more embellishment, with plenty of beads and colors.
“I’m always trying all kinds of new things. For example, lately I’ve gotten into painting them, and chalk paint is just incredible,” she says. “I also use sandpaper on them so it helps them to look more worn and different.”
If the leather is especially thick, Kleinman hires a shoe repair business to sew the parts together. Otherwise, all of the craftsmanship is done from her home.
While the fronts of the Booty Bagz are decorated and colorful, Kleinman leaves the backs of the purses unadorned to be gentle on the wearer’s clothing. She can usually create one of her Booty Bagz in about two to three hours.
“It’s so relaxing and so enjoyable, and no two bags are ever the same.”
In addition to the Booty Bagz that she creates for Kiss Me Kate, Kleinman is occasionally asked to make a custom purse. In one case, a woman whose husband passed away asked if there was anything she could do with his beloved cowboy boots.
“I took two pair of his boots and made purses for her, her daughter and nieces, and they were just delighted with them,” she says.
Kleinman also enjoys hearing peoples’ reactions when they come into Kiss Me Kate and see the Booty Bagz for the first time.
“They are sometimes shocked and ask ‘What, is this a boot?’ or they will ask “You made this?’ So I will show them how they are made and people for the most part are very positive about them.”
Looking back, Kleinman is definitely pleased with her decision to turn her artistic hobby into a successful business.
“Other than playing golf, I would rather do this. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Kiss Me Kate is located in the Camelback Village Center at 5039 N. 44th St. in Phoenix. For more information, visit KissMeKateAZ.com.