Episode 3 – Becky Washington from DeNiro Boots talks us through the brand

deniro-boots

Country Frog:
So,  Becky Washington from DeNiro Boots UK, welcome to Frog Pod. Recently, you came along to Country Frog and we asked you could we stock DeNiro’s. That was back in November, we’re now in March and all as I’ve got to say is what a fabulous brand it’s been for us. Can’t underestimate the value to Country Frog of having that brand with us.
So Becky, tell us a bit about DeNiro in the UK.

Becky:
SoDeNiro was established in 1981 by Filippo and he used to work for fashion designers but had a passion for horses. So did his friends, and then he went on to making riding boots and that’s where De Niro came from.
They offer a variety of sizes and styles to suit everybody’s needs, all handmade in Italy.

Country Frog:
I like the fact you can actually customize them so if comes somebody comes in and they like pink sparkly with bright pink laces or
sewing thread, we can actually customize to what the customer wants. It’s no trouble whatsoever.

Becky:
Oh, it’s ideal. People go crazy about a lot of really Blinky boots plain, traditional boots, but they can do whatever they choose.

Country Frog:

I think the one with the printed flowers on was just a bit too much me, a step too far.

Becky:

Floral, definitely.

Country Frog:

But for me, I bought a pair of DeNiro boots, or had them bought for my birthday.  I bought them elsewhere because we didn’t even have Country Frog then.  And they never fitted.  So to me, the critical thing has been you to train my girls to do fittings. And I’ve got say ‘touch wood’, so far really, really good.  Lots of happy customers going on there. But it is down to the fitting. It’s nothing to do with the quality of the brand, it’s down to the quality of the customer service that you get.

Becky:
It definitely is service and experience. I think your girls do it really well. When people are in the shop, they sit down with them properly and go through all the different options and make sure they’re measured correctly.

Country Frog:
Don’t say that too much to them, they might want a pay rise! ha ha

Country Frog:
Well, you aren’t new to the equestrian industry yourself are you? So why don’t you tell us a bit about your journey, as a career and when did you get into horses?

Becky:
So had my first pony when I was seven, and then progressed as a groom when I was 13/14. And then to a full time groom after school. Following that, I went working in an equestrian shop and from there into sales and being out on the road.  So for the last 12 years, I’ve been doing a sales role covering the whole of the UK with various different equestrian brands.

Country Frog:

But where does the parrot come in?

Becky:

The parrot is just a crazy little sidekick, like the dog

Country Frog:
I’ve got to tell our listeners that Becky does bring her little dog Purdy, who terrorizes my dog Alfred, by swinging on his ears. He’s not overly impressed.

So you the company behind DeNiro boots in the UK, what was it, about two or three years ago that they took it on?

Becky:

Yes, they took over distribution in 2016. And then I started with the company in 2017. So this month will actually be my two year anniversary, lucky for them, I deserve a present, haha.

Country Frog:
A new pair of boots?

Becky:

Yeah haha

Country Frog:

I’m sure the company that I’m now dealing with, the amount of volume that they’re putting into the UK must have grown hasn’t it?

Becky:
Yeah, so ‘year on year’, the Clarke & Pullman brand’s been growing, and, it’s true, like you were saying before, training staff and ensuring that the service that the shops offer is correct has taken time. It’s growing as a brand and everybody’s recognizing it, which is fantastic.

Country Frog:
I think you’ve actually got virtually a boot for every discipline. We were talking about boots for the Polo market …

Becky:
Yes, we’ve boots for the Polo market.

Country Frog:
and that beautiful showing boot that we’ve put the garter strap on …

Becky:
Yes, that’s gorgeous with the straight cut top.  We also do trainers, short boots, and again, which you can customize as well as belts to match and spur straps too.

Country Frog:

Brilliant. So we just need a little dog leads now to match!

Going back to the DeNiro boots, what’s the wackiest boot you’ve ever been asked for?

Becky:

There’s been a few! Some I think ‘those materials do not go together at all’ but people can have what they want. Then you’ve got the really Blingy ones, where people will spend like a couple of thousand pounds to make them look as Blingy as possible! We’ve had a nice bright pink boot a bit ‘Katie Price’ ish and with pink pink diamonds across the toe and the sides and things like that. And and then prior to us taking over I know DeNiro have also done a couple of boots in white for weddings when brides have wanted to ride in on horseback!

Country Frog:
Oh, wow. De Niro wedding boots. Lovely idea.

I don’t do personally many boot fittings I’ve stayed away from that and that’s because I’ve got a problem with people’s feet!

Having once done a fitting for some short boots of another brand, a woman took her boots off. Seriously, I don’t think she’d taken the socks off for two years because they absolutely walked on their own. And all the girls disappeared on me at this trade show.  I couldn’t move! I just had to keep focused but the stench was terrible!. And if she hadn’t bought the boots, then I would have thrown them away. It was awful. So hence I’m quite happy to help people choose the look but I’m not going anywhere near any feet in the near future! I’ll stick to the helmets that’s what I enjoy the most.

Becky:
Luckily for me I’ve got a real bad sense of smell so …

Country Frog:
So I take it you’ve got a pair of boots to ride in yourself ? …

Becky:
I have. I’ve got several, but unfortunately I don’t ride as much as I’d like to nowadays because I’m normally traveling all over the country. When I do, I’ve got my long riding boots which are blue and then they’ve got like a snakeskin style top and then have plenty of the short boots in my wardrobe for fashion too.  I tend them to wear them for daily use wherever I am, because they’re so comfy.

Country Frog:
And I suppose we need to tell our listeners that DeNiro are known for being like a special treat, but they are actually not as expensive as you may think. We’ve got the range and there are everyday pairs, suitable for all budgets.

Becky:
Yes, we do a plain black basic boot which is also available in blue and brown they started at £225. It’s definitely one thing I noticed when I started the brand, that it had this perception that they were going to be looking at spending a minimum of 600 pound and but now we have this the starting range. They’re ideal and you can customize them to a degree, and so there’s three different colour options and you can have smooth or grainy leather and then you can add different types of Valentino’s.

Country Frog:
I suppose how long they last depends how you look after them …

Becky:
Definitely, how long is a piece of string really and so it depends on how many horses you ride in a day and how how well you look after your boots. Definitely make sure that you clean them regularly, so brush off any dirt and grease and then use nourishing cream. It definitely makes a big difference and letting boots dry naturally as well. People have got this thing where they always try to put leather boots by a radiator or fire. That will  actually dry the leather too quickly and that’s when you can end up with cracks. You’re best to just leave them at room temperature and don’t put them too close to a heat source. The same with all other products, not just boots.

Country Frog:
So, branching out a little bit away from just boots, will we see a handbag range for the more fashion country look,  to me it would make sense?

Becky:
Yes, definitely towards the fashion look. We’ve just launched a range of short country boots and they’re a bit more like a chelsea boot, dealer boot and are available in leather and suede. The ladies ones have got a small heel on them and and then hopefully that range will grow from there as well and handbags.

Country Frog:
Sounds really good. What’s the ratio of men to women buyers with the boots?

Becky:
I think because ladies are more addicted to shoes and boots so we definitely sell a lot more of the ladies boots and shoes. We do have a good range of men’s too, but they tend to stick to the more basic styles as well, so your plain, traditional styles. They’re not as adventurous when it comes to designing boots as we are.

Country Frog:
… and we can get matching chaps to these short riding boots can we?

Becky:
Yes, there’s matching half chaps and various different designs and again you can you customize those with the different leathers. You can have different top shapes on them too and they can be ‘made to measure’ also.

Country Frog:
That’s great, because for people who are very tall, very short, skinny or very large calves, they usually have a problem getting them to fit. This will help people get the right product.

Becky:
Yes, so we do eight different calf sizes and five different heights and standard in both the chaps and long boots. But then you’ve also got the ‘made to measure’ option as well. This means it doesn’t matter if your legs are slightly different or if you’ve got an injury, we can produce a boot or chaps that will work.

Country Frog:

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the lead time of these boots. I have dealt with previously, several manufacturers of riding boots. When you get a promise of four weeks, let’s double it and put two weeks on, whereas with De Niro I’ve been quoting like six weeks and they’ve been coming in four. I know that’s probably down to volume going through but we’re talking about three or four months now and they’ve not let me down yet! (‘touch wood’) but I’m really quite impressed. Having met Filippo, they’re quite engaging with their resellers which, for me, my customer service is only as good as my supplier. So if they don’t get in touch with me, I can’t get in touch with my customer. That for me is absolutely critical that we keep people informed and if we’re going to let somebody down, it’s always better to let them know rather than them tell me I’ve let them down.

Becky:
Definitely. They are really good and we normally quote around six weeks and some of the stock, we hold in the UK as well, so then you can get that next day delivery. The main to order is always six weeks and they’re  normally always on time with that. They also offer a really good follow up service so if you need any repairs doing on your boots, or alterations and or even just to recondition, you can send them back to the factory and and there’s that after service as well.

Country Frog:

How long does that typically take?

Becky:

It depends, normally between three to four weeks depending on what what you’re having done to the boots. If it’s something simple like a recondition, it would probably be about three weeks, due to the lead time of getting the product back, more than the time to do the actual job itself. It would just depend on on what it was.

Country Frog:
That’s brilliant. Well, thank you ever so much for doing this for us. I know you were a little bit reticent on going on on the microphone, but all I can say is what a great experience for Country Frog it is to be a stockist of De Niro’s and I’m looking forward to the handbags!

Becky:
Yeah, definitely. I’m enjoying working with you guys and exciting that we’ve got all these shows to come …

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