How we started with one shift boot
Posted by: Mike on Mar. 6th, 2018
Ever wondered who and why makes the shift boots so many of you enjoy? This is actually how it all started :-)
Back in 1999 I bought my dream car - a pearl white 1990 Nissan 300ZX. It was an awesome piece of machinery for a college student, and it even ran well (for the most part) but the interior was pretty drab, which was especially visible on the vinyl factory shift boot with the ebrake boot not being much better. My girlfriend at the time kept harping about it until I eventually just pulled the boot out, handed it to her saying: "Don't like it? Get me a better shift boot!"
And guess what! She did get me a new shift boot. Found some local upholstery guy and had him make me a set of shift boot and brake boot! They looked great too! I posted pics of the new shift boot on TwinTurbo.net (which still is an active 300ZX forum almost 20 years later!) and the next day I had 49 replies (which is significant: 49 is 7 squared. Luck to the second power!) from people asking me where I got the shift boot from and can I get them one also, and how much. Back in early days, no credit cards online, PayPal was still incumbent, we had to deal with checks and Money Orders but hey, we got about 50 guys a new shift boot for their beloved Z in two weeks!
And then there were guys asking: "How about the ebrake boot?", "Hey, my other car also needs a new shift boot!", "My armrest vinyl is peeling off so how about some nice leather for ir too?"
Weeks went by and there were so many people interested in a new shift boot, ebrake or armrest that we realized it's a pretty promising niche and started looking at it as a business. My dad came into play saying: "Hey, I know a lady who makes leather bags - maybe she could make shift boots for you as well."
So that's how it all started - a few months after I had my shift boot replaced by my girlfriend, a skilled and experienced lady started sewing shift boots for me first half, ultimately full-time. And guess what? 20 years later, we're still working together! You can see her pictures, and her workshop, right here. Shift boot application list was growing organically as it was never meant to become a company - more of a side income for a petrolhead to pay for maintenance of his Fairlady Z! :-)
Month after month, we had more and more car guys interested in replacing / upgrading their shift boot leathers. They all were sending me old shift boots, armrest covers and other interior trim pieces so that we could design new templates and provide them with brand new, custom made shift boots handcrafted from top quality Italian leather. 20 years later, we are well over 2000 individual products!.
One torn shift boot was enough to start a path that converted a wannabe software developer into a small business owner. Now, almost 20 years later there are way over 50 thousand rides sporting our shift boot, ebrake boot or armrest cover and are enjoying a 4.8 out of 5 star rating from our happy customers! :-)