Made By Hand: Free Range Mama

A few months ago we began seeing the cute and colorful hand painted designs of Lindsay Stewart’s Free Range Mama shop on Instagram. 

We adored the customized designs Lindsay was adding to Minnetonka booties and couldn’t wait to learn more about her Minnetonka connection and inspiration behind her Free Range Mama Etsy shop.

What’s your Minnetonka story?
I have  worn Minnetonka since Day One. My mom was familiar with the brand from growing up in Starbuck, Minnesota and throughout my childhood my mom, dad and I all wore them.

When my husband Josh and I had our first son, Maxwell, my parents gave us my first pair for him to wear. As he grew out of them, we packed them away – only to bring them back out when our second son, Magnus, was born. The fact that they’ve lasted 33+ plus years is definitely a testament to the brand.

Tell us how Free Range Mama came to be.
After Magnus grew out of my infant Minnetonka booties I sealed them into a Ziploc and placed them in the bottom drawer of the boys’ dresser. A year or so later, I was reorganizing and emptied the drawer and was so excited to see them again. They were squashed flat but as I pulled them carefully from the bag, the texture of the worn suede felt so reassuring to me.

The soles of the moccasins were worn, but showed no age. I wondered if anybody found their Minnetonkas to be such a keepsake the way I did. Folks used to wear white leather booties and would later bronze them – that’s pretty special, I thought. But I wondered if anybody would want a birthday or a name painted on these moccasins. To keep and hand down. And add names later, maybe. Sort of like a lineage of moccasin-lovers.

I did love to paint but hadn’t in years. So I took a leap and ordered three pair of Minnetonka booties and some sets of new paints. For three Saturdays, I painted. With three, simple pair of custom, hand-painted moccasins, I opened my Etsy shop. First under the name “Magnus ‘n Maxwell” – unsure what the heck one actually does with an Etsy shop.

Several months later, I sold my first pair. I was so excited I texted a friend. She had no idea I had painted some moccasins! I sent her the link to my Etsy shop and she wrote back: “I’ll take three.” And then another friend caught wind: “I’ll take three.” And from there it sort of snowballed.

What inspires your designs?
Well, the music is always on. Also, album art and poster art, 1960’s photography books, flora/fauna guides, a plane ticket.

What’s your process?  How long does it take for you to create a new custom pair?
Free Range Mama is a free-hand, hand-painted, entirely custom brand. No stencils. No tracing. No sketching beforehand.  Once I’ve ironed out what the client has in their heart and it’s production time, I can have the moccasins painted and ready to roll within a few hours.

What is your most memorable (or favorite) pair that you’ve ever painted?
I have so many. Two faves are the Spaceship and Planets pair with the navy blue capped off toes and also the Psychedelic Tie Dye Swirl “Cosmic Friend” pair. Anything with owls is requested all the time, too. Luckily, even repeating styles keeps things interesting around here since they are all one-of-a-kind. Every, single pair is unique.

Sometimes clients want something they don’t see listed and then we can collaborate on a specific design.  All Free Range Mama moccasins can be personalized with names, birthdays, quotes – even music notes. A recent pair included the actual music notes for “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Harry Nilsson. My favorite words to paint are “Be True.” “Be Brave.” Such a sendoff for the moccasins; from my silly little paint brushes, to the soles of the feet so precious in your life.

For more of Lindsay’s designs visit her Free Range Mama Etsy shop.


Minnetonka at Heartbreaker Banquet

Last week the Minnetonka team left the frozen tundra of Minneapolis and headed south to the private “Luck, Texas” ranch of Willie Nelson to attend the Heartbreaker Banquet.

In its third year, Heartbreaker Banquet is a one-day music festival held during SXSW on the outskirts of Austin.  Originally used as the backdrop to Willie’s 1986 movie “Red Headed Stranger” the private ranch is home to the bank, dance hall, chapel, jailhouse, water tower and saloon all featured in the old Western film – setting the stage for this unique event.

Elisa wearing her Minnetonka Cross Body Fringe bag

Minnetonka was stationed in front of the old bank giving festival-goers the opportunity to pose in our photo booth and enter to win a variety of Minnetonka mocs, boots and hats.

This daylong festival featured a stellar line up of Americana rock and indie-folk music on two different stages – one intimately set inside the chapel – with a diverse mix of performances by Elle King, Felice Brothers, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Nikki Lane, Shovels & Rope, Lucius, Noah Gundersen and many, many more.

The surprise of the evening was an appearance by Willie himself thrilling the crowd with a few classic hits including “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “Whiskey River,” and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.”

Couldn’t make it to Heartbreaker Banquet this year?  Check out the full lineup of bands on Spotify and enter to win a Minnetonka hat signed by many of this year’s Heartbreaker Banquet performers.

And be sure to check out more of the Minnetonka’s SXSW adventures on Instagram.

Caelan spotted in her Minnetonka Woodstock boots

Nikki Lane performing on stage

Laura from Roots & Feathers festival-ready in her Bandera boots

Heartbreaker Banquet Artist Lounge

A Chapel performance by Noah Gundersen

Elle King autographing our Minnetonka hat

A Minnetonka hat to win - signed by Heartbreaker Banquet artists

Heartbreaker Banquet Chapel

A surprise performance by Willie himself!

Store Spotlight: Farm-Way Inc.

Minnetonka Store Spotlight: Farm-Way, Inc 286 Waits River Rd Bradford, VT 05033

Farm-Way, Inc of Bradford Vermont is a family owned and operated store that has been in business for over 30 years by partners Skip & Carol Metayer and Paul & Bobbie Gallerani, along with Paul & Shelby Metayer and 35 dedicated employees.  Learn more about Farm-Way, Inc of Bradford today in our Minnetonka Store Spotlight!

What’s your Minnetonka story?
We started as a feed store in 1982, and grew into one of the largest footwear stores in Vermont with over 20,000 pairs on hand! We offer a wide selection of clothing and sporting goods, including kayaks, fencing and farming products.  Along with a gift house that features cookware, jewelry, pocketbooks, furniture and more!

For over 20 years Minnetonka has been part of our footwear collection.  Our Minnetonka selection is located at the entrance of our footwear department with over four dozen styles available year round.

What is your favorite Minnetonka slipper style?
Our favorite Minnetonka style is the Cally slipper, due to the variety of available colors which always makes it a popular selection in our store.

What is the most popular Minnetonka style in your store?
This year the Men’s Pile Lined Hardsole slipper was our most popular style!  With the Chrissy Bootie in a close second.

What are a few must see destinations near your store?
Bradford has Wright’s Mountain which is perfect for hiking and also offers spectacular views.

At the Bradford Falls you will most likely will see a photographer at any given time capturing the beauty of the river cascading towards the mill. Our town also borders the Connecticut River which has miles of boating and fishing opportunities.

DIY Project: Beaded Fringe Mocs

A new DIY Project try this month!  Today Shio from Sweetnessaboos shows us an adorable and easy way to accessorize your Double Fringe Side Zip Boots for spring.

Check out the tutorial below on how to add beads to your favorite pair of fringe boots (or mocs!) and be sure to visit Sweetnessaboos for more fun DIY ideas.

Minnetonka Double Fringe Side Zip Boot
Turquoise seed beads
Sewing needle
Black thread

Step 1: Measure around top fringe, and double that measurement, plus some extra. Cut thread measured length. Fold thread in half so that you are doubling it up to make sure the thread is strong enough and won’t easily break. Thread your needle, then insert thread into hole on bottom of fringe, double knot it and make sure it is secure. (make sure you start at the fringe closest to the zipper then when you make your way around it meets up with the other end that sits by the zipper as well. that way you don’t thread over the zipper)

Step 2: After you tie off thread and secure it in the first hole, add your first bead, then come from back of fringe through the hole, then add another bead, and continue this until you meet back up with the beginning. Once you get to the end, double knot it and make sure its secure. (tip: try not to make it too tight while beading around or the beads won’t lay right and may appear hidden and the fringe may end up laying on top of one another)

Step 3: Grab more thread (make sure to double it up for more strength), add bead to thread, place bead under silver disc, then tuck thread under each side of disc and double knot at top. Cut off excess. I’m so glad I ended up adding this last minute detail, because it really pulled the whole look together!!