Meet the Father-Daughter Duo Behind Alberta Boot Co. Outfitters’ Famous Footwear

Antonio Juarez and Ana Karen Ludwig’s family has a legacy of leatherworking that goes back generations.

Photo by Chris Landry.

Founded in 1978, Alberta Boot Co. Outfitters (formerly Alberta Boot Company) is Calgary’s premier cowboy boot manufacturer, handcrafting hundreds of pairs every month and selling them from a storefront location in Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood, as well as at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel and a new location in Southcentre Mall, set to open this summer. Calgary Police Service officers wear Alberta Boot Co. boots, as do RCMP officers as part of their Red Serge ceremonial attire. As the official boot of the Calgary Stampede, Alberta Boot Co. boots are worn by parade marshals, CS royalty and the Showband. The company also does custom orders with as much (or as little) flair as clients want.

Working behind the scenes is the father-daughter duo of Antonio Juarez, Alberta Boot Co. Outfitters’ vice president of operations, and Ana Karen Ludwig, production supervisor. Originally from Mexico, the family has a legacy of leatherworking that goes back generations.

We caught up with Juarez and Ludwig to learn about the “sole” that goes into making an Alberta Boot Co. boot.

 

How did you get started in leatherworking?

AJ: “We had a little shop next to my house [in Mexico] and I would watch my dad and grandfather. As a kid, you want to copy [them], so it was natural for me. Sometimes my friends would want a belt, and I would say ‘I can do that,’ so I started my own little side hustle.

AKL: “It’s one of those things that’s in your blood: My dad, his grandpa taught him, and when I was a little girl, I would always watch [my dad]. He would bring me to the store, and I started seeing the creativity in all of those pieces being put together.”

 

What do you love about leather working?

AJ: “Watching my dad making saddles, belts, shoes, it was a relaxing time for him, stitching by hand. So when I started doing it, I found it was relaxing. I just remember thinking, ‘I like this’.”

AKL: “I remember very clearly the room in the backyard in Mexico. You would go in through this old, rickety door — as soon as you opened it, you smelled all the leather.”

 

What are some crazy custom requests you’ve had?

AJ: “One or two people ask for things like ‘an ostrich heel, but alligator on the front, with kangaroo here and a piece of snake in the back’.”

AKL: “One guy wanted every piece a different colour: the front yellow, the back red, the foot green. As crazy as they might be, we can usually execute it in some way or another.”

121 10 Ave. S.E., Fairmont Banff Springs and Southcentre Mall (summer 2024), albertaboot.ca

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This article appears in the July 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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