Index For Information
Note that we have been watching what search terms people use to get to this page directly and have set up this very basic index to help you find what you are looking for faster. Note also that while much of this information is general in nature it is specifically geared toward our product line. You will have to hit your "back" button to return to the top of the page.
|Basic Information on Shearlings||Earmuffs||Shearling Costs/Expense|
|Care and Cleaning||Footwear||Shedding|
|Chemical Free; Organic Tanned; ETC||Independent Tanners|
|Dyed/Dying Shearling||Resoling||Shepherd's Flock® Home|
While you are searching the Web for just the right sheepskin product we would like you to keep just a few things in mind as you are comparing products and prices. A good product is made up of a lot of little finishing touches that are not always evident on your monitor screen. We believe we are just a little different of course and if you are actually here reading this we assume you are taking the time to do some real comparison shopping. We might as well promote ourselves a little.
We will start with some features you can see if you are looking closely at all the pictures on all the sites.
Our mittens use full panels, no center seams and no cuff seams, just a front, a back, and a thumb. The only time we add a cuff seam is when our customers want a different color cuff instead of the normal fold over style.
What you can't see is just as important. Virtually every seam is double stitched to help guard against accidental unraveling. Products are all hand cut with a furrier's knife, not a press, which creates a much nicer wool edge. We take the time and effort to avoid as many blemishes as humanly possible, again, a nicer looking product. And as simple as it may seem we have, for many years, posted a flat fee for resoling our shearling bottomed slippers. The leather in the uppers is the expensive part. Why should you throw them out if the upper is still strong?
One last note. Aside from sundry items like the crepe soles, everything is 100% real shearling. So, when you are comparing items, be sure to ask if the entire product is the real thing, especially in footwear. Even that big fancy sheepskin boot firm does not use 100% shearling in their footwear. You have a right to know how much of the product is shearling and how much is not. And, while you are at it, ask where the items are made. Except for the gloves we offer over the Internet, sheepskin rugs, and steering wheel covers, all of our products are made right here in Vermont (USA) from US and/or imported lambskins.
So, we may lose big time on the convenience
side of the game (see ordering information) but that
is because we still like doing business in the slow lane. We
don't want to be a
"factory" and have to worry about
firing people or laying them off when business is slow or when we
decide to send production overseas. So, whatever item(s) you order, that item is cut, sewn, packed,
and shipped by one of two people (who also have to answer the
phone and the email, maintain the website, try to stay as high
on Google as humanly possible, do the accounting,
etc.). Next day delivery, hah!
The following are the most frequently asked questions we have
heard both at the shows and festivals we attend and over the Internet. Some are
much more apt to come up when we are dealing in person with people but every
question and every answer on this page has been repeated hundreds, if not
thousands, of times over the years.
What is shearling?
The very basic
answer to that question is the skin of a sheep or lamb that has been
tanned with the wool left on the hide.
County Fur Products
Promised land Tanning
228 Cameron Lake Loop Rd.
Okanogan, WA 98840
5965 S. Broadway
Englewood, CO 80113
Vermont Natural Sheepskins
12 Prince St., Suite 2C
Randolph, VT 05060
Stern Tanning Company
PO Box 55
Sheboygan Falls, WI 53085
As stated, Rick
served as chief dyer in his days at the Lawrence Tannery. Dying
properly is a special process that requires two different dyes,
one for the leather and one for the wool. (This may have
changed. We will see where technology is now and post an
update if/when we find out differently.) These are both done in a hot water bath with chemical
dyes which is
necessary to "fix" the dyes properly. If you purchase an
expensive shearling product (working on the base value of our
own products which we do consider expensive) the last thing you want is
for the dye to transfer when it gets a bit wet or, if you take
it to the dry cleaner, have the color vanish. So, no, we do not
do any dying here. It would not be practical or permanent.
The second one is a much broader question, one we are actually happy to answer for everyone as it comes up a great deal with our first time customers. Note that we will be "countering" claims from some of the larger retail firms as we do check on what they are posting.
With the exception of the white we use for Ear Muffs, any style, and the long wool white we use for the Foot muff , The Hand Muff, and the trim on the Shaggy Brim Hats, everything we use has been dyed to some extent.
When speaking specifically about shearlings, though it applies to many other leathers as well, modern tannage produces a white leather and a white wool (unless there is natural coloration in the wool or staining from a variety of normal sources). The majority of skins are chrome tanned (second entry in the list of definitions) which actually gives them a blue tint when they are fresh out of tan and wet. Thus the leather term, "wet blue". But, when they are dried they are pure white.
The term "natural", when used to refer to the leather is a product of older, often vegetable, tanning methods which created a tan or brown color in the course of tanning. The leather color of the Bark Tanned skins we use for slipper soles is a very good example. This leather color is not dyed. The wool is often "tinted" during processing because the tan extract does impact the wool color and the tanneries add the tint to make wool color more consistent. In general, vegetable tanned sheepskin is much less likely to be available on the market in finished consumer goods.
One specific note about wool coloration. In many cases wool is dyed or tinted a solid color or left in its natural color. There as also a process known as "tip dying" which produces a two color effect on the wool side of a skin. The "Tonka" color we use for our products is an example. When a skin is tip dyed the wool is either left its natural color or dyed a solid color first. The wool is straightened and combed and then the skins are sent through a large spray machine that sprays a fine mist of another color wool dye that settles only on the tips of the wool. We have used skins with a wide variety of color combinations over the years and, with modern methods, the dye can be stripped off of a dark color base leaving a silvery/white tip which is very striking. Contrary to some information we have seen posted, the basic reason for tip dying was to simulate the appearance of certain fur skins. When originally introduced, AC Lawrence produced three basic colors of tip dyed skins called Stone Martin, Ranch Mink, and Opossum. After a few years and most likely due to confusion in the market, the colors became known as Stoney, Ranch, and Possum. However, the use of tip dying exploded and many combinations were/are produced solely because it is attractive. As a side note, the color that many, many retailers refer to as "natural color sheepskin" is actually known as "Stoney" in the trade. In 2011, we noted that one very large retailer was not only referring to it as "natural", they were also claiming it was undyed. Untrue, very untrue (shaking head).
So, we don't care what people tell you, if you are purchasing shearling from anyone, unless it is white it has most likely been dyed.
The same holds true for the wool. Yes, there are natural colored breeds. In many cases the wool on these skins is dyed dark brown or black to cover the natural coloration or they are left in their natural state and sold as rugs. The term "natural" when it comes to just wool coloration is normally a reference to wool that has been tinted during the processing so that lanolin staining is not noticeable, a creamy color. When it comes to wool, "natural" to us means white with the possibility of some slightly visible creamy coloration. (Primarily visible in the products that use the long wool shearlings.)
Why is shearling so expensive? (Frequently used search term.)
Sheepskins are a global commodity, just like oil.
However, they are also a by product of the meat industry so
supply can be limited by a variety of factors. When the demand
is high the price goes up especially when supplies are low (like
during the hoof and mouth outbreak in the
UK in 2001)
and demand in the beginning of this decade was been driven by the good marketing folks at UGG
Australia® and, of course, the
people buying their boots as well as the cheap knock off ones. This helps to
explain why our skin prices rose 30% to 60% between the spring
of 2010 and the spring of 2012. To put it in the words of Decker's Corp. (parent
company of UGG Australia®), "........as
the result primarily of higher raw material cost namely
sheepskin, which are up approximately 40% over 2011 levels and
up approximately 80% versus 2010....."* But while
their stock went down, we just kept on truckin' and
producing basic items that are meant not to be fashionable but
to do a job and not end up in the closet when the next big thing
* Transcript Q4 2011 Deckers Earnings call. We are not nor do we want to be associated with Deckers Corp or UGG Austrailia® in any manner. This quote just underscores the reality of the market place.
Skin prices are relatively cyclical with fashion being the main driving force. We have seen many price spikes in our short history. However, ovine skins are unique in that the demand can come from the shearling side of the industry or the skin only side. Shearling prices can rise even if there is no demand as long as there is a demand for "de-haired" lambskins in particular. Straight lambskin is used for very fine garments. We have also seen instances where we simply could not get supplied from the tanneries because supply was so tight. We have posted a chart of sheepskin cost trends covering our 30+ years so you can see how volatile the market can be.
Prices for tanned and finished skins have stabilized for now which is a good thing after having to our raise prices substantially twice a year for a couple of years while still absorbing some of those massive increases. However, and few will ever know this, even Decker's Corp is now using a "sheepskin substitute" in their UGG® sheepskin products. To quote The Motley Fool, "To hedge itself against volatile sheepskin prices, the company introduced the UGGPure boot, a proprietary process using wool attached to a backing, which the company thinks has a promising future." (Three Cold-Weather Retailers to Warm Your Investing Returns, 12/21/2013) If you don't believe that one, surely you can believe Reuters, 10/24/2013. We remain 100% shearling in all products, no substitutes. Check the "details" section on anything you are looking at "on-line".
Do you use Australian sheepskins; they are supposed to be the best?
Okay, not to annoy our Australian
counterparts, but why not New Zealand skins? Every sheep grower
we know wants to visit New Zealand now or in another lifetime.
That is on the “bucket list” for so many of the small growers we
have come to know and love. We think the NZ folks are getting
Marketing, our dear customers/potential customers, plain old marketing, is why Australian skins are understood to be the best and, in many cases, the retailer is doing slight of hand/redirect because the skins may be Australian but they are tanned in China and the consumer item is made in China although Vietnam is becoming a popular country for footwear production now as well.
We are going to be non committal here and attempt to give you
the facts and let you decide and, no, we really do not want to
do anything to damage the reputation of any real
Australian tanner or consumer goods producer. Likewise the NZ
folks. We are all in this together.
Skins from Australia and/or New Zealand tend to be a bit more breed specific than our US skins. Yes, the denseness of the wool on the skin will likely be more consistent than found in domestic sheepskins and, the wool, in general, does tend to be denser.
Domestic skins are a wide variety of breeds/wool types but it is important to understand that it is all wool. At times we have worked with sheepskins that have such a silky wool people have actually accused us of sending them rabbit (honest). But, we produce the best possible product we can and every skin we work with is different from another. We try to cut the skin based on the most appropriate use. That is what we do here, one skin, one product at a time.
In fact, this question is one that has been produced by the current retail market. No one ever asked us this when we started in business. Per an earlier segment, sheepskins are a global commodity. This makes it difficult to ascertain exactly where the skin comes from. The mega retailers who sell you something from sheepskin cannot absolutely guarantee where the skins they use originated. They don’t really care, either. Again, out of respect for our overseas counterparts, we do recognize their claims to be 100% Australian or NZ in nature. But we have our doubts about the mass market claims. US sheepskins are much sought after because of their size, especially with the boot makers. This would indicate that there is a high probability that what you may purchase is actually produced from a US origin sheepskin regardless of the claims being made. (We are going to pat ourselves on the back here. After we posted this little piece of information, years ago, Decker's Corp actually started admitting that they were not making UGG® labeled products from 100% Australian sheepskins and that they were also using skins from Europe and the USA. Chuckle)
Aside from the specialty and easily noticed skins mentioned below, we would also caution you regarding other claims that some firms make. "We use just Merino sheepskin" is a claim that can rarely be backed up though you will find it used to describe slippers and other products offered by many retail establishments. This claim gets even more specific than the country of origin claims and the more specific one gets in origin/breed information claims the less likely it is true. It is also important to note that, in recent discussions with a source in Australia, we have learned there is much more cross breeding happening in the Australian sheep industry so the 100% Merino claim is becoming more and more questionable.
We must add that there are numerous specialty types of lambskin
that still fall under the leather/shearling category. Most are
not really suitable to slipper/boot production but make
wonderful mittens, hats, coats, gloves, trim, etc. Some of
those, but certainly not all are, “Icelandic”, “Spanish Merino”,
“Toscana”, “Tibetan”, and “Slink”. The prices for items made
from these skins will generally be much higher than products
made from what one would consider standard shearlings.
As for our products, specifically, the only items that may be from Australian origin sheepskins would be seat belt covers, special ear muffs, or insoles. The long wool, natural white skins are also from Australian or New Zealand skins. We do, on occasion, use some non-US shearlings in other items when we are sampling from a new source of supply but these products will only be available at direct retail situations.
Do your sheepskins have lanolin in the wool?
This question has bothered us for
a very long while. It never came up before mass marketing via
the Internet. One could also say mass “copying”. Everyone copies
what they see on someone else’s site factual or otherwise (and
we have seen our notes copied word for word on other sites
without appropriate footnotes).
But, despite all attempts to get scientific evidence to support
the claims regarding lanolin in sheepskin/shearling, we are left
with no answers from chemists and those are the only answers
that we can trust.
That being said we are going to give the public our opinion. This is opinion based on hands on experience in the actual processing/tanning itself as well as the time spent “table cutting” our products.
We do not believe this is a valid claim. In brief, the very
first thing to happen after the skins are sorted and trimmed is
they are put into what is known as “first wash”. We speak only
of shearling skins but expect it is a universal process in all
leathers. First wash is a 24 hour bath in very hot water and
detergents that must be handled with heavy protective gloves and
a face shield. The purpose is to remove as much foreign matter
and grease as possible before the tanning process begins.
Foreign matter of any kind may/will interfere with tanning.
Because of this process it is unlikely that there is enough
lanolin left to be of any consequence even at the very beginning of
Further down the processing chain the skins will go through a dry cleaning process to absolutely remove any leftover grease and/or foreign material. Any reputable tanner will complete this prior to dying the skins. Note that some believe that first wash alone will be enough and do not do this process. Again, we do not believe that anything other than trace amounts of lanolin would be left after this process, especially after first wash is completed. Between first wash and dry cleaning the skins are subjected to a variety of acids during the tanning process which we would assume would further break down/remove any "natural" lanolin.
At the end of the tanning process and at the end of dying a substance called fatliquor is added in which lanolin may be added. However, the fatliquor is primarily to lubricate the leather fibers and we have found no references to the introduction of lanolin during this phase of shearling production.
If the claims about lanolin are true it should be evident at the
cutting table since we hand cut everything which requires a
great deal of contact with the wool. During the winter season,
when we are working many skins a day, our hands dry out to a
great extent. This would be considered normal because of the
moisture wicking abilities of wool. This is why sheepskin
slippers are better than synthetics and plain leather slippers.
The wool takes the moisture away from your feet and the air
circulation helps them stay comfortable in all temperature
extremes. However, if there really was a reasonable amount of
lanolin in the wool the opposite should be true and we should
feel as though we had put lotion on our hands at the end of a
Again, this is our opinion and we are open to comments/corrections from anyone with a degree and experience in tan chemistry as it relates to shearlings. Note, we have seen so much misinformation on the Internet we only accept a degree and, yes, we actually do have to contacts to check you out. If you are real sure of your position, post "counter intelligence" on our FB wall so all can see it.
As a side note, if you put your hand into a sheepskin product and the wool or the leather feels really greasy, do not buy it. It is probably real grease and the skin has not been tanned properly. You will know what we mean if you do a little comparison shopping the old fashioned way. Ran into that with some seat belt covers Walmart* was selling some time back. (Come on, of course we check them out! We check everybody out.) If one squeezed the leather hard the grease would run down your fingers.
* Not really sure, at this point, what the true name of the corp is but we are covering our rear ends here. They own the trademark, if there is one, we don't. Not ashamed to say that. Besides, we are just making an assumption here. Our attorney told us to always include the registered mark when doing anything for public consumption yet Walmart does not. Hmm, open season on their "trade name" ??
Are sheep killed in order to obtain their skins?
We have pretty
much explained where the skins come from and we would leave
this alone except for all the UGG Australia®* boot lovers who seem to think
that uggs (generic term) are made of shorn wool like that beautiful sweater
your Grandma knitted for you.
We also know some groups out there are real busy spreading alternative facts but, here is the real story.
Fact, sheep are raised primarily for food. Fact, sheepskins/shearlings are a by-product of the food/meat industry. Any true leather is animal skin. For years pig skins were tossed in the dumps until someone figured out a way to turn them into a real fine leather. Anyone who knows that some fish skins are tanned, please raise your hand.
Fact, ugg type sheepskin boots, any make or brand, are not simply wool sheared from the sheep no matter what people believe. The skins we use are not like Mink, raised only for the value of the skin. To the best of our knowledge, only Persian Lamb or Broadtail Lamb is a "fur" (raised for the value of the skin) and we do not use either. Mickey D's anyone??
Chemical Free; Organic Tanned; Etc; Sheepskins
Will you give us advance notice before you "retire"?
Not your typical big corporate frequently asked question, is it? Many years ago a customers gifted us a saying, "Man Plans, God Laughs." So, we are not going to tell you our plans, only our hopes. Here, in the sticks, in Vermont, one simple little tick bite can change all your "plans".
We intend to keep going full steam (as much steam as we can muster anyway) through 2018, and through 2019 though we may begin to cut back starting mid year. We are working with a youngster who has much more energy than we do and we hope to turn things over to him by the end of 2019. He would, then, also take over customer support like resoling, replacing broken ear muff bands etc.
If that does not work out, we will stop producing new merchandise but continue to support our customers for a time by resoling and replacing ear muff bands when needed.
So, we do not know if this admission is going to spur business in the next couple of years or hurt it but, we have always tried to be honest with our customers and this question is coming up a lot these days. In July of 2018, it will have been forty years since Rick walked out of the tannery for the last time, as an employee, and we began this marvelous experiment that, somehow, actually paid off. We owe you all a great deal of thanks for that. Thanks for hangin' with us all these years.
FAQ'S FROM INTERNET CUSTOMERS
Why don't you have on-line ordering? (Most often asked question and complaint.)
Easy, to help us maintain a better level of service to our customers.
We are T-I-N-Y compared to that mass of retailers out there so we can
only handle a certain amount of business from our web site. We
don't have massive statistics to share with you as hundreds of people a
day is nothing. But, if even 1% of the
people who visited did a "point and click" on an item we would
be in big trouble. By keeping ordering just a bit more difficult, (like
picking up the phone is a struggle) we are more confident that we will
be able to continue to fill our (your) orders and deliver as we promised.
As an example, during the holiday season of 2005, at one point, we booked
three days worth of work over one two hour period and that was over the
phone. We honestly could not handle the volume that might come in
through point and click once the weather starts to cool down.
|Weight||UPS (OUR COST)||FedEx (OUR COST)||WHAT WE CHARGE YOU FOR COAST TO COAST SHIPMENT|
|Less than 1 pound, ground||20.35||20.28||$8 OR $13|
|Less than 2 pounds, ground||23.61||24.64||
Priority Mail, 2 to 3
day delivery, USA addresses.
|Less than 2 pounds, 3 day||55.77||62.89|
|Less than two pounds, 2 day||70.30||81.81|
Better still, if we ship a less than one pound box (ear muffs) 10 miles down the road, UPS would charge $12.38 and FedEx Ground would charge $12.37. Just thought you should have all the facts in front of you before you request an alternate shipping method. If the "big guys" had their way, they would eliminate all USPS parcel delivery so they could charge even more. (Except for the fact that they could no longer rely on the USPS for "last mile" delivery and save themselves a fortune.)
A bit more for your information so you can see how "stacked charges" work. You can also see what happened when both FedEx (ground) and UPS decided to charge based on box size instead of actual weight on smaller boxes at the beginning of 2015.
Understand why we ship via USPS now?
We have had customers ask who signed for a package when it ends up missing in some business or apartment building. Well, no one actually gets a signature any more unless one pays extra. So, to have a signature at the end of the line, UPS charges $5.95 and FedEx charges $5.50. If you want to go the signature route, our charge will be $3.50 to do that.
Sorry, no. In most cases, skins that have been tanned by the companies mentioned previously are not skins that we could effectively turn into products. It has to do with the fine sewing machines we work with, the thickness of the resulting leather, and the fact that most of them have too much wool on the skin to make a reasonable product from. In addition, and this is no small matter, if we cut into a skin that you own and make a mistake, we would be obligated to you for the value of that skin. If we cut into a skin that we own and make a mistake, we can recoup some of the costs by turning it into smaller product. We cannot do that with your skin(s) and, regardless of the "releases" we might transmit beforehand, we are good people who hold our customers/visitors in the highest of esteem and really try to "do right" by them. So, the answer is absolute, we will not work with skins that you provide. Better to make you unhappy now then, possibly, later.
Relative to the question about duplicating items, no, we do not. Technically we can do a lot. From a practical standpoint (that making a living thing) we would have to charge a amount relative to what we are not earning by producing our normal product line. You would not be pleased with the honest cost of the item. We do do special needs work, within reason, like footwear alteration, as well as special covers for belts, chair arms, etc. Now if Warren Buffett or Bill Gates wish to underwrite an entire year of our "take home pay" and then publicize how wonderful we are at what we do, we might take them up on it and do something "custom" for them.
Ugg (type) Boots?
We are often asked if we do u-g-g boots. In one answer, no. In the first place we do not believe that sheepskin is a durable enough leather for constant outdoor wear. Sure, if you have a closet full of UGG® boots and only wear a pair when the color matches your outfit, they will last. However, in our own trials, we get no more than a year to a year and a half out of outdoor only use items. Of course, that is constant outdoor use, four seasons worth, and in all the slop that you can imagine here in VT during the winter and the spring in particular. In addition, why would we develop an entire line of products that could result in litigation with a big and powerful US corporation if we happen to slip up in our wording of our offerings? Like, even if we could win, we could not afford the fight.
As weird as it may seem, since ugg boots are a relatively new marketing endeavor, (based on our longevity in this business) you will find a serious wealth of information on Wikipedia. Okay, it is rare that we would ever refer anyone there but, from what we have researched on our own, the section seems pretty darn accurate. We are not going to rehash everything that is there, just concentrate on a few points that the general public is rarely introduced to though, if you are really interested, we suggest you go read what is on Wikipedia.
We, in the USA, all know about L.L. Bean's® "Wicked Good® Slippers", right? "Wicked Good®" is a registered trademark but it stops before the word "slippers". (They really should not have been able to register "Wicked Good" to be honest.) Suppose L.L.Bean® had been able to register the entire phrase "Wicked Good Slippers" and then decided to send out a cease and desist letter to anyone who used the word "slippers" in their product description including little old Shepherd's Flock®. Would you approve of such tactics?
This is essentially what happened when Deckers Outdoor Corporation bought the "trademark" from Brian Smith (who was, himself, nothing more than an importer, mind you). All of a sudden, what was a generic term for a particular type of sheepskin footwear was "registered" worldwide and no longer available for use by ALL those firms, large and small, who had been making them for many years (since the 1950's by most accounts but earlier by others). Deckers went forth with a scorched earth policy and trampled on anyone and everyone who was making and/or marketing a product called an "ugg boot".
While the original owner/owners of "UGG®" in the USA were not actually manufacturing anything, they were importing their goods from the home of the ugg boot, Australia, and benefiting many people in Australia by doing so. To the best of what we have been able to ascertain with our research, the original principals of the UGG® trademark here in the USA never seriously interfered with the global marketing of ugg boots that were produced in Australia or other countries and not sold by their firm. They may have not told the whole truth when they registered the trademark, but they were not as uggly in their approach to the world wide marketing of similar footwear.
This is actually extremely important as our research has shown that the sheepskin industry in Australia took a much different path from the industry in the USA and Europe. In the USA and Europe, in our beginning days, the primary market for sueded sheepskins was the garment industry, not the footwear industry. Australia's tanning sector developed largely to support the production of ugg boots. That shows how significant the boots were to the Australian market.
By the time Deckers purchased the "UGG®" brand, a large number of people were employed in the manufacturing of boots in both Australia and elsewhere and that included those who made the boots for the original company/importers here in the USA. Deckers pulled the manufacturing of the boots and sent it to China though we have been unable to ascertain if they did maintain production in Australia for a short time or actually went straight to China. So, not only did they assault all those independent businesses that had developed a market for their product, much like ourselves and our products, they pulled the contracts from firms who were making boots for the original company. Bingo, destruction of a good and stable industry. One of the results, a significant one, can now be found here.
The Australians did fight back, much to their credit and their expense, and managed to convince the folks in charge there that ugg was a generic term, much like slippers, and was, therefore, not able to be trademarked. That was/is only in Australia and it had no bearing on the rest of the world. The Wall Street Journal (2010) of all places had a nice article about the fight but that has since disappeared. There is currently a new battle being waged and the beginning info on that is here.
We fully understand UGG Australia's® anti counterfeiting campaign and support that on some level. The primary support from us is that, yes indeed, now that they have put millions of dollars into marketing, two bit firms in China are cranking out UGG® Boots like crazy and the ethics of those firms leave a lot to be desired. If you see "cheap" UGG® boots on the market, any market, there is a lot of blood money involved, animal and human. Take our word for it, you can't make "cheap" ugg boots with an ethical supply chain even though Deckers's profit margin is a bit on the high side (our personal opinion).
But, we are sick and tired of people commenting that we are selling "fake" UGGS® simply because we work in shearlings and, yes, we have heard that too many times when doing direct retail. If we are already hearing "fake UGGS®" why would we subject ourselves to more abuse?
We know that there are ethical companies out there who produce the real thing just without the well hyped name tag. We have also been fortunate to get to know some of the individuals involved in the production of GENUINE AUSTRALIAN MADE boots. Matter of fact, one has to wonder if the most "ethical" purchase is one made from an authentic Australian firm. They may not have "the label" but you can boast that you are wearing boots made by the folks who actually started the product line and were all but destroyed by a nasty American corporation that doesn't make anything in Australia. Shame your friends, tell them the story of what they are supporting and buy a real Aussie made pair. We have a few companies listed on our "competitor's page".
Top Question of all times - How long do the shearling soles last?
There is no definitive answer to this question. There are many
factors that determine the life span of the shearling on the bottom not the
least of which are the habits of the user. Some people will wear through the
bottom in a season and we can honestly say that we have had people whose soles
(souls?) have lasted ten years. We believe the average life span is about two
years though it could be much longer. We have to go by the age of the slippers
we get back for resoling. Do note that wearing these on
abrasive surfaces such as concrete and/or wearing them outside
will greatly shorten the lifespan. So, we cannot promise you
will get XX amount of time before the soles wear through.
May I have a different outsole material?
People do ask us if they can have this sole material or that sole material and, in general, the answer is "possibly" but a one of a kind is very expensive. We do have minimums that we have to meet with our suppliers (do you want 100 pair?) and our machinery is only capable of sewing certain items. We have gone to great lengths to find the longest lasting soling material possible given our production capabilities. Anything different you may want in the way of an outsole will cost you at least what we charge per pair already and most likely more. We work with the belief that we should give you the best longevity we can for the money and we are satisfied that the crepe accomplishes that goal.
We get a lot of people who ask us if we can put leather soles on the slippers instead of the crepe. For a large number of technical reasons, we do not use leather as an outsole material. There are firms out there who use a wide variety of leather and, honest, we will not be offended if you decide to do business with them.
How are the crepe soles attached?
5/16" thick crepe outsole.
Which is better, the shearling sole or the crepe sole?
It is simply a matter of personal preference and personal habits. Many people simply don't like a slipper with a ridged bottom. However, if you are one of those folks who seem to run outside "just for a minute" in your slippers day in and day out you will be much happier with the durability of the crepe sole. It is a trade off. For comfort we suggest the shearling sole, for wandering out to get the mail or downstairs into the basement we suggest the crepe sole.
May I purchase the scuffs without the crepe bottom?
Of course we could make them without the crepe bottom but they would not work out. The shearling is too flexible and would fold up under your foot every time you took a step. So, no, we do not make scuffs without the crepe bottom. Sorry.
How do I go about getting my slippers resoled?
Simply package them up with a check for $21 and send them to our PO Box. The fee covers All Charges including return postage. If you send them back Priority Mail you can even get the box or mailing envelope free from your post office. Ask them for a Tyvek Priority Mail envelope (best choice and least expensive) or a Priority Mail box. If you can sleaze a package into your boss's UPS or FedEx shipment thus saving you the cost of returning them, drop us an email and we will send you the street address. Resoling takes up to three weeks during June, July and August and six weeks during the remainder of the year. We do not do resoling in November, December or January so please do not return your slippers to us near or during those months. Please remember this is for the shearling soled slippers only and only our products. We absolutely do not/will not work on other people's products. Please be sure to put your return mail address, phone number, and email address on a separate piece of paper in the box with the check.
Why can't you resole the crepe soled slippers?
Planned obsolescence! No, not really. Two main reasons. Removing the sole requires the use of a solvent which is usually soaked up by the upper as well. The sewing machine needle we use to sew through the crepe is much larger than other needles so it creates larger perforations in the leather. By the time the crepe wears out the slipper is usually quite weak anyway and would never hold a new stitch with that needle. The new sole would likely tear right off.
Will my (child's/neighbor's/friend's/etc) dog eat my slippers?
This depends on the
dog. Some dogs will never bother them at all, others will tear
into them like a lion on a wildebeest. In the interest of full
disclosure, we do have to make note that
our dear departed CEO
instituted a special rewards program for dogs. This
rewards program covers all of our products but slippers
seem to be the most popular. We told him it was really a "kick
back" situation but he said that kick backs are illegal. Same
thing to us but what do we know?
Are the frames adjustable?
No, they are solid and cannot be adjusted. They will fit most adults. We have available a slightly shorter frame (velvet covered only) and try to keep a few around for those who really need one. However, we have found that it is still too long for very young children. The total length of the normal frame from the bottom of one ring to the bottom of the other is approximately 17½ inches. The total length of the smaller frame measured the same way is approximately 16½ inches. The diameter of each ring is 3 inches. When in doubt it is best to order the standard length frame as they certainly fit the majority of our customers without any problem. Note, again, that the shorter ear muff frames are available with the black velvet covered band only. You can also adjust the length by turning the muff part up a bit on the pin. The only trouble is it is tough to explain in print.
Do you do the behind the head style?
No, we do not for a couple of reasons, the first of which is lack of supply for the appropriate frames for this style. The second reason is that we do not think it would work since we line the inside with shearling. The wool is not a solid mass like cloth or "sherpa" so they would tend to slide down off your head as you moved. Gravity would prevail. To date, we have not seen any of this style in shearling even on the big wholesale web site for China so there must be good reason. Of course maybe we just haven't gone to the right web sites but if Chinese manufacturers are not selling them, we doubt you can find them.
What are the ear muff frames made from?
Plastic. We don't know if anyone makes metal band ear muff frames any more. Please note that we do not make the frames. We get them from a supplier so we have no control over length or the components used in their production. They are assembled in the USA from imported and domestic components. Really, folks, we do not own a plastics factory otherwise we would be in the business of selling plastics, not shearling. That seems to be a very big misunderstanding.
Why the difference in price between the "standard" style and the "special" and "traditional" styles?
The "standard" style are made from pieces left over from production of our larger products. The "special" and "traditional" styles are produced from skins bought specifically for ear muffs and, in the case of the "special" style, seat belt covers. So, in the "standard" style, the price reflects only the cost of the frames and the labor involved. In the "special" and "traditional" styles, the cost of the shearling is added in. Other than that, the "standard" style ear muffs are only available in one color while we offer a selection in the other two ear muff styles.
We assume people really mean, "Will they break under normal circumstances?" The answer to the first question is, "Of course they will, especially if it is twenty below and you rip them out of your pocket and pull them apart as fast as possible because your ears are freezing." The answer to the second question is, " Not generally under normal circumstances." It does happen once in awhile because nothing is ever perfect, and yes, as they get older they get more brittle. However, as you see by the picture our frames use a metal hinge and a wire for the muff base. Frames that are 100 % plastic are very apt to break apart at the hinge. If they do break after a period of time we will be happy to replace the frame so don't throw them away. The cost of frame replacement is $7 for the velvet covered bands, $10 for the leather or $11 for the shearling covered bands. This includes return shipping. Please be sure to put your return mail address, phone number, and email address on a separate piece of paper in the box/envelope with the check. That is "cost basis" meaning we make little, if anything, on the replacement. However, this offer is only extended to our customers with our ear muffs. We absolutely will not repair ear muffs that we did not produce. You buy from us, you get our service. Honestly, if they are not ours, take them back to whomever you bought them from for repair. That only seems fair. Also, please do not go to a great expense to send them back. The least expensive way to return them is in a large kraft/manila envelope or the equivalent and send them first class mail. This is exactly how they will be returned to you. The base idea is to keep the total cost of repair to a bare minimum.
Will I lose them?
Well, some of you will. Seriously, we sell you a pair of ear muffs and we will replace the band for you at a nominal cost. We have replaced the bands for ear muffs that hardly have any wool left on them they are so old. How on earth can a company stay in business when people fix and not replace their products? So, with the help of modern technology, we randomly implant a tiny little gizmo in ear muffs that makes them jump out of your pocket, hide when you set them down on the seat of a taxi or a train so you forget them, or make your dog attack them. That means we keep people coming back to purchase new pairs and, usually, a backup pair or two. Isn't technology just wonderful?
Will someone steal them?
Regrettably, yes. Reports of ear muffs disappearing when one's back is turned are really fairly frequent. On one hand, it makes us proud that the thieves think ours are just as good as UGG's ear muffs and, therefore, worthy of being stolen but that does not do our customers any good. So, we are teaming up with a high tech firm to develop a special "catch the thief" feature. The plan is to install a micro sensor that you set when you purchase them so they recognize your head. We will then insert special dye packs that leak rather than explode. When the ear muffs are on the wrong head the purple dye will leak all over their face making them easily recognizable by law enforcement. The only drawback is that you will not be able to loan them to your friends as, when they are finished wearing them, they will look like Barney.
Will my new kitten destroy them?
We never even suspected that this would come up as a question as we did not think our gizmo, mentioned above, attracted felines. But, it seems they make pretty good kitten toys if you happen to leave them lying around. So, if you have some ear muffs of ours and get a new kitten, do yourself a favor and have us send you a pound of cuttings or two and keep your ear muffs in a safe place. Think we made this up? Not on your life. You can see the full report by clicking here. But, what can we say, the kitten made a sale for us. Thank you.
Is it jointed?
No, it just sits there and does nothing. However, you don't have to feed and water it either since it doesn't expend any energy by moving. :)
Are they hot in the summer?
No, as a matter of fact the summer is when they are most welcome. They are strictly to keep the belt from rubbing on your neck. When one has a bulky winter coat on the coat will protect the neck. During the summer lighter weight clothing often allows the belt to chaff. If you scoff at the necessity then simply ask someone who doesn't fit the "normal" height most shoulder harnesses are set for. Believe it or not we have heard from a few accident victims who have informed us that the belt cover helped to lesson the belt bruising that can occur in a major accident. They were, of course, very grateful that they were wearing the belt. Belt bruising or not, it was better to be alive.
Will your seat belt cover fit my shoulder harness?
Haven't found any they won't fit yet as long as they are installed according to the instructions included with the cover. It should be noted that because we specifically designed our cover for shoulder harness application it will not fit anything wider but it is usable for any kind of strap that is narrower and flat. Please also note that you have the option to purchase them in any length you desire. These ARE NOT to be used on seat belts that contain air bags.
Can you make belt covers for my child's car seat?
We could but we have researched this through our local chapter of "Safe Kids" and the answer is, "No." It is ill advised to do anything that may change the dynamics of the restraint system for children. This also includes children in booster seats. We did not want to answer this without back up and Safe Kids is a great organization. If you have young children you should check them out and see if there is an affiliate in your area.
What about covering other types of straps?
We can develop a cover for most any type of strap but we will need some details from you. Please email us and tell us what you want to cover. We prefer to do such work in the off season and may put you off for a time because of production responsibilities. The most unusual strap covers we have produced were for a fiberglass nose cone manufacturer who needed to cover the nylon lift straps as they were scarring the nose cones.
STEERING WHEEL COVERS
Why are these made in China?
strange as it may seem, that answer is due to our age. People are
constantly asking for them and we felt there was a place in the
market for us to introduce a product that is well made and is made
with sheepskin from the same company we purchase many of the skins
for special ear muffs, innersoles, and seat belt covers from. But,
for us to do them ourselves, we would need to buy an attachment for
one of our sewing machines or, worse yet, a whole new machine. Given
the fact that retirement/semi retirement is in our future we are
simply not in the mood to purchase anything in the way of new
equipment. Such would be financially foolish.
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