Made in the Northwest: JK Custom Boots
SPOKANE, Wash. – John and Natalie Khadzhi came to Spokane from Bulgaria to pursue the American Dream.
“I always had a dream inside me to have my own business and to grow up the family in that land,” said John Khadzhi, the owner of JK Custom Boots.
They started the company in 1994, making quality boots the old fashioned way.
“We do everything by hand,” explained Khadzhi. “And we value the small, family business.”
And it’s truly a family business, as Khadzhi’s three sons have all chosen to become bootmakers as well.
“I believed in the vision that my dad had. I believed in the dream,” said Khadzhi’s youngest son, Tim. “And I’m so happy that I did it. I think it’s the best choice that I ever made.”
“It is so amazing. I enjoy everyday to work with them,” added John.
Because they’re handcrafted, JK Boots are not cheap. But they’re tough and their quality has made them the preferred boot for some tough customers.
“We’re definitely making boots for wildland firefighters, loggers, diesel mechanics, guys who are out in the forest, guys who are just on their feet all day,” said Tim.
John Khadzhi’s decades of bootmaking experience have made him a true master of his craft. And he’s passed that expertise on to his sons.
“You’ve got to know what you’re doing, you’ve got to feel it, because it’s leather, it’s not steel,” said Tim.
In a process called bottoming, nails are driven in one at a time to secure the boot’s supportive shank.
“So we’re building up the arch. We’re building up that leather mid.”
Tim Khadzhi said JK Boots are also stitched inside and out to seal the pieces together so nothing can get through.
“So many times, guys will come back and they’ll say, ‘Man, I was walking through puddles and mud and rain and snow.’ And their feet are dry. And that’s amazing.”
The Khadzhis take their time, making only about 30-35 pairs of boots each month. And every single boot is embossed with John’s initials, JK.
“That’s why we do the quality work because here is my name. It’s my reputation,” he said. “And I care about every pair we build here.”
“Every guy that’s wearing a pair of boots, I want them to be happy, because that’s us, that our name,” added Tim.
And once you’re a customer, you’re basically considered family, as each pair can be resoled again and again to keep you in them for a long time.
“So guys are wearing their boots for 15 years,” said Tim.
It’s a legacy purchase from a man whose own legacy is being carried on through his sons.
“They’re going to continue to the journey of building boots,” said John proudly.
“And it’s with our dad, for our dad, kind of,” added Tim. “We honor him a lot. And so, it means a lot.”
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