September 7, 2023.13 min read.Health
——— By Kendall

Boots with a Bonus: Alvie’s KickBack Program

Photo: Kendall wearing Alvie’s Trinity Boot in Snowpocolypse white. Also available in Past Midnight black. Glass heart bolo by Katie Kismet for Austin Bolo. Photo by Gary Smith, Loop 1 Photography.

(Warning: Major digression here. I set out to write about some boots and ended up on a whole journey; hang with me!)

Perhaps something folks don’t know about me is that I competed for Texas High School Rodeo Association (THSRA) Queen. I used to shy away from admitting it. I had grown up around some bias that no self-respecting cowgirl would “run” for rodeo queen. We’d rather be roping calves, tying goats, “cutting” steers, and rounding barrels – all events that arose out of ranch life activities and needs – rather than dressing up in sequins, circling an arena, waving at the audience, and competing for the biggest hair. But at the time, I was the student President of Region III THSRA (and my step-father was the parent President), we had no one from our region willing to represent us at the state competition, and – he argued – we wanted and needed the points that are awarded for it. In high school rodeo, each weekly competition is an event in and of itself – with winnings; however, you’re also competing for the year – accumulating points with every weekend’s potential winnings. And you get points for each event you do. While some folks specialize and stick to their lanes, others compete for “all around” cowgirl/cowboy – so the more points you get, the better. Fine. I was convinced to run for our region’s rodeo queen. (I agreed mostly because I thought I would be uncontested at the regional level, automatically earn the points, and go to state competition to get more points. Little did I know that others would throw their names in the hat last minute, and I actually had to compete for it. I won at the regional level and went on to compete at the state level.) There’s a lot more to the story here, but I’ve got to jump ahead to the relevance to today’s post. I ended up winning Runner-Up for Texas State High School Rodeo Association Queen… which was the exact place I wanted. (I wanted the points, and I wanted the validation for all the hard work – but I did not want to win, which equated to traveling the state my senior year representing high school rodeo. Getting “second best” was my ideal.) Running for rodeo queen means you also compete in a number of events, from interviewing to horsemanship to modeling and so on. I aced every activity – earning first or second in every event except… EXCEPT… I got last place in modeling. Hah! I did not enjoy walking up and down that runway, stiff as a board trying to sashay to Roy Roger’s “Happy Trails To You.” And the judges comments reflected that sentiment: “It looked like you’d rather be anywhere else than in front of us.” Got that one right! So, that was my one and only experience “modeling” – and I bombed it. (Actually, there was this one time in 6th grade when a “scout” convinced me I could model IF I paid them a lot. Since this was the height of my “awkward” phase, I’m going to say it was a scam, but I’ll leave that for another day.) Back to the point…. That modeling put all my insecurities literally right up on stage in front of everyone. And I did not like it. Today, I’m reclaiming that narrative and proudly proclaiming…

I’M A MODEL MOM! Haha! Okay, that is NOT the point. The point is, I am thrilled to announce that I’ve been asked to be a Kickback Ambassador for Austin-based boot company, Alvie’s. The company is named after founder Alvie Franklin Faulkenbery IV, who was known for living in flip flops. After inheriting 13 pairs of his grandfather’s boots (and realizing that just maybe flops aren’t appropriate for every occasion), he made the switch – and is now known as a “flop and boot” guy. (Read more about his story here.) Fast forward, and a key part of his company is their give-back, by donating a portion of every sale to worthy causes. Through their Alvies Kicks Back program, they celebrate people living their authentic lives while supporting causes in our communities: “Each of our boots have a Kickback Ambassador who chooses where its charitable proceeds go. We’ve carefully selected ambassadors who represent the freedom to be themselves, and who we’re proud to have representing our brand. They are people who have contributed to the culture and character of our society: artists, entrepreneurs, musicians and more.” Stacy Franklin of Franklin BBQ, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, radio host Laurie Gallardo, and Juan in a Million owner Juan Meza, are a handful of the awesome Kickback Ambassadors repping Alvie’s boots and racking up fundraising dollars for nonprofits near to their hearts. 

Once I got over the imposter syndrome (and have had a chance to break in my new boots), I am now wearing them everywhere – even to bed. (Ask John – hah!) I get to be the Kickback Ambassador for The TrinityI chose NAMI Central Texas as the nonprofit to benefit from every purchase of the Trinity. As a survivor of major depression (that included hospitalization), I appreciate that the National Alliance on Mental Illness is “dedicated to improving the lives of all individuals affected by mental illness through education, support and advocacy programs. NAMI Central Texas envisions a community that addresses mental illness as a health issue and provides the systems, resources and education for all people to achieve recovery.” (I talk a lot about that personal journey in other posts here.)

As for the boots, I’m getting all those old “rodeo queen meets drill team” vibes from the Snowpocalypse (pictured on me; they’re also available in “past midnight” black). I’m loving the nostalgia that wearing these boots has brought – a remembrance of a former life and reclaiming that period not as something to be embarrassed about – but instead, something to be wildly proud of. At a recent event I spoke at (in my Alvie’s no less!), I mentioned my previous days as a rodeo queen. A woman ran up to greet me afterwards, praising my “vibe” and commenting how cool it was that I’d been a rodeo queen. Rodeo queens, she said, held power alongside Super Woman or the Amazons, and that my past as one is something to wear proudly. I admit, I saw this former, crown-wearing life in a whole new light. And it felt good. So here’s to Alvie’s boots – and all the feels they’re bringing me, not to mention the compliments.

As I round this out, I have to go back to that trembling, “I’m going to barf” high schooler that walked awkwardly down the catwalk modeling her Western wear. Instead, I feel quite the opposite modeling my new Alvie’s Trinity Boots. Additionally, I had so much fun with this photo shoot (title photo), in the hands of talented photographer Gary Smith. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that all my old self-consciousness came up. Knowing you always need folks in your corner, I invited a personal cheerleader and fellow female entrepreneur, Katie Heiselberg of Katie Kismet, to be by my side, style me, and adorn me in some of her contemporary glass jewelry. (I’m wearing the heart bolo in this picture.) Ultimately, my nerves calmed, and I felt at ease in my own skin, my own clothes, my friend’s badass jewelry, and boots I believe in. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t end with this. You do not need to be a former cowgirl to rockthese boots. In fact, founder Alvie himself did not think he could “pull off” boots. And despite my sheep-showing, rodeo-queen background, Alvie’s boots are not just for a Western lifestyle. In fact, they go out of their way to say “Everyone belongs in Alvies. Cowboys. City girls. Accountants. Surfers. Texans. Techies. Brewmasters. Pitmasters. Mosh-pitters. Sports quiters. Athletes. Mathletes. Bachelorettes. Best men. Ballerinas. People with two left feet. People who still listen to Backstreet. Drummers. DJs. AJs. JJs. Jolenes. Marlenes. Mall Santas. Real Santa. Barkeeps. Baristas. Campers. Ranchers. Outlaws. In-laws. Movers. Shakers. Rodeo clowns. Class clowns. Nomads. Directors. Science-fiction fact checkers. Dog people. Cat people. People people. Librarians. Wanderers. Weirdos. And Dreamers. Whoever you are on the inside, you’re gonna look great with Alvies on the outside.”

With that, I hope you’re convinced to seek out a pair of Alvie’s. Better yet, throw a “Boot Party” as a fun activity so everyone can get a taste. And know that, with every pair purchased, you’re supporting a nonprofit organization and their mission. Personally, we’re on a mission to #DoGoodEatGood at Antonelli’s Cheese; at Alvie’s, you can do good by buying good boots.


Important Note: Unlike other product ambassador programs, Alvie’s Kickback Ambassadors do not receive payment for repping Alvie’s boots. I got a pair of each boot – which is more than enough – and the ability to talk about one of my favorite nonprofits. And I’ll take any extra opportunity to talk about mental health.

#alviesgivesback #alvieskickbackambassador #alvies #bootbrand #austintexas #antonelli #mentalhealthawareness #austinbolo #katiekismet

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