Beccy Bromilow crafts shoes the old way; with care, by hand. She launched her Adelaide-based business, BB Shoemaker, two years ago. Each pair of her sustainable lace-up sandals, mule slides, loaf slippers, boots, and Gibson and Derby shoes takes around 20 hours and a whole lot of tools to make.
Creativity is in Bromilow’s blood. Her father is a sculptor and her grandmother was a costume designer and ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) teacher. “I first studied costume for production and worked on theatre and dance shows,” she says. “While studying, I tried my hand in millinery. Something about the sculpture process hooked me."
Inspired by working with structure, she went on to study shoemaking at TAFE SA and hasn’t looked back since. "Once I started I couldn’t seem to stop,” she says. “Knowing how something is put together, knowing how it’s constructed, it deepens your love for it.”
She operates out of Adelaide’s creative co-working space, The Mill, alongside tattoo studio XO L’Avant and the workspaces of choreographer Erin Fowler and artist Amber Cronin. It’s from here that she both crafts her shoes and runs her online shop.
When customers place an order, they’re invited to her studio to see how pieces are created and to choose what bespoke details they’d like. It’s a pleasingly tactile experience. “They feel like part of the process and I think that’s really special.”
Most of her shoes are crafted with vegetable-tanned kangaroo leather. The Australian influence continues with the product marketing. Bromilow shoots the shoes outdoors, against a backdrop of arid landscapes. The muted shades of the shoes are a happy side effect of the vegetable tanning process.
For now, footwear is the focus – aside from the odd tobacco pouch and belt – but Bromilow dreams of opening a shared store and studio space. “Success to me is being able to create every day and still survive,” she says. “There are always ups and downs; you’ve just got to push through to the rewarding times around the corner.”
Whatever the future holds, she’s adamant she’ll stay in Adelaide. “I feel very lucky to live in such an easygoing place,” she says. “There’s a great network of creatives here and the more that stay, the more it will grow.”
UPDATE 5/12/2017: BB Shoemaker now operates out of Ensemble.
All shoes are available online at BB Shoemaker.