Footwear from natural sheep’s wool


Article about us

It’s good for eyes to see, for soul to warm and for feet to wear!!!

Bashkortostan –is an unique region. During the crisis a great number of small-scale enterprises only grows in our republic, while in other regions - decreases almost by half. How do you think, what is a secret? In the opinion of Sergey Borisov - the President of the Public Organization of small and average-scale business "Support of Russia", it occurs because all conditions for starting business are created in Bashkortostan. All of us know that our State Support Programme of a small-scale business has came up to our expectations much faster, more than that the incidence and depth of the State help have appeared much more widely, than in other regions. We see that day by day decreases administrative power pressure and a number of checking instances, the republic management has a desire to develop business and firm aiming at result. It confirms also experience of "BASHVESTA" which nearly for two years acquaints readers with achievements of our businessmen. There are a great deal of them, and each has its special history and their own approach to business. Today we invited an amazing person, the master of felting business -Rasim Vahitov.
- It was 15 years ago. By then I have worked already as the art director (conducted entertaining parties), then as a restorer moreover rather successful, and I was not going to change something in my life. But I had dreams, in which I imagined that my three sons (they were 11-13 y.o) were occupied with male business, respected adults, strived to the best, and didn’t think about drinking beer with friends somewhere and loafed away their time. More than that an old idea to revive the craft of my father, who devoted himself to creation of felting footwear did not give rest to me.
- I didn,t think about fabulous profits that time, - Rasim says, - I remembered often about Demidov's who begin with small smithy in Tula and put a beginning of great known dynasty (later their descendants have founded the set of plants and have strengthened mining in Ural ) . I had no dream of foundation of numerous factories, but the thought to resemble to known blacksmiths attracted me very much. Certainly, my pre-history much restrained: very long time ago, about half a century ago, my parents worked in Artel – their salaries were very small, business then was not encouraged and so that to be engaged in favourite business he was bound to keep in secret his minishop with tools and shoetrees.

And here 15 years ago, having made a great deal of efforts, at last I managed to revive the business of my ancestors, and I start to produce felt boots - unusual, with beautiful shoetree and "shaggy" top. Such original felt boots were not manufactured in factories and shops. First all suited me, but... it was not so easy. First of all it was necessary to solve a problem of seasonal prevalence which strongly disturbed me. I did not know how. At first I has tried to reduce top height –there were semi-feltboots, then low shoes have turned out... And here at once, absolutely unexpectedly, new footwear has come to me in my dream! But they were not more feltboots, they were short house shoes (slippers). Here it was - a know-how! I was surprised and very grateful to destiny for such a gift.
Certainly, I’ve broken my brains to make a new footwear in that kind in which it exists now. At first it was more rough. Then gradually we have added some advantages of our product -the modelling form, “shaggy”, "fur" top, beautiful ornaments. Then the product has been patented. Here also it turned out that it was footwear "three in one": first, an excellent souvenir, secondly - medical footwear, thirdly - simply necessary thing at home! And almost at once our product began to use a great popularity.

-What is the medical effect of your slippers?
- Uniqueness of our "slippers" that they are made from "alive", ecologically non-polluting material - the sheep’s wool, without usage of dyes and chemicals, without boiling. We do not use sulfuric acid - substance which is traditionally applied as a fixer. As a result Lanolin containing in woollen fibres (natural animal wax) is not burnt, and the wool shows all its useful properties. Woollen lanolin possesses anti-dropsical, anti-inflammatory action, feeds and softens a skin, accelerates reclaiming processes, improves blood circulation... In general, continuous pluses and no minuses.
But there were problems with the name of a new product. In our imagination feltboots seems to be something rough. Therefore when people try to name our product as feltboots, I always correct them. We tried to name it differently but they are remained as "slippers".

- Tell, how do you sell your goods?
- We have a point with the prices from the manufacturer. Besides, we sell our slippers at the airports, hotels, various shops, and in other regions. Such towns as Bugulma, Ekaterinburg, Naberezhnye Chelny are with the great pleasure ready to take away surpluses of our production. However, usually it is realized inwardly in Republic. Certainly, it would be desirable to increase our volumes , but our manufacture - basically, manual, and it is very difficult to do it because of many reasons.

- Probably, personnel problems?

- You are right. With employees not all is so smooth, as it would be desirable. There are no ready personnel now, and I should train people "from zero". Not everyone has enough patience to become the master - therefore our manufacture becomes isolated in very narrow circle of those who has had patience and has trained to carry out qualitatively one of necessary operations (creation of freetree, dry machining, rolling, design). Now we have ten persons in staff, including sellers. But from the beginning and up to the end technology know only I and my sons. Though it is not so simple with them! They are young, and for the present not up to the end understand, what for all it is necessary. Probably, if they consciously, understanding that we are unique owners of the patent , actually, monopolists, that the market economy is difficult because of competition and that what we would possess, - is invaluable. But, probably, it’s not a time.

- With what else problems do you meet face to face?
- There are certain difficulties with raw materials. Actually, it is one of main points. I have spent many years for training purveyors of the sheep’s wool, but the result leaves much to be desired. For example, the colour of our product is reached by mixing black and white wool, and the proportion of this mix needs to be maintained very accurately. But each season I face to the problem that the raw materials do not correspond to my expectations! And after all if the wool is "wrong" it can turn out so that one slipper there will be dark, and another light, or they will be too dark, or on the contrary. And quality of a wool should be excellent - without dust, sawdust and to that similar. Purveyors do not have not enough patience to select scrupulously this clean, qualitative wool which I demand. And it is the big problem. In general, a situation with conversion is very depressing - though at us in Bashkiria a livestock of sheep is big, felting manufacture almost that is «on zero». Many felt factories and industrial complexes were closed.

- How often do you participate in exhibitions?
- We visit exhibitions very often! And if earlier we were only participants, wanted as it is called, " to show ourselves " now it is not required. Having seen how visitors react to our products, organizers themselves invite us. We are welcome guests at any exhibitions, forums, assemblies, festivals, without dependence from their subjects Certainly, we do not become presumptuous, and we try to justify this trust. And in general, it would be desirable very much to develop our business, because at present our goods uses huge popularity. In the nearest plans we are going to create beautiful and qualitative ornaments from a leather. Already now for dressing we use a band, pastes, even rivets, but it would be desirable something more solid.

- How do you think, what is the secret of your success?
- To give a great attention to quality. Not to deviate the conceived drawing. There are a lot of operations, and if everyone at the stage commits an error – what it will turn out? Here we will add, here we will overlook, there we will leave unfinished. And there will be no a beautiful. You think - why our product so attracts an eye of foreigners? The matter is that when the product is finished "to standard" - it should not attracts with its equal beautiful forms. Not casually our product is bought on gifts by foreign visitors and uses special demand at Americans, Italians, Israelis. German engineers once even came to my house - so it was curious to them to look at the author of well-known "slippers".These people really know what is quality!
Well, continuity in business when children, becoming adults, continue business of their fathers and grandfathers, and it is really fine. And as it is pleasant for hearing - Ford’s dynasty, Demidov's dynasty, Vahitov’s. dynasty. Anybody would be not against to write the surname after a word a dynasty! So that to reach it, considerable efforts are necessary, you see. And, perhaps, our guest – is one of the people, who was on success.

Darya Svjatohina.

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