SAN ANTONIO - Paul Hedrick is Texan down to his soul – and his ostrich cowboy boots. He’s the face and force behind Tecovas, a direct-to-consumer western goods brand that’s taking the step from online to in-store sales.
On Friday, Hedrick opened his second Texas store at The Shops at La Cantera.
“The main reason we’re doing it is to reach customers where they want to reach us,” he said.
From the feel of the softly tanned calfskin to the names of the styles — such as Penny, Wyatt and Dillon — his business is personal.
“Dillon is an old family name. Also, an old dog of mine," he said.
Hedrick is Texas-born and raised, but his education took him to Harvard, where he studied math and economics.
“Now, I design and sell cowboy boots,” he said, with a laugh.
Hedrick began his professional life working in finance in New York and Connecticut.
“I was the guy who would show up at the office wearing my ostrich boots,” he said.
Those boots inspired his “ah-ha” moment. He wanted to get into consumer goods and thought boots would be the perfect fit. So, he quit his job and came home to Texas.
“I think like any good Texan kid and toddler, I had the red pair of cowboy boots I wore with shorts to the grocery store,” Hedrick said.
He launched Tecovas with a mission to make quality, comfortable boots that are affordable.
“The only way to do that was to cut out the big part of the system,” he said.
He cut out the middle man, set about finding skilled artisans in Leon, Mexico, to manufacture the boots, and began selling directly to consumers. At first, he sold out of the back of his old SUV at trunk shows and later, online.
“Some people didn’t think that would work, but I knew it would work," he said.
It worked. Within the first year, Hedrick’s startup had sold Tecovas to customers in every state in the U.S.
“I realized this business model afforded a few differences to traditional retail, the biggest being approachability and transparency,” he said.
He said he’s bringing that same philosophy to his brick-and-mortar stores. He opened the first one in Austin earlier this year, and in a sort of Texas two-step, added the San Antonio store.
More Texas stores are in the planning stage.
The majority of the boots sold, men’s and ladies’, are priced between $200 and $350. And you won’t find fancy-colored, blinged-out boots on his shelves. Instead, they are simple and classic.
“Approachable” is a word Hedrick uses often because he is focused on making his customers’ experience as comfortable as a pair of familiar boots.
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