STARTUPS

How an Austin cowboy bootmaker plans to use a new $1.8 million investment to grow

Posted October 13th, 2016

Paul Hedrick was working at a private equity firm in New York coaching entrepreneurs when he decided that he wanted to be one, too.

As a native of Dallas, he also had a history of wearing cowboy boots. After thinking about what he wanted to do next, he realized he could combine the two.

"Long story short, I decided to quit my job and start a boot business," Hedrick said. "I came to Austin because I love the city and thought it would be a great hub to build a boot brand. It's tech savvy, but it's also a cowboy boot town."

Last October, Hedrick launched Tecovas, a handmade western boot maker that sells directly to consumers on its website. Now the company has received its first outside investment.

Tecovas said on Thursday that it has raised $1.8 million from Blue Seed Collective and Brian Spaly, founder of e-commerce apparel company Bonobos.

The company will use the money to expand its inventory, its consumer reach and its team.

Tecovas boots are designed in Austin and crafted in Leon, Mexico, in one of the oldest bootmaking factories in the world by a team of artisans. Using a more than 200-step process, each boot is crafted using custom tanned leathers.

"We're really not revolutionizing how they're made, we're sort of going back to how they used to be made," Hedrick said. "We see it as restoring traditional quality to the western boot."

The boots cost $195 to $235 a pair, and the Tecovas generates more than 90 percent of its revenue from online sales. The company has a  showroom at 2514 E. Cesar Chavez St. that is open to the public on Saturday afternoons.

But Hedrick said he expects the web to continue to be its main sales platform.

"One of the advantages of being online is that it helps us keep our sales cycle very focused and allows us to reach a bigger market than a traditional retail store," he said.

Currently, aside from the workers in Mexico, Tecovas has just two employees, including Hedrick.

"Obviously, with only two full-time people right now, we're a little overwhelmed," he said. "This seed funding will let us build out our Tecovas team and bring beautiful cowboy boots to more consumers across the country."

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