Making DTC western wear work with Paul Hedrick from Tecovas

It probably won't shock you that cowboy Boots aren't typically bought or sold Online so where is the modern cowboy Supposed to shop this week we're talking To a Founder who carved out a DTC market For Western [Music] Wear you're listening to found Tech Crunches podcast that brings you the Stories behind the startups and today We're talking to Paul Hedrick from Takova a western word brand sold Directly to Consumers and also in their Brick and morar stores I'm Becca scac And here with me is my very fashionable Co-host do Midori Davis and of course Before we get into our conversation with Paul we have our two truths in a lie and So at the end we'll tell you which one Of these statements just isn't true so Which one of these statements is simply Not true is it that Paul was rejected From business school that most cowboy Boots are made in California or that the Company was already profitable in their Early years oo listeners you'll have to Keep going through the episode to find Out but before we get to the Conversation with Paul if you wouldn't Mind rating and reviewing the show you Can do so wherever you are already Listening to this episode so it's super Easy peasy and we would really Appreciate it but without further Ado

Here's our conversation with [Music] Paul hey Paul how's it going it's going Great how are y'all hanging in there Can't complain thanks for coming on the Show of course thanks for having me and Before we dive too far into this the Most important question I'm going to ask You the whole podcast right up front how Many pairs of boots do you Own I think I just counted and I had 80 Pairs and in my closet I have a special Boot closet just for boots although I Think I just got rid of about 30 uh Finally did some spring cleaning to make Room for uh 2024 and 2025 Styles and Gave some away perfect well speaking of Boots why don't you tell us a little bit About Tas yeah of course so Tas we are a Western brand we're based in Austin Texas we're in our ninth year so still In the single digits here we designed Make and sell directly to customers what I would consider to be the best quality Most comfortable stylish cowboy boots on The market and we also sell some pretty Amazing Western apparel and accessories And I got to know I mean you're in Texas So I can kind of Imagine at least part Of the backstory but what made you want To launch this company from the Beginning yeah I was actually in New York when I thought of the business idea So I'm born and raised Texan I was born

In Houston went raised in Dallas Started my career in Consulting and then My second stop was at a private Equity Firm that focused in consumer and Retail And that was really the beginning of my I think career orientation I really love Brands I love retail I love Hospitality I thought I might want to get into Restaurants or hotels I can get back to That later but um at this firm I applied To business school like a lot of my Colleagues post MBA school I got Rejected from from the only two schools I applied to and I was left in a Lurch And about 10 years ago this spring and It was a little bit of a come to Jesus Moment for me I had been just kind of Working my butt off getting the jobs I Thought that I wanted and I you got into Couple my dream jobs and it wasn't until That moment that I thought about Becoming an entrepreneur and I got to That decision by doing some Self-reflection really I realized I was A lot more risk tolerant than most of my Colleagues and friends and I realized I Also had this creative side that I Really had thought I would make into my Career when I was younger when I was a Kid I wanted to be an artist or a Cartoonist and later a architect and I Hadn't really Flex my right brain in a Long time and it was the combination of Those factors and thinking about the

Skills I had gotten in you know four or So years out of college it was pretty Naive thought it was enough to be enough To jump off the ledge and and then I Started thinking about ideas yes and I Had been wearing cowboy boots to the Office pretty much every day by that Point in my second year did you wear it With a Patagonia vest to the private Equity office Or uh I actually don't think I had a Patagonia vest ironically but I was Living in Manhattan Community Greenwich Connecticut and so yeah it was Definitely a little out of place wearing Boots but I was proud of my Tex andness And wanted to stand out yeah so Basically I started digging into that Industry and man I fell down a rabbit Hole I fell in love with the products I Was already into them you know as a Consumer but I wasn't you know an Enthusiast by any means but I knew Enough about the industry to be a little Dangerous and then we I started digging Into it luckily I was able to find some More information about the industry and It was way bigger than I thought it was I thought it was maybe you know hundred $200 million do with the boots sold in The US it turns out the number was close To three or 4 billion and more Importantly there was a gap in the Market so there was a brand Gap and for

Me it was a significant brand Gap it was Twofold there wasn't a brand that was Making high quality stylish comfortable Boots that didn't cost a whole paycheck And there wasn't anyone thinking about Changing the way the consumers bought Boots and that was the combination that I kind of went for and decided to start The first direct to Consumer cowboy boot Brand and selling them exclusively over The internet but also more importantly The product itself was filling a pretty Big gap in the category in my opin So was was the market like there were These kind of big Legacy players who had Been there forever or there were newer People as well or like how big was the Gap yeah mostly older Heritage players I Mean as you can imagine it's cowboy Boots it was a little bit of a a Dusty Category it was pretty behind the times In terms of marketplace adoption I had Done some research into e-commerce Penetration for different categories and You know the percentage of cowboy boots That were sold online was in the mid Single digits whereas Footwear overall Was in the High Teens so there was like A double digit Point Gap you know in Penetration by the way this is back when E-commerce was only about 20% of retail Sales overall so that was a pretty big Distinction and then on the brand front There was a a bunch of brands that were

Founded a 100 plus years ago and they Kind of acted as such some of them were Really great you know they made great Products not going to lie but the ones That I really liked were Even more than I would want to pay Making pretty good money and then the Rest of them felt not like me at all you Know there was a lot of you know lower Priced boots that were pretty clunky and Luggy and fit more into you know maybe a Construction environment and not Necessarily wearing a nice pair of jeans And going to a concert going to a date You know wearing to a board meeting so That was really the Gap in my opinion no That's so interesting and I'm curious Because when you think about launching Something like that where it's like okay There are these Legacy players Especially thinking about Texas I Imagine there's sort of a culture around Products like this in western wear and What was it like taking the idea and Actually turning it into a business what Feedback did you get I'm just curious if Anyone was like mean to you about it Like any like rough and tough about like The legacy of the western wear the Legacy of the cowboy boots like what was It like actually getting this off the Ground once you had the idea yeah there Was a lot of push back among people that Knew me well I had a lot of support from

My friends and family of course who knew That it was in my heart that I wanted to Go you know risk it all and create Something out of nothing which got me Really excited obviously and so but There were still a lot of people who Said wait you're quitting your job in Private Equity to start a cowboy boot Store in Texas you know because I I Actually moved to Austin in summer 2014 Right after I quit and like yes Technically but there's a little bit More to the story and I had a lot of People tell me to avoid the Footwear Industry it's a really challenging Industry it's really skew intensive Because of all the sizing it's really Hard to figure out how to manufacture How to design so yeah there was some Pretty big barriers on the general Business side but what I discovered was That basically all the boots that I Really liked that like the way they were Made and there turned out to be one Place in the world that everyone was Going to make this product in Mexico so That kind of solved one sourcing problem Hey I just got to go there and convince Someone to work with me which was no Small feat but at least it was simple Then essentially because of the birth of Shopify a few years earlier I could Theoretically get this whole thing off The ground with pretty minimal capital

Expenditure and have National reach on Day one although of course I learned how Hard it was to actually Reach people It's not free but yeah so the business Pieces were actually I'm not going to Say they were easy but you know it was It was a pretty easy list to make of all The tasks so I flew down to Mexico you Know luckily I spoke Spanish I came down With some drawings and a PowerPoint Presentation that I don't think I ever Opened trying to convince a couple Factories to work with me and you know I Was going to these these really renowned Artisan factories who've been making for All the most famous brands in the Category and even some you know non- Cowboy boot brands that were really High-end and most of them told me no one Of them told me yes and yeah basically Spent the next six months developing Product with them designing it from Scratch and ended up launching in October 2015 to the world with a little Shopify site Tas I couldn't Even get the URL at the time It wasn't available so it was off and Running by Fall 2015 and before we move On I have to know because I'm I'm always So fascinated to learn about these pubs That you're describing where it's like Oh well if you're launching a company in X like you have to go to this one random Town and like that's where everyone does

It what is the town of Mexico like yeah It's called Leon uh it's in the state of Guan which is right in the middle of the Country you can if you're like balancing Mexico on your finger it be right about There it's beautiful you know it reminds Me of I'd say Inland Southern California So Rolling Hills really temperate the Town itself is definitely a a Manufacturing focused Town there's some Car factories and some industrial Factories in addition to what really Made it famous though was leather it had Been one of the basically the leading Leather tanning capital of the Western Hemisphere since the early 1900s and out Of that kind of grew the cottage Industry of shoe making you know it was Definitely the Mexican shoe making Hub And then as us manufacturing and Sho Making started to shift overseas it Became really the North American shoem Making Hub so a lot of history a lot of These you know the factory that we ended Up working with most of the last decade The most volume with you know I've been Around for 80 plus years I forget how Many generations they're on right now And actually the son of the guy that I've been working with for eight or nine Years it's now being trained to take Over with the business so it's pretty Cool to see very family oriented uh very Craft oriented very human oriented and

So you know there's Machinery of course That you need to do welting and and Putting different parts of the shoe Together in a way that that makes it Secure but basically every step is every Piece of the boot has been put together By someone's hand there's probably a Hundred people doing an aggregate of 200 Steps to make each pair of cowboy boots And cuz you were talking about how some Of the Legacy cowboy boot come ianes Were pretty high in price point so how Do you go about making kind of a more Affordable still high quality cowboy Boot CU I assume because this is a lot Of effort and work to make the boots so How do you still hit that you know good Price point well the main thing we did Was this du wholesale at first so we Were able to we were paying relatively High prices being so small and our Orders you know not having a lot of Buying power so just being direct Allowed us to have you know what we'd Call A full Keystone of margin which was Enough I think to get the brand off the Ground over time of course we've been Able to you know we're a larger player There now and we've been able to get Better pricing to allow for a multi- Channel retail strategy but I mean the Truth is it was a little it was a little Naive to be able to I basic my strategy Was let's let's put all of the cost into

The product that we could possibly have Because I wanted the boots to be better Than anyone else's and then let's just See if we can make money at X price and We have raised our price a little bit Over time although I I think we've Barely kept up with inflation if even And essentially what's happened is we've Realized like we can work around it we Can offer pretty fair value we don't Have to just assume that there's a Keystone for that person a keystone for That person a keystone for that person We don't work with Distributors today We're still not working with any Wholesale accounts and effectively some Of the higher price Players just have a Lot of extra padding in there and to the Other point I'd make is the higher price Players that I thought were Really big actually some of them weren't Weren't really selling that many boots And so we ended up actually becoming you Know essentially the biggest you know Premium player in the category and I Also wanted to ask you about early days Of marketing because it seems like Cowboy is having a moment right now with Yellowstone and of course Beyonce um but How was it like in the early days in Terms of marketing and did you use Influencers did you not how did you go About that yeah so maybe a couple Comments as it relates to Trend the

Thing I love about this category and Really Western in general our mission Statement is to Steward the next Generation of Western and you know every One of those words is chosen pretty Carefully Steward meeting because we Think it's important that we treat it You know with respect because the great Parts of Western culture and cowboy Culture are worth carrying forward Meaning that the shared values of you Know say Integrity authenticity Trailblazing welcoming around the Campfire like all of those values were Really what we thought about so that's One point second point would be the the Trends it's funny because I was able to Be if being from Texas and then working On the coast I went to school in the Northeast I worked in New York I was Able to see how kind of people on the Coast thought about the universe and how You know I experienced the universe and It was pretty different and I think long Story short most people on the coast Dramatically underestimated the culture And the buying power of you know maybe The rest of America and although there Wasn't a lot of cowboy boots being sold In New York or Boston or LA or SF it's Always been a huge category pretty much Everywhere else and so I never wanted Tas to be a trendy brand I wanted it to Be the brand that was going to last for

Decades that was going to be the the Category leader the Challenger brand That that took the Reigns and again Stewarded that next Generation that said Because of how we approached it from a Values perspective and we were always Very determined not to stay in that old Dusty Universe of sort of gatekeeping And there was definitely a little bit of An attitude among some people who wore Boots every day who grew up wearing Boots culturally who needed them for Work for example who would say hey you Can't wear cowboy boots if you're not a Cowboy if you don't need him for work or If you're not from here and we always Took the attitude that that wasn't the Case at all I truly believe that almost Anyone who put on a pair of lease R Boots would actually really love wearing Them and feel cool and confident a Little taller have a little Swagger feel Stylish and I just thought that was Universal desire that a lot of people Would want to scratch and so the recent Trends have been interesting it Definitely has bled into pop culture More than we ever thought it would but This has happened before this happened In the late 80s with Urban Cowboy it Happened in the90s with the dramatic Popularity of '90s country music G and Shia coming out of that era it happened In the early 2010s with country music

Really taking mainstream and becoming Since then it's been the you know number One most favorite music genre in the Country pickup trucks have been the Number one selling car in the US for Decades it's always been there it's just Funny that you know people now notice it And then people finally think it's Appropriate to make it widespread I Would equate it to maybe ivy league Style being converted into Global prep Style by you know Ralph Lauren and Tommy In the in the 90s and really that's how We think about it I think I got a little Off track on the question but I really Wanted to talk about the trends I can Talk about we did in the early days cuz It is it is I guess interesting no I'm Glad you hit on that cuz I was also Going to ask about the trends but yeah So I guess with all of that being said So the early days of marketing were Easy uh no they were Not they were very Scrappy in the first Couple years oh my gosh I mean I had a I Had sold everything that I owned Basically I I cashed out my 401k you Know paid that massive tax penalty that You really don't want to pay if you cash That out early not that it was all that Much money it was I was 26 when I did it And you know I got into a bunch of Credit card debt so I had actually I Bought an old Forerunner and that became

My little Mobile sales vehicle and I Would go to farmers markets I basically Promised myself and then my first hire I Made Brandon he and I when he joined in In December 2015 we said Hey listen man We got to pay the rent with physical Sales I know we're doing this online Thing but we do not have enough money to Test anything real online unless we're Actually paying the rent was a physical Sales so we went to farmers markets we Went to my Elementary School in Dallas Did a road trip there sold 20 pairs of Boots there sold five here sold 10 there And that was really valuable because we Ended up getting a lot of inperson Experience we kind of learned how to Sell in person we realized that this is The type of product that people really Want to buy an experience in person but We got a lot of customer feedback and We're able to iterate really quickly so We had product Market fit early and as Far as scaling Revenue I mean honestly The only thing that really worked for us In the first couple years was social Advertising now it's obviously that you Know not the strategy that you want to Have is your only strategy but back then There really wasn't anyone else bidding On cowboy boot terms you know on Facebook and Google at scale and so we Were able to pretty efficiently grow we Were doing you know over 10 million in

Revenue our second year just purely Through Performance Marketing obviously We had a lot of word of mouth too but as Far as like the actual grow scale there Was no way we could have gotten all Those customers without doing some paid Media and we were Break Even from day One you never really lost money because That was our mission we kept the team Super small we had a Little not very nice office on the east Side of Austin and uh you know we Focused on where the money was made we Always were really really sales focused Because we knew we had we knew we had me Who cared about the product and I was Not going to let anything get to the Market and get on the customer's foot That wasn't in my opinion amazing and so We could focus all of the team's energy On selling More from this conversation right after A quick Break some of the points you brought up Already made me want to ask you about How you think your career prior to this Working in private Equity especially Working in private equity on the Consumer side has influenced your Decisions as youve built the company or How you have decided to approach Different things and yeah I'm just Curious like what do you think you were Able to bring from that private Equity

Career that has been able to help you as You have grown the company yeah I mean At this point I've I've worked more than Twice as long at Tas as I did in my Entire previous career combined but I Did feel well equipped to be honest and I think that's because I had like many Entrepreneurs a Overconfidence but uh the actual skills So I worked at at McKenzie and Company Out of college and then I worked at this Firm on consumer brand that really we Owned we bought and sold consumer Brands And and restaurants and retailers and at McKenzie had focused on operations and Costing and Logistics basically and then Later that second job I had focused on Commercial strategies so marketing Pricing brand sales and so I kind of Felt like I had gotten a four-year MBA And I had all the different I kind of Knew what the different parts of the Business were the different functions in The business I was able to use my Consulting and problem solving skill set To break down what may have looked like A challenging problem into a few steps Discretly like I mentioned before and Then I also learned you can you know There's a lot of ways to skin the cat in Terms of growing and scaling and funding The business and I think if there's one Thing I took away is that I was Comfortable with raising capital and

Even though you know there's a lot of Ways to grow the company I didn't you Know I bootstrapped it until launch and Then I realized like hey we can grow a Lot faster if we put more working Capital in the balance sheet so pretty Much every year we raise a little bit of Private investor Equity Capital as well And maybe we would have been better off Not doing that we may have been smaller But I actually think we did it at the Right time and we feel really good and We're going to give our investors a Great return yeah I definitely wanted to Ask you about the funding piece too and The trends here have changed since you Guys started the company but with you Guys being based technically like out of The quote unquote listeners I'm doing Air quotes startup hubs being in Austin The popularity of Austin as a startup Hub has kind of come and gone and had Sort of a roller coaster a couple of Years but what was it like actually Going out to fundraise for this I know D Toc definitely some investors just don't Like that category at all and then it's Like you are coming into a category Where people could point to other brands Making boots as well like what was it Like actually getting investors on board Yeah so we are a d Toc brand obviously That three-letter Word seems to be almost derogatory these

Days it's to me DC just means that's What's one part of your Marketplace Strategy and today it technically is our Whole Marketplace strategy because we're Still just sold on and our You know we've got 32 retail stores Although we might have a few more than That by the time this recording gets uh Released but raising money was Challenging because in 2016 2017 that period of time a lot of Brands Were getting investment but there were Brands that you know kind of again these Coastal based firms were investing in Most of the firms were investing in sort Of these Millennial Coastal focused Brands and I think everyone thought that I was doing something Niche that we were Doing something Niche and I was really Only able to attract angels I couldn't Really get any institutional investors To invest in the first few years it Wasn't until we got pretty serious Revenue traction and we were on track to Do 30 or 40 million in our third year in Business that we finally got people Knocking on the door and so we had about Two or three years where we were able to Meet the people that were still Investing in in DC and we had enough Traction to be interesting and then Basically Co hit and people lost Interest in that so we had we hit our

Window to get capital I think and so I Feel I guess fortunate around timing but At the same time you know we were Executing really well and we've used the Capital really efficiently and unlike a Lot of the D Toc brands that are sort of Poster child for either raising too much Capital and not doing well or not Raising capital and doing well you know We're kind of the people that straddled It you know we were able to you know Bring investors on the cap table who Really believed in our long-term Vision But also we were always you know we were Never getting over our skis too much we Were always raising rounds at prices That I felt were fair and that we would Be growing in a price value quite a bit You know even just in a year you know After that round and so you know I think We took our company values of being high Integrity and humble and but also Trailblazing ambitious and combine those I think into do a winning formula that's So interesting to hear you talk about The funding in that way because I like The way you put it of just we like snuck In right before like the window on D to See like closed because I feel like like There are a lot of companies that would Fit into that kind of a bucket from Other categories but I haven't heard it Put that way I like that I do want to Ask you cuz I know you mentioned a

Little bit earlier your journey of Realizing that you did in fact want to Start a company and what that moment was Like for you but we've talked a lot About building the company but what has It been like getting toov where it is Now for you personally as someone based On your past career history obviously You were moving in the private Equity Track which is a very different Profession than starting a company of Your own so what is it been like Personally running this company well man It's been the greatest gift I have to Say I'm very grateful for everything That's happened I'm grateful to my past Self for having for turning a rejection Into an opportunity but more importantly I'm grateful for all the people who've Joined and the people who believed in You know the product and who we have a Lot of really fervent supporters you Know we always wanted our customers to Be extremely customer-led business and You know that kind of came out of some Of my instincts around hospitality you Know I just realized hey if we just make This place an amazing place to work and An amazing retailer to experience as a Consumer that only makes amazing Products like it's kind of hard to screw It up but I think that those things will Get will get us past a lot of challenges I mean they really did for me personally

I think like most founder CEOs although Now I'm our executive chairman in my CEO Journey you know the most rewarding part Of it was definitely the part that I Probably was the least excited about Which was building team and learning how To hire people and fire people and Coach People and manage people I'd never even Managed a single person before starting The company so I basically had all of my Training wheels all the way through you Know racing cars in the big leagues or Whatever through the course of five Seven years at toova so that was really Rewarding and I'd say the other thing is It made me realize that you know just Because you're on a path doesn't mean That that feels you know commercially What the outside world would say is Successful you know like a lot of people Thought I was doing a weird Zig or a Weird zag when I was quitting you know It doesn't mean you can't follow your Heart and for me my heart was more in The creative side it was in the product Building side I wanted to be a maker I Wanted to be a Creator I wanted to make Experiences and products and I cared a Little less about what I think a lot of Other people in my shoes might have Cared about and I I'm glad I listen to Those instincts and I know since you Have stepped into the executive chairman Role we definitely wanted to ask ask you

About that how did you know it was time To make that transition what went into That decision yeah I mean it's obviously A hard decision to work through you know When you create something like this it's Your DNA it's your baby it's something That's with you forever I have it Tattooed on my body love that you know The actual origin of that decision for Me came a few years prior when I Realized you know I never really had Like a a partner who could you know Really share the burden at the top of The company I never had a COO or a President figure so a lot of what I was Doing day-to-day was I think as every Year went by and the company got bigger And we went from you know 10 people 30 People 70 people 100 plus people at Corporate it felt like more and more of My day was more about operations process People and the less of it was about Brand creative strategy all the things That I really enjoyed doing and I Realized that you could be a CEO that Had a really amazing like number two President coo typ who could take on a Lot of the company's day-to-day business Or you could hire a CEO to basically run The company day-to-day and for a variety Of reasons mostly because I saw how big The future was of takova you know we had By the time David now our CEO was Offered the job that we were doing

Almost 150 million in Revenue we'd seen This path to get to 500 and beyond that To a billion obviously over a longer Period of time I just realized like I Didn't need to be defined by that role I Didn't view myself as someone who woke Up saying hey I'm a CEO I viewed myself As more flexible you know I'm the Founder I can call myself something else And still get a lot of joy out of my day Have a huge impact you know be the Largest shareholder coach someone new And so by making that decision I decided To flip that switch and convince the Board to do so which I'm very happy for Their support and we were able to Because it was that title and not a Different title we were able to bring on Someone amazing who could actually Really handle this company at scale and Who could see the vision along with me And we ended up hiring a guy who I'd met Oh I guess I'd met him 3 years prior now It's been five he was the COO at Deckers Which is the parent company that owns You know Hoka and Ugg and so he'd seen Hoka go from 20 million to a billion in Revenue basically running the day-to-day Operations of the shared services Component of that massive Corporation And had so much wisdom I had so much Affability and he and I got along so Well I just knew I could trust him and You know I mean I don't think it would

Have happened if I hadn't met him you Know there may have been a few other Ways the chips could have fallen but Really glad it worked out and thinking About your early days as a CEO coming From McKenzie and the world of Consulting what were some of those early Days like cuz I imagine that is kind of An Abrupt transition in terms of Managing people and hiring what were Some of the lessons you learned maybe From like did you learn who not to hire Or you know did you learn like about Some leadership qualities that you have And stuff what were those early like Yeah good question I learned a lot I Felt like every day was a fire hose and I felt like many days I was failing for Sure you know I I tried to hold myself To a high bar which usually meant Judging myself pretty hardcore every day Because it's hard to be performing at a High bar when you've never done that Before and you don't have someone kind Of helping you on the ground necessarily I'd say a big change was realizing that The people who work at some of these Sort of Blue Chip Consulting investing Firms they're all really similar Personalities and when you're building a Business like this you end up hiring a Pretty wide variety of personalities I Don't mean lower caliber people by any Means I just mean lots of different

Types of functional jobs I mean Basically everyone at the two companies I worked for previously had the same job They were just kind of advancing and Getting better and better and better at It there's no there's not a really a lot Of functional exposure there's not you Know at a company that's 10 people all 10 people might be working on a totally Different function or or job at at a Smaller business so that was a really Different Dynamic I don't know if I have A key learning from that other than just Recognizing that I had to get really Good at managing really different types Of people at the same time of learning How to manage someone just in general Which was hard you know had to learn how To hire and fire I'd say an early lesson On that front was higher slow and Fire Fast it's a little trite you know it's Annoying to hear maybe from someone Who's been in that seat if you haven't Been but it's one of those things I've Talked to other CEOs I don't think I've Ever met a single person who regretted Firing someone I've met a lot of people Who regretted hiring people and uh it Just shows how important those decisions Are up front and investing in that Culture another thing I took from my Previous job which was in comfortable But I knew it would help us grow was I Wanted a feedback oriented culture from

Day one I'd met a lot of people working At startups who just generally had no Idea what was going on I had no idea how Well they were doing I had no idea what Their manager thought of them and had no Idea what the company's strategy was and I just wanted us to have a really Different culture from day one and so I You know McKenzie had a really feedback Oriented culture culture like Uncomfortably so for me it was a lot you Know you basically get feedback every Two to four weeks from someone and There's usually a lot of constructive Stuff get a bunch of type A people who Want to get this thing rolling so I Probably wasn't probably overly Constructed but we also just gave each Other a lot of good feedback early on And people grew so much I think and I Wanted everyone on the ship to feel like They were part you know they had a key Role in the ship it was a lot easier When we were smaller but you know Everyone was part of the strategy Meeting we had a weekly All Hands Meeting all the way up to you know a Couple years ago when we moved it to a Monthly just because it was like way way Too many people meeting every week and Like all right not a lot to changed Since last week maybe we should not do This every week but early on it was Everything was changing every week so it

Was super helpful to meet weekly so Those are the couple things I I could Think of and I actually had two very Random questions that they don't fit Anywhere so I'm just going to ask them Here one is it stereotypical to assume That Texas is like the biggest cowboy Shoe market or is there like another State or something Texas is definitely The Lar just market for cowboy boots but It's not that much bigger than say California New York or Florida they're Pretty much index towards population With Texas having definitely an over Index I mean the rule of thumb is that There are cowboy boots being sold Everywhere if you just go outside the City so if you live in Boston if you Live in Detroit if you live in Chicago If you just drive half an hour basically In any direction you'll see cowboy boots In the store no matter where you are so It's a pretty amazing phenomen actually So yeah New York's a big Market Pennsylvania is a big market for boots Those are two big States Michigan Ohio Yeah all big markets over there my last Question was just personal are these Sold in like vegan leather too no we Haven't you know we're really focused on Quality and our whole approach to Sustainability is let's use leather from The you know primarily from the food Supply chain and let's make boots and

Products that really last and stay out Of the landfill we we really believe Strongly in that and feel good about it There are basically no vegan Leathers That I know of that either aren't filled With petrochemicals which are bad for The environment and break down very Easily or are made of some of the new New leather developments that we're Keeping our eye very closely on but none Of the newer leather developments that We've been able to find perform at even Close to the level that cow leather Performs at for better for worse oh That's really interesting that's Interesting yeah so quality is the Pillar we care more about quality and Long- Lasting product than we do you Know about experimenting at the expense Of the consumer right now but man we we I'd love to have some more options I Mean we like experimenting or Trailblazing no yeah though this is Actually good to know there's like a lot Of plastic the vegan leather stuff and It just like falls apart and I'm like This is supposed to be the quote unquote Sustainable option and it's falling Apart in a day it's just yeah would you Rather have in the landfill or you know Would you rather have some leather That's already being created anyway and It's going to last and stay out of the Landfill oh makes a lot of sense no and

I know we're almost right about at time So just one last question to sort of Wrap things up you guys have made so Much progress now and I know you Mentioned you're not in your double Digit Years yet but you're almost there What is in store for the future for you Guys how do you think about the next few Years well we keep going back to our Mission you know it's that next Generation of Western how can we Continue to make an impact on the Category you know I think we made a Pretty big impact on the category by Making our core product line really Great we've got a lot of room to run on That front I think the short answer to Your question is we're going to be Growing a lot doing more of the same you Know we're opening amazing retail stores We have 32 of them today you know I Think we're opening 10 plus this year so You'll see a lot more so I'd say for More people than not you'll actually get A toova store coming near you pretty Soon in the next few years so that'll be Exciting and you'll see US expand our Tent a little bit we've really made our Mark with boots but we're really just Getting started on some of our other Product lines to fill the shelves and You know really introduce people to the World of toas and a lot more shirts and Jeans flying off the shelf than there

Were a few years ago and a lot more Cowboy hats or cowboy hat business is Going strong so yeah I'd say a lots to Come I'd say if I had to pick one thing That would be new it's we're going to be More focused on Innovation moving Forward a lot of what we did early on The Innovation came in the model and in The service and in the culture you mean Our values and how we delivered it the Experience for the customer and they're A little bit more intangible now we can Put our trailblazing hat on we've got a A few brand pillars authentic Trailblazing and welcoming and I think Our trailblazing hat was very much Focused on being D Toc and being really Good customer service opening these Stores and being courageous on that Front and now it's going to flow into The product as well so more to come Thank you so much Paul this was fun well Thanks y' those was are great questions I enjoyed [Music] It and that was our conversation with Paul Dom what was the lie that most cway Boots are Made in California I think They're made in Mexico right yeah I Think that stuff is so interesting when You get into these kinds of not Niche Industry cuz cowboy boots are like not The most Niche thing out there but They're definitely more Niche than like

The world of sneakers but like finding Out that there's like literally one Place where everyone goes to get stuff Manufactured is I just always find that Super interesting I don't know I think Supply scene is super interesting I know It's kind of funny too like they all go To this one city in Mexico to get like The best leather ever so that they can Make these boots I actually love that I Don't know why I just I just love how Like everyone knows like this is the Plug and this is where we go and it's Proba been like like he said since the Early 1900s or something this is just How things are done and I like the Traditional the history behind all of That for sure yeah because it's like in Theory if you're coming in as a new Brand and you want to do things Differently like maybe you'd think to Try working with someone else or try you Know not doing what all the traditional Brands are but I think the fact that They did that side note would definitely Like watch a documentary about this town But it kind of leans into what I think Takova is trying to do in the sense of Being like hey like we know people want This product but we're making it Accessible in a different way a little Bit less of a price point so I feel like Going back to the tradition like speaks Very much to Paul and kind of like what

They were trying to do yeah because Cowboy boots are a really really big Thing I mean I'm from the south so I've Always known that it feels like they're Having like a massive thing on social Media now but I guess like he said Cowboy boots have always been a thing Maybe have just been in the city for too Long I know yeah we're talking before we Recorded this that the one friend I have That has toova lives in the city but is From Texas uh so definitely a little More tuned into that space than I am Although I feel like all the girlies are Wearing cowboy boots now like at their y 2K wear andu like that I know and it's Interesting because I look at them and I'm still like maybe it is growing up in The South where I'm just like I still Wouldn't I wouldn't know I'm not going To wear that I see everyone was wearing It to like the Taylor Swift concerts and I was like hm I still don't know time And place maybe but I don't know but That's that's just cuz it's like never Been really my style but cow PS are cute They're cute I might get them for Cowboy Carter for Beyonce yeah if I can get Tickets I hope she doesn't tour this Year please don't we're in a recession But it was an interesting market for him To enter too if you think about creating Like a DCC brand in fashion it was Pretty brilliant to kind of see cowboy

Boots as this large underappreciated Market that it was for sure because I Know for myself I've always thought About getting a pair of boots and I have Literally always said like Yeah well my Friend lives in Texas when I go down to Visitor maybe I'll buy them then or like Maybe when I'm in Denver I'll buy them There like I've never even thought of Buying them online so him being like There just wasn't a place to do so and That's why you didn't think of it like That as like well yeah I guess I can Relate to that personally cuz I have Thought about buying a pair for years And truly did not ever even once Consider doing it online yeah I know I Never thought about how you got cowboy Boots like you just when I saw someone Wearing them like I you just wear them Like you just appear with them on one Day I have no idea the logistics behind Getting boots which so I guess it makes Sense like yeah you would want these Online I would like to see some like Secession styled Dev Weare Prada drama Behind this DTC entering into an Industry where it's like traditional Legacy boot makers and the fight to Dominate the boot Market I'm creating an Atrio show in my head right now because I think that the appetite is there to Watch something like this yeah I'm Picturing like a classic cowboy standoff

At Dawn or at sunset or something like Guns blazing but like this company was So interesting for so many ways because We've been having a lot of DC companies On the show recently and one thing about Them that stood out was his approach of Being like yeah we're launching a DDC Company and of course now they're in Retail too but he was like you can't Launch a DDC company without physical Sales which I had never heard of a DDC Company saying so it was like Interesting to him to be like well yeah Acquiring customer online is expensive And like well we think that's like what We're trying to do it's like you need to Start getting sales now like you need to Get money in the door before you are Able to kind of like tackle this like More expensive customer acquisition so The fact that they started by doing Physical sales despite the D Toc hope And approach and things like that is Just really interesting I mean tough Market I imagine but I'm actually glad That they kind of took a different Approach in terms of understanding what They needed to do as a business in order To make it and that there isn't this one Playbook for DTC Brands because it does Make sense to have like physical sales First for a company like this I think Yeah I mean D's had a very interesting Period for the last decade of ups and

Downs and I feel like shoes is one of Those aspects too where it's like okay I Know there's a couple shoe brands Personally where it's like I bought Shoes either in person or I did buy them Online and was successful with it and Then have realized that's like oh this Is my size now I can buy them online so It's like I feel like this like the Perfect application for that oh we want To be a DDC brand meeting some people From the beginning like people can try Stuff on and then be like oh well if my Boots were out or oh I want to get Another pair it's like they another size I could just hop online and buy them Yeah which I feel like is why shoe Shopping it was like I don't to say it Was not what people did online first but I feel like I didn't buy shoes online For quite a while yeah it's like kind of An intimate experience you have to know The brand trust the cut like you kind of Have have to know I'm saying this as a Shopaholic I'm like you have to build That consumer trust in my mind how do I Know that your boot is going to fit my Foot like I have a narrow foot maybe Sometimes Some Cuts you have to go up a Size maybe down a size depending on how It is and so I see shopping as a Religious experience you have to just Know you have to have that there's a Trust a bond at least for me that comes

With physical shopping physical and Online shopping because once you get to Know a brand you're like okay I can just Buy it now I can go on online and get it Right but initially you you got to court Each other I think I don't know you know I mean I totally get it cuz there's just So many things still and we've talked About this pack guests that's like okay This is not available online cool like Everyone's so easily jumping to buy that Online and then other things are like Hey this is available online and people Are like I don't know if I want to buy That online it just like takes time to Like rework your brain to discover like Oh yeah that is something we now buy Online that we never did before I know There's so much stuff that we now buy Online where like we weren't before but The other thing I want to talk about Paul which is very much Switching gears He's not the first person we've had on The show who's transitioned from being CEO to Executive chairman but I always Think that talking to people about that Process is so interesting because what He was saying about how he is super Committed to the business obviously he Wants to help build things and do the Creative stuff but he didn't want to be A CEO because the CEO is largely like a Process person and a hiring person and It made me realize how many founder CEOs

We have who are literally like Essentially I hate every aspect of the CEO job but this is my company and I Love running it but it's like they don't Actually like the CEO role it's like Good to see someone be like well yeah so I made this transition so I could do all The things in the company I liked doing And thought I was good at and let Someone else run the part that I don't Want to do and the part that I'm not as Good at I know I wish more Founders Would take the time to realize if they Were actually good CEOs or not and then Take a step back um you know some people Are cut out for the job a lot of people Aren't no it's so true and you could say That for like a lot of other different Areas too where it's like there's so Many jobs where it's like your next step To get promoted automatically involves Managing people for example and it's Like there's a lot of people who deserve That promotion or deserve to go to that Next role who just are not good at or Just straight up don't want to manage People so it's like it's funny to be Like I'm a Founder I have this great Idea I'm going to go build this company And then it's like five years in you're Like cool so I'm like doing zooms about Hiring for this department and stuff It's like that's not much you want to do I know right like knowing your strengths

Finding your own product Market fit that That is essential when running a Business so I don't know I like hearing About Founders who realize H CEO not for Me I should not be doing this yeah and I Think it was interesting what he said About relating it back to the fact that He was the only like a solo founder in The sense of it's like well it's kind of Like you have fewer options then you Can't have like another founder take Over for you and stuff like that so it Definitely makes the process a little Bit different yeah I know I wonder I Didn't he worked at McKenzie I had so Many questions about maybe the this is Me just stereotyping McKenzie no I think He brought this up a little bit about The way Consulting is and the Environment of Consulting and how it Kind of conforms you into one thing and Then suddenly you're a founder and You're you're in the wild west you're on A horse you're running you're free um I I wish well I guess we could kind of Talk about it but the psychology of that Is interesting going from working in These rigid rigid environments to being Free no and people talk about that on The VC side too especially when it was Like two years ago whenever like the big Thing was like being an operator Le fund And stuff like that which I mean a lot Of them already were but everyone was

Just decided to start talking about it Two years ago but the point people were Making where it's like why would working At a consultant fir like McKenzie make You good at picking contrarian bets on Startups and Niche industries that don't Exist yet and Stu like why would that Make you good at it and I was like hey That's a good point that's a really good Point that's they are kind of yeah like All right that is that's a good point Yeah yeah I like this company I'll Probably look at some boots or maybe I Was thinking about what else would they Expanding cuz I sent that photo of um The high heel boots oh my God the C Stilettos that's what's next that's What's Next found is hosted by myself TechCrunch senior reporter Becca scac Alongside senior reporter Dominic madori Davis found is produced by Maggie Stamitz with editing by Kell our Illustrator is Bryce Durban founds Audience development and social media is Managed by Morgan little Alyssa Stringer And Natalie chman Tech crunch's audio Products are managed by Henry pikovit Thanks for listening and we'll be back Next week [Music]


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