Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Paul Hedrick.
Well-made cowboy boots don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, thanks to 28-year-old Austinite Paul Hedrick. The founder and CEO of Tecovas has always had a thing for great cowboy boots and the drive to start his own company.
Creating a brand from scratch that people truly connect to — at much lower prices — was his main motivation for ditching his job in finance. But the Harvard grad didn’t just start a company; he created a new model of boot production and sales that eliminates markups associated with traditional boot companies.
Customers purchase handmade boots crafted in León, Mexico, directly from Tecovas online, thereby avoiding overhead costs, and retailer and brand markups. But they still get a pair of quality boots to wear for years or pass down.
The down-to-earth Hedrick took a few minutes to give us a glimpse into his life.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Paul Hedrick: When you create a physical product or brand, it’s amazing to see how it can positively affect other people. Whenever customers send happy emails about their boots — or, better yet, when I see them “in the wild” and can chat with them in person — I guess you could say that’s what makes me excited to get up in the morning.
CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?
PH: One thing I’ve learned is that while you should always be humble and lean on others — who know more than you — for advice, most of the time if you want to innovate or build something from scratch, you just need to do it. You can’t really expect others who aren’t as invested in the success of your endeavor to get things pushed over the finish line.
Most of the hard work behind building something cool is just turning it into a manageable list of tasks and getting them done, one by one.
CM: Sum up Texas in three words.
PH: Eighth World Wonder.
CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?
PH: A few years ago, I came in last place in my fantasy football league and had to take the SAT as a punishment — as a 25-year-old. It was surprisingly pain-free to register and show up as an adult test taker, although the test itself was not pain-free.
I believe the practice of allowing 21-plus “students” to take the test is now banned, so I was the last of a generation.
CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”
PH: It’s a good day when I’m enjoying a day on the lake, and people are still buying a lot of boots online!
RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Hedrick and his fellow Austin winners.