Pablo Urgiegas, CEO of Leather Lately, talks about the custom shoe business and the special trunk shows available for CEOs and their employees.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is the website, 844-814-8144 is our 24-hour call-in line. That means call in now. Call in later. Call in at 3:00 in the morning. I don’t really have an opinion on it. We’re going to get the experts on here to get those questions answered.
We’re talking about clothing this week on the show, and we have a very interesting company that makes shoes, very high-end, nice dress shoes. This is going to be a very interesting segment. I’m your host, Matt Register. Jay Curry is the one sitting over there in the co-host seat. What do you think?
Jay Curry: Got to agree with you. We were talking the other day about how much fun it is to find somebody that’s figured out what they can utilize the internet for, to make a business model. This is a great example I would have never thought of, and that’s just got huge potential.
Matt Register: Well, Pablo Uriegas is the founder of Leather Lately, and they make some phenomenal shoes, if you’re watching online, watching the video, we have some of them out here on the table.
Pablo, welcome to the show, sir.
Pablo Uriegas: Thank you. Thank you, Matt. Thank you for having me here.
Matt Register: So, talk to me about Leather Lately. What do you do and I want to get into, here in a minute, some of the unique channels you’re using to sell these shoes, right?
Pablo Uriegas: Yes, well basically, we founded this shoe company, or shoe brand, last year, 2017, and it started because I’d been selling leather to other shoe companies for over 20 years, and I realized over the years that shoe companies are changing their materials. They are using more synthetic materials, more fabric, more synthetic leather, if you want to call it that, and I’ve seen quality go down.
And I started making shoes for myself and for my friends, and saying, “What’s the best leather I can use for my shoe, and what’s the best construction?” And that’s how it all started.
Now we are selling online. We have our web page, leatherlately.com, and that’s our main platform to expand.
Matt Register: Well, and leatherlately.com is where you can go buy these shoes, one of the ways you can go buy these shoes, right?
Now, these are high-end dress shoes. We’re looking at, you know, about $300.00 bucks a pair. Is that accurate?
Pablo Uriegas: Yes. Our goal is to make the $600.00 shoe for under $300.00 by selling direct, by not having brick and mortar locations. We have a very lean operation and all the money is focused on the quality of the shoe.
Matt Register: Well, talk to me a little bit about the leather industry, itself, because we were talking during the break. I guess I didn’t realize that you have a lot of bleeding hearts that say you’re killing animals, and everything else, but that’s not really the case, is it?
Pablo Uriegas: No, it’s not, and it’s really funny, especially with the younger generations. They always ask me, “Well, how many cows are you kill?” And I don’t kill any. Leather is a by-product of the meat industry, so the slaughter houses, they take care of the slaughtering of the animals, and they process the meat, and then they sell the hides to people like us, where we buy them, and we process them, and we turn it into leathers.
We are actually in the recycling business.
Matt Register: Well, and nobody kills a cow for the leather, right? I mean, it’s a very, very small piece of the value of the cow, right, is the leather, so we-
Pablo Uriegas: Yes, and we were talking about that. It’s only about, well, it depends on the time, but it’s about 5% of the whole value of the cow. So leather is 5% of the value. We take it, and we turn it, and we reuse it into beautiful products.
Matt Register: Well, interesting. What are the other channels you’re using? So, you’re selling online. You’re not in retail at all on purpose, right? But one of the other channels that you’re using, I found very interesting. Tell me a little bit about that, because you’re actually going in the businesses and helping them get their employees looking good, right?
Pablo Uriegas: Exactly. Well, one of the things, when we started selling online is we realized that people needed to see the shoe. When you put a picture of the shoe online, it’s hard to see the quality, so we started taking these shoes in person to companies. They love the shoe. They love the way it is, and one of the things about our company is they’re all custom made.
So, we also tap into the experience of the customer, measuring them, and making sure we show them the materials and the styles that they can choose, and we found out that they love it.
Over the Christmas period, I was talking to one company and we said, “What if you give shoes to your employees, and make it a special occasion for them.” And that’s one of the things we are doing.
Also, there’s banks and law firms that they want their employees to dress well, so we do these special trunk shows where we set up a table and we take every employee’s measurements and we build a shoe then, and we deliver in three to four weeks.
Jay Curry: So they can actually pick different options, right, the type of shoe, the type of leather, the color of the shoe …
Pablo Uriegas: Yes, we have about 18 different styles of shoes. We have about nine different styles of boots. We have 28 different leathers, three types of outsoles, different finishes, …
Jay Curry: Make the style, make the fit?
Pablo Uriegas: Make the style and make the fit. We are also personalizing the insole or the outsole with the name or with a special message, so people love that. I think in a world where everything’s going commodity, or big and large, and big corporations where you find the same products everywhere, you need to go the opposite route when you’re a small business. You need to focus on small, niche, personalized business, and that’s our intention.
Matt Register: Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m impressed. It’s interesting. It’s a new product. It’s a niche market. I really, really like it. In fact, I got my producer talking in my ear.
We have on the phone Peter Morris, one of these guys you did a trunk show for and came in and … Peter Morris is president of Stanley Oil and Gas. Peter, are you on the phone, sir?
Peter Morris: Yes, I am, Matt. How are you doing, Pablo?
Pablo Uriegas: Hi Pete. Nice to see you, nice to hear you again.
Matt Register: Pete, talk to me a little bit, because were you the company that did the Christmas presents?
Peter Morris: Yeah, yes we did. I was talking to Pablo, and you know, as many executives have the frustration of trying to find Christmas gifts, or holiday gifts every year, that are unique, he came up with the idea of doing this for my team.
So, we get together on a quarterly basis and I kind of surprised the team with a presentation that Pablo did with them, that gave them education on shoes, what kind of shoes you wear with suits, the derby versus the oxford, and then behind the curtain, we had all displayed the styles, and he had the system there that measured each one of my executives, who ended up picking any pair of shoes they wanted as a gift.
And of the 11 men that ordered the shoes, the sizes were perfect and no one complained. As a matter of fact, people walk around the office talking about how comfortable the shoes are, still.
And of course, the ladies on the team got leather bags, so I didn’t leave them out, as well.
Matt Register: It’s interesting. What a unique … I know in my business, you always struggle to find something that’s unique and interesting. What an interesting concept for a gift for a team member, right?
Peter Morris: It was grand, and it was more than just a gift. It was a whole experience. You know, like I said, most people know their sizes. I’m a nine, nine and a half. But they don’t know the width of their shoe, so getting that part of the experience and education’s been helpful as well for when they make a future purchase.
Matt Register: Well, I’ll tell you what. I don’t know about you, but I know my wife keeps me straight on … Believe it or not, there’s a lot of rules associated with how men should dress. I don’t know any of them. My wife knows all of them, but I don’t, right?
Peter Morris: That’s right, and Pablo helped them out, too, so they can dress for success.
Matt Register: All right. Wonderful. Well, Peter Morris, president of Stanley Oil and Gas. Hey, Peter, thank you very much for calling in.
Peter Morris: Thanks for having me. [crosstalk 00:08:36]
Matt Register: Pablo, last question. If somebody is interested in doing this, because you could buy them directly online, right?
Pablo Uriegas: Yes, you can buy them directly online at our page. If you google Leather Lately, we’ll come up in the first places, leatherlately.com. There is a contact page there. They can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Register: All right. Wonderful. And actually, these things are actually made in The Woodlands, Texas. Interesting company. Interesting concept. And I love the fact of your distribution channels, right? You’re selling it online. You’re selling it through trunk shows.
So, we have Pablo Uriegas is the founder of Leather Lately. I want to thank you very much for joining us.
Pablo Uriegas: Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Jay.
Jay Curry: The quality is outstanding.
Pablo Uriegas: I appreciate.
Matt Register: Yeah, and in fact, I’m jealous. These are beautiful shoes. If you get a chance, leatherlately.com. We’re going to have it linked right there from texasbusinessradio.com, if you’re driving and can’t take notes.
In the meantime, I’m going to have to get me a pair of those. Those are very, very nice-looking shoes.
We do have to go pay a couple of our own bills, though. I’ve got to raise enough money to go buy a pair of shoes, right?
We’re going to be back right on the other side of the break with a whole lot more Texas business Radio. Don’t go anywhere.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.