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Austin bootmaker Tecovas lands $56 million to open more stores, add apparel

Lori Hawkins
Austin American-Statesman
Tecovas, which generates more than 60% of its sales online, is betting on growth from new retail stores, said Paul Hedrick, founder and CEO of Tecovas. (Courtesy of Tecovas)

Tecovas, the Austin-based company that started as an online seller of handmade cowboy boots, has raised $56 million to expand its brand.

The company, which currently makes about 60% of its sales online, is betting on growth from new retail stores, said Paul Hedrick, founder and CEO of Tecovas.

Before opening its first store on South Congress Avenue in 2019, the company generated all its revenue from online sales.

Tecovas now operates 19 stores in 10 states and plans to open its 20th location in northern Virginia on Friday. With the new funding, the company plans to open five to seven stores in 2022.

In addition to new stores, Tecovas plans to offer additional footwear, apparel and accessories, Hedrick said. 

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Tecovas cowboy 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 made using custom tanned leathers.

The investment was led by Elephant, a venture capital firm founded by eyewear retailer Warby Parker co-founder Andy Hunt. Investors Access Capital, Seamless Capital and Kemmons Wilson Companies also participated.

Tecovas company has raised $120 million to date.

Tecovas' business model is similar to Warby Parker, in which people try on products in-store and then go online to make purchases. Tecovas is one of a number of retailers that were initially online-only before embarking on a brick-and-mortar expansion. San Francisco-based footwear brand Allbirds, which also launched on the web, opened a store on South Congress Avenue in Austin in 2020.

"We’ve seen rapid growth since Tecovas’ launch, and we plan to use the proceeds from this funding to continue on that trajectory, investing significantly in hiring, expanding our retail footprint, buying more inventory, and launching many new products," Hedrick said.

Austin-based Tecovas operates 19 stores in 10 states and plans to open its 20th location in Northern Virginia on Friday. (Courtesy of Tecovas)

The Tecovas Austin store is at a mixed-use project at 1333 S. Congress Ave.  The three-story development is called Saint Vincent, after the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store that previously occupied the space.

The company's corporate headquarters is moving from that South Congress site to a WeWorkco-working space on Barton Springs Road, where it will take 23,000 square feet. Tecovas currently has 90 corporate employees and 400 workers in retail and other roles. It will continue to operate its flagship store on South Congress.

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The company plans to reach up to 140 employees at its headquarters in 2022 in areas including product development, operations, marketing, finance, accounting, human relations and legal roles, Hedrick said.

As with many retailers, the coronavirus pandemic hit the company hard. But it is now rebuilding, especially with the new investment, Hedrick said.

"We really had to hunker down and not grow our team at all, and face pretty big headwinds," he said. "Now we are just in a much different position than we were. We've got big ambitions, and we think we're just in the early innings of developing this brand."

The company, which is privately held, does not disclose financial details, but Hedrick said that in 2021 it reached $100 million in revenue and is profitable. It also sold its one millionth pair of cowboy boots in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Tecovas, the Austin-based company that started as an online seller of handmade cowboy boots, has raised $56 million to expand its brand. (Courtesy of Tecovas)