We sat down with Tecovas Founder Paul Hedrick, and Category Manager of Accessories, Vanessa Wolf, to talk about quality, a collaboration between two of Austin’s hottest brands, and why leather and steel make such a strong limited edition pairing.
Team Tecovas: At first glance, one could say that Tecovas and Made In are an odd pairing. Tell us how this collaboration came to be?
Paul Hedrick: To me, this was a match made in heaven. Two great Austin brands launched in the last decade whose primary mission is to disrupt their respective categories with best-in-class quality, approachable designs and prices, and a digitally native business model.
It helps that Jake and Chip, the founders of Made In, were personal friends of mine, and we had been talking—first for fun—about doing a collaboration for years. After we got Jake off the idea of ostrich leather placemats, we got serious about what a combination of brand and brainpower could yield. As we were shifting our efforts to the more rough and rowdy western outdoors, Made In was also building their presence in campfire, barbecue, and outdoor cooking. It was the perfect time to come together!
Vanessa Wolf: I forgot about the ostrich leather placemats!
As Paul mentioned, the product extensions each brand was going into all came together—and the story of spending time outside with friends and good food was a perfect fit! At the end of the day, both of our brands have many shared values and care for the customer experience. Even though the product may be on opposite ends of the spectrum, we were already speaking the same language.
TT: Vanessa, these products have a certain material richness to them. Can you elaborate on that?
VW: Our goal was to use materials our Tecovas customers may recognize, but applied in a way that is durable enough for indoor and outdoor kitchens. We knew the harness leather we introduced in our belts and knife sheaths last year would be a perfect fit. We love the way this leather ages and will have additional harness products coming this Fall. The Pan Handle is a piece that really showcases the natural qualities of the leather, and it will only get better with time. We used thicker straps for the knife roll, knowing this piece will get loaded up with all types of tools! All of the hardware pieces, as found in our leather bags, are brass. The heavy-duty twill uses the same wax formula we will use on our new bag collection launching this fall. These are all materials we know and love - and are proud to showcase in our products!
TT: How was it watching Chef Fink and Chef Bristol-Joseph in action?
PH: I'm a huge fan of Hestia and Emmer & Rye (and I have a sweet tooth, so Chef Bristol-Joseph has my heart). It was so fun for me to see them in action. It doesn’t get much better than being handed amazing food directly from the hands and fresh off the fire of one of my town's most renowned chef talents.
TT: Both Tecovas and Made In have a real passion for quality. What are some of the other common threads there?
PH: The similarities in our brands' approaches go well beyond having slick websites and Austin home addresses.
Both Tecovas and Made In have made it their mission to first please the customers who are most discerning: for Made In, that means creating tools for the kitchen that are up to the task for world-class chefs; for Tecovas, it means handcrafting boots for the customers who appreciate the lost art of high-quality bootmaking in 200+ handcrafted steps. We refer to this as the "tip of the spear" product and marketing strategy.
We also both care deeply about our customers' experiences and have made it a top priority to be the most beloved brands in their respective categories. Amazing customer service, seamless purchase experiences, straight-shooting product storytelling, and more.
Finally, I think we both enjoy good food, good beer, and being outside in our awesome home town.
VW: There is a shared passion for the product, the customer, and the entire experience that is something not every brand is fueled by. It is something you can feel at Tecovas and Made In. And ditto Paul's note on the good food and good beer!
TT: Paul, it’s not a secret that The Knox quickly became one of your favorite boots. What makes it so special?
PH: It's simple: it feels like walking on a cloud, and it has surprisingly good looks. You can wear it just as easily with dirty jeans and a tee in the backyard or garage as you can with a slick pearl snap at a concert or bar. I have worn the boots multiple times a week since I got my sample 6 months ago, and now I can't believe I lived without them.
TT: What’s your favorite piece of this Limited Edition lineup?
VW: The Knife Roll! I love how it came together. A truly collaborative piece.
PH: You know, I sort of have to say The Knox since it's my favorite boot we've released this year and Carbon Steel is a pretty great colorway, but Made In's knives are some of my favorite products I've ever bought. I own all of their limited edition knives, and they make me feel like a real chef, even though I'm about as amateur as it gets.
TT: When it comes to cookware, what does quality mean to you?
VW: A piece that can be used daily and only gets better with time. I can still remember pieces my mom or grandmother cooked with. Those pots that never left the stove or the knives that were always on the cutting board. In essence, the timeless pieces that were workhorses of the kitchen.
PH: Quality means being able to stand up to the test of a professional kitchen while being just as at home in mine. It means the quality of materials. It means instinctive ergonomics. All in all, my favorite design philosophy is Charles Eames' famous quote: the best for the most for the least. That's quality.
TT: What do y’all like to cook?
PH: I'm going to be honest: There are more empty takeout containers than pans in my sink on a regular basis. That said, my favorite thing to cook is breakfast—I love scrambling eggs on my Made In Non-Stick Pan. There's nothing like waking up to the fresh smell of bacon!
VW: A little bit of everything, especially food to share! Overall, I love the shared experience of cooking with others or all coming together for a meal. Talking about recipes, trying something new, sharing tips and tricks, and simply enjoying a finished dish with others is satisfying.
TT: How do you like to enjoy the outdoors?
PH: I love being outside, especially when it's temperate in Texas in the fall and winter or in the mountains in the summer. My ideal outdoor day is fly fishing early in the morning, hiking in the afternoon, and grilling steaks in the backyard with a glass of red wine in the evening.
VW: I love morning walks with my Blue Heeler mix. It helps set the tone of the day and clears my head. Closing out the day with time on the porch is pretty perfect too, especially when the Texas weather is accommodating.
Thanks y’all, now we're hungry!