Boots cover the walls of the small shop, forming a work of art comprised of leathers, textiles and stitchwork. Each pair of boots has been delicately hand-crafted with a keen eye for detail and quality. Sitting in the midst of it all is the craftsman himself.
Noel Escobar is the owner of the shop Texas Custom Boots that has produced boots of all shapes, sizes, leathers and detailings as unique as Austin for nearly four decades.
From how he tells it, Escobar grew up with boots in his hands. At the age of 11, he helped his parents with their family business Escobar Shoe Repair. Shortly after moving to Austin from the Rio Grande Valley, Escobar found work in something he was all too familiar with.
“It was about two or three months into living in Austin, I answered this ad (for Texas Custom Boots),” Escobar said. “And six months after I was here, I was already purchasing this business.”
Escobar wasn’t nervous about buying the shop at the age of 22. He felt everything was right, and the pieces were falling right into place.
“I guess knowing the ropes, I didn’t think about it at the time,” Escobar said. “It worked out, my folks backed me up.”
While he enjoys being in business for himself, Escobar said he agrees there can be ups and downs. Despite the everyday, mundane tasks and chores that come along with maintaining a business, the silver lining is the ability to craft and share a high quality product with his community.
“Your days can be very profitable,” Escobar said. “Custom boots can cost a pretty penny. It’s like getting a hand-tailored suit.”
From the ball of the foot, width, your low instep, your high instep, from your heel to your calf, everything in one of Escobar’s creations is tailored to the individual. Escobar said a pair of basic custom-made boots starts off around $2,500, but when clients ask for boots with meticulous detail or exotic leathers, that’s when Escobar said prices start to jump.
“Some exotics double up the price of a basic boot,” Escobar said. “A pair of alligator boots can fetch you a good twelve grand. You can buy a good used car for that kind of money.”
With the prestigious and high quality products he creates, Escobar created a reputation for Texas Custom Boots as one of the premier boot makers in the world. As a result, recognized names from a variety of places come to purchase their own pair.
“I’ve made boots for Clint Eastwood and Kevin Costner,” Escobar said. “We were fortunate enough to have Adele walk in and shop with us. I’ve sold boots to one of the members of the Foo Fighters, and the Black Keys have been in here.”
Although he’s run Texas Custom Boots for 30 years, Escobar maintains his passion for creating works of art. Escobar enjoys presenting leathers and skins to visitors, explaining that while some pelts are as local as Houston, the ostrich used was ranch-raised as far away as South Africa. Escobar puts time and effort into every moment of a boot’s production.
“I eat, breathe and sleep this,” Escobar said.
Texas Custom Boots is an original gem among Austin’s diverse and one of a kind community, with Escobar telling this story one boot at a time. At the end of the day, there’s a multitude of reasons why Escobar remains passionate for Texas Custom Boots, but he’s altogether driven by one thing.
“(It’s) waiting for the following day to see that person’s expression on their face of what I can perform,” Escobar said.