Orox spans four generations...
...four generations of leather makers with roots beginning in Oaxaca, Mexico. Our name Orox represents the merging our past (Oaxaca) with our present (Oregon).
It all started in 1933, with a family and a baseball team. Don Felipe Martinez Audelo began developing custom-made leather baseball gear and belts for his own team: Los Audelos. His sons grew up playing baseball with him. Off the field, they worked together learning the family craft of making traditional leather sandals and accessories. As Felipe grew into old age, his middle son, Don Pepe took on the family business, and with the help of the oldest of Pepe’s 14 children, he grew the business. Don Pepe's tenth son, José was eight years old when he began to work in the family business. José grew a natural, ingrained love for leather at that early age. He developed an ability to conceptualize designs in his mind. He applied this skill in the making of footwear, bags and complex murals tooled into leather.
FROM OAXACA TO JAPAN
As José grew into a young man and started traveling, he met a group of Japanese businessmen who fell in love with his work. In 1991, José was personally invited to Japan to develop and manufacture his unique designs and products. José accepted the offer and moved away from his young family in Oaxaca, visiting them twice a year. He spent six years in Japan, every day developing leather goods and perfecting his craft.
From Oaxaca to Portland
After returning from Japan, and reuniting with his family, he wanted a break from leather making. Having been influenced by his love for Japanese food and his experience living and cooking with his sumo fighter roommate in Japan, he opened the first Sushi bar in Oaxaca. inspired by his sumo fighter roommate who thought him how to cook in Japan. The restaurant ran for eight years with his wife Jackeline and his oldest son Martin.
Influenced by a good friend from Oregon, Martin moved to Portland to complete his business degree at Portland State University. While studying he met and fell in love with his wife, and wanted to build a life and business in Portland. Heeding the call of tradition and history, and now coupled with knowledge of the business world: Martin wanted to revive the roots of leather crafting with his parents José and Jackeline and his father-in-law John. Conversations between son and father led the master leather maker, José, to return to his initial craft and he began the development of a new line of leather goods, handmade in Portland with the best quality materials.
The family trade in Portland started small, with just José and Martin working in their garage and retailing at Portland's Saturday Market and various craft fairs. In 2012, with Orox’s retail and online business growing, the family made the decision to open a store and workshop in Portland's Old Town district- envisioning a retail environment mixed with on-site manufacturing, allowing for customers to see the products handcrafted and assembled in real time. At this point José’s two other sons, Martin’s brothers- Kevin and Levi, proudly joined the family business, as generations before them had done.
We aim to create high quality durable goods that, while stylish, don’t go in and out of style. We hope that our products will be used and loved for years, and eventually passed on to the next generation. Scratches and scuffs, a physical record of experiences and adventures, will add character and beauty.
Leather is an ever-changing material that continues to evolve as it ages and acquires a patina of use. Making products that last is part of our Mexican heritage. In Oaxaca during the 60's and 70's, fast fashion didn’t exist, and a pair of shoes or a belt needed to last a long, long time. With care our products will last for generations and become treasured heirlooms.