BORN IN OAXACA
In 1933 Felipe Martinez began crafting leather goods in Oaxaca, Mexico. Felipe made traditional sandals (huaraches) and also equipment for his own Oaxacan baseball team: Casa Audelo. He taught his son, Don Pepe, who in turn taught his son, José to make rustic products that last forever.
When José was growing up his favorite artist was Rod Stewart and he desperately wanted his own pair of brightly colored shoes (just like the ones Rod wore). José asked his father, whose pragmatic and generous response was to buy him the materials and teach him how to make his own. They turned out so well that José made several more pairs and sold them in the local market – his first design and entrepreneurial success.
INSPIRED BY JAPAN
Although José is one of fourteen children, he was the only one to continue in the family trade. José was intent on improving his craft and finding new audiences, so he exhibited his work throughout Mexico.
While exhibiting near Mexico City José’s work caught the attention of a Japanese buyer and businessman. Eventually, José received a job offer and he traveled to Japan where he worked for six years as a master leather worker in residence at, of all places, a Wild-West theme park. There José was free to create his own designs and he learned new approaches towards working with leather. He was influenced by the Japanese reverence for craft, their minimalist aesthetic, and their appreciation of beautiful, everyday items.
The six years in Japan expanded José’s horizons and instilled in him a love of Japanese food and culture. In Japan, his neighbors taught him to make sashimi and okonomiyaki (a grilled Japanese cabbage pizza) and he taught them about mole and chilaquiles. When he returned to Oaxaca City, that knowledge enabled José to open a successful sushi bar.
ESTABLISHED IN PORTLAND
In 2005, Orox Leather Co. was born. José’s eldest son, Martin, while completing his degree in business from Portland State University, decided to talk to José and his father-in-law, John, about reviving the family leather crafting business. This led Jose to create a new line of sandals that drew on traditional Mexican techniques but were more contemporary and stylish.
Orox started small, with José and Martin making sandals in their garage and selling them at Saturday Market and crafts fairs. José soon realized that he needed a broader array of products, as sandal season in Oregon, even for the most optimistic and hearty, is limited. Orox began to design and craft our iconic purses, rucksacks, wallets and belts.
A few years later, José’s two other sons, Kevin and Levi, also joined Orox. With Orox’s retail and online businesses growing, we decided to open a store and workshop in Old Town, Portland to create an environment where you can meet the makers behind the brand.
We continually design exciting new products and expand our offerings. Each season we introduce new styles with inspired, elegant design, often based on thoughtful feedback from customers and partners such as yourselves.
We are committed to creating products that last forever and that have minimal environmental impact. All our materials are US made, many from venerable manufacturers such as Horween Leather Company, Cone Denim Mills, and Martin Dyeing and Finishing Company. These high quality materials look great and are extremely durable.