A great pair of cowboy boots speaks for itself.
But when I recently came across Chisos, an Austin, Texas based cowboy boot brand that makes classic western boots, I wanted to get to know the founder.
Will Roman, a Texas native and the lead designer/founder of Chisos, was kind enough to answer a few questions on what gave him the inspiration to start a traditional footwear brand and what makes Chisos different.
What is Chisos?
Chisos was founded in 2019 in Austin, Texas—it’s a small western boot brand that bases its designs off of traditional footwear and the natural formations of Big Bend National Park.
I can’t lie: the brand caught my attention with their No. 5 boot, a roughout cowboy boot with white decorative stitching along the vamp and a cow skull decoration at the front of the shaft.
I might be a Californian at heart (and a North Carolinian by current location), but looking at that pair of boots makes me want to wear Texan.
At BootSpy, I cover a lot of heritage brands—some that’ve been around for over a century. But there are so many young entrepreneurs that are making incredible footwear and growing quickly. In some cases, young brands (under 10 years old) are gaining market share at an incredible rate. And Chisos is one of those brands.
Designed in Austin, this boot brand is Texas through and through. With inspiration from Big Bend National Park and a commitment to quality, Chisos is a young brand that's worth following.
I wanted to highlight the brand for you, and I also wanted to get to know the founder of this brand because I can tell they’re headed to lofty heights. The founder, Will Roman, was kind enough to sit and answer a few of my questions.
Interview with the Founder of Chisos
Q: Who was your hero growing up?
I read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt about age 13 and it blew me away.
Roosevelt’s strong willed nature and upright character appealed to me. He always took responsibility for his path in life and for giving back more than his fair share to his community and nation.
Q: What inspired you to start Chisos?
Chisos almost feels like my predetermined path.
I was born in Austin and ran around in a pair of red cowboy boots as a kid. My dad owned a small business and my mom was an artist. I grew up learning the thrill of making useful and beautiful things for others to enjoy.
Fast forward to my early thirties, resting out in West Texas after a day walking around Marfa. I’m wearing boots, of course. And my back hurts due to an old nagging injury.
I look down and think, “How hard could it be to make a pair of comfortable cowboy boots?”
I fell down the rabbit hole hard. Along the way, I cut in half cowboy boots and found out that the big mass produced boot companies were cutting corners. So I decided to fix that, too.
And that was the genesis for Chisos.
Q. What makes Chisos different from other cowboy boot brands (or boot brands in general)?
Pulling on a pair of Chisos for the first time makes you go, “Damn.”
That immediate feeling of comfort and our reputation for quality are table stakes, though. What really sets us apart is our ethos.
We’re a true small business—no big shot investors: just a bunch of hard work, some luck, and a wildly passionate community.
We love throwing parties to highlight local musicians.
We support Texas land conservation efforts and local nonprofits.
We open our doors so friends and neighbors can have a place to gather. That’s the stuff that really brings me joy.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
You are responsible for everything that happens in your life. Your response to both positive and negative events is your responsibility alone. Whatever happens, don’t blame others or circumstances. Don’t unconsciously react. Simply choose how best to respond. Related, the process is paramount to the outcome.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Chisos boots?
Getting to bring a little happiness to people! Folks post in our community group or write Chisos reviews or send us postcards (yes, postcards!) about how their Chisos boots positively contribute just a little to their lives.
For some, they’ve got foot or back pain and haven’t been able to wear cowboy boots for years, but now they can. Others appreciate the craftsmanship. Or maybe they like our designs, based on Big Bend National Park.
I just can’t believe I get to talk boots and Texas all day and call it work.
Q: How have you fared through supply chain issues in the last two years?
The increased competition for raw materials started to squeeze us last fall. The leather supply is down and corporations that previously looked overseas are now buying up the North American market.
Chisos owes a big debt of gratitude to the families we work with for prioritizing us even when they’d make more money serving the bigger companies. But it’s a great learning experience and forced us all to tighten up the screws where we were slacking. As well as seek out creative new solutions.
Q: Anything exciting about Chisos boots coming down the pipeline?
If you come by the Chisos boot shop in Austin, you’re likely to catch a peak of the prototypes I’m always experimenting with! And perhaps the Marfa Lights Edition will eventually brighten up that West Texas night sky…
That’s a Wrap
I’m really looking forward to seeing what Chisos has in store the next few years. Any time a brand is making high quality boots with excellent leather and impeccable construction, they’re winners in my book.
Check out the entire Chisos collection and learn more about the brand. And if you want my recommendation, spend a little extra time learning about the Chisos No. 5.
That’s a killer looking boot right there.