At some point in a company's life, the creative edge is lost and they become a huge corporation with very little soul. I've been in a lot of meetings in my life where the only thing in view outside of the conference room is a sea of cubicles and zombie like employees.
It's a lot like the television series, The Office, where an employee handbook is the law and your life revolves around how many days you've accumulated for vacation.
Within these mega corporations are thick lines that you must not cross when executing best business practices. And in my opinion, these very lines yield very little return on the human spirit that abides by them.
Now you may believe that by saying this, I'm bashing the big corporation and painting a bowl of cherries for the small business. On the contrary as I own a small business and I can tell you first hand, it ain't no picnic. The money is always tight, the cash flow is always a challenge and don't even get me started on insurance and payroll taxes.
But at the end of the day, the spirit is pushed to the bitter end in a small shop. It becomes like a well oiled basketball team of solid players that come in and play ball for eight hours every day. They eat, sleep and dream their passions and those passions hopefully stem from a great place to work. And if that work produces great product or service, then the big corporations will always come a calling to get the very thing that they may have lost so long ago.
It is with this in mind that I tell you one of those small business tales that can only happen within the insanity of a creative mind. Throw in some loosey goosey business tactics and you've got yourself the American dream.
In 1989, a photographer by the name of Marty Snortum was approached by an Italian/German boot maker/entrepreneur who wanted to move back to Europe. It would seem that he longed for his homeland and couldn't take the Texas heat. Whatever the case, Marty saw it as an opportunity as the Italian/German had started a boot company in El Paso and wanted to sell it.
Now if you know anything about creative people, we're all pretty much broke pretty much all of the time. So Marty did what only few genius creative people might do in this situation. He bartered one valuable for another and in this case, that would be one 1953 vintage Cadillac Hearse and one fifth of El Paso's finest tequila. No lawyers. No bankers. Just good old fashioned tequila shots and lets get down to business.
Marty, being a designer as well as a photographer, has an extreme passion for old retro things. Not too many folks would actually own a 1953 vintage Cadillac Hearse so one would see that he might have a fetish for the finer things in life. This love affair with retro things transformed into Rocket Buster Boots which for the last twenty years has created and produced some of the most innovative an original cowboy boots in the world.
With over 100 designs to choose from, their clientele roster ranges from Billy-Bob Thorton to Oprah Winfrey and just about everybody in between. They have six folks on staff and four of them are second generation boot makers. They produce around 500 boots a year that will bring an average of $2,800 a pair.
As most small businesses do, I'm sure they have their share of struggles. They probably wonder when the next customer will come through the door or how in the world they will make payroll next month. No small business is without the worry of a solid consumer market. But I'll bet my hat that they are all happy people creating something that is as fulfilling to their souls as it is to their customer's feet.
If you're ever in El Paso, put a Rocket up your Buster and get your boots on.