Corral Boots have set a standard for cutting-edge western fashion, especially in women’s boots. If you want boots with fancy leather overlays, vivid colors, and intricate stitching, chances are high you’ll find them with Corral.
So it may surprise you that one man is behind Corral Boots’ distinctive look – the company’s president and owner, Othell Welch.
More amazingly, Welch holds no background in art or design.
“I can’t draw a stickman,” Welch acknowledged. “I can see the boot in my head, but I can’t put it down on paper. So I work with my very talented artists. I tell them what I’m seeing and why type of design I’m thinking about, then they start drawing things up for me.
“When we get the right one, I know it when I see it.”
Welch doesn’t have a set routine in dreaming up his boot inspirations. They just come to him.
“I just look around – color combinations such as flowers, butterflies, and things I see from day to day,” he said. “I also get a lot of inspiration from my motorcycle background.”
Welch owned motorcycle dealerships in Texas for years, and was planning to semi-retire to Mexico. His daughter and son-in-law lived in Arizona and wanted to move back to Texas. Noting his long business relationships with motorcycle boot makers in Mexico, Welch saw an opportunity.
“Since I was already in Mexico, I asked my daughter and son-in-law whether they were interested in getting started in the western boot business,” Welch said. “That was 12 years ago.”
Corral Boots struggled in its first few years, mostly because its boots “looked like everyone else’s.” But Welch saw an opening in the ladies western boot market.
“I started with some ladies boots with different colors, different patterns, different designs – anything that looked different from anything else out there,” he said.
Welch said he was onto something in 2003 when Corral’s first hand-painted python boots (“It was the most beautiful boot I’d ever seen”) were sold at a western-wear market in Dallas.
“We kinda scared people at first because we were out of the norm, off the wall,” he recalled. “But now, there are a whole lot of people copying what we’ve been doing for years.”
Corral’s hand-painted python boots are still being made.
Of the dozens of boots Welch has designed, among his favorites are the ladies black inlay lizard boots and the women’s red, yellow, and turquoise butterfly inlay boots.
“Those have been in our line for years, and they’re still great boots.”
Although Corral Boots is headquartered in McAllen, Texas, Welch says he spends nine to 10 months each year at the factory in Leon, Mexico, overseeing production. When he’s not there, he’s attending western-wear conventions and markets in the States.
“That’s a major key to our success,” he said. “I want to hear the comments that customers are making about the boots. It gives me a lot of feedback on what we’re doing.”
If a certain Corral boot style isn’t in stock, it often requires weeks to be made. Welch acknowledges the wait
time is a problem, but that situation is improving.
“Every year, we’ve had astronomical growth, and it’s been hard to keep up with customers’ orders. But this past year, we delivered 80 percent of our orders in under 60 days, and 94 percent in under 90 days. So it’s getting better.
“Also, if you look at our boots and see how many cutouts we do, laser work and stitching that’s done, there’s just so much labor involved. It takes a little longer to make them.
“But I’ll put our boot quality up against any boot company out there.”
Welch also gave credit to George Allen, Corral’s general manager of distribution and retail sales, for the company’s meteoric rise.
“If it were not for the hard work and devotion from George,” Welch said, “it would not have been possible to rise to the level we are in, in such a short time.”