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Small business, big dreams

October 02, 2013

The family behind Orox Leather artisan goods used PDC assistance to open their first store and workshop in Old Town

After many years making sandals out of a garage and selling at Saturday Market, Orox Leather Co. moved into Old Town in December 2012, and celebrated its first bricks-and-mortar store with a grand opening party on August 1, 2013.

The family behind Orox Leather Co. has been making adjustable sandals since 1969 and working with leather for far longer. Owner Jose Martinez, a third-generation leather craftsman after his father and grandfather, developed the company’s blend of legacy and modernity by drawing on extensive experience crafting traditional Mexican leather products under his father and then incorporating his own, more progressive designs of leather tennis shoes, bags, and sports gear.

Orox – whose name recognizes the family’s home in Oregon and their roots in Oaxaca, Mexico – blends the durability of leather and the sustainability of recycled materials in each handcrafted item.

The new headquarters at 450 NW Couch showcases Orox’s handcrafted leather goods and the company’s talented artisans as they individually craft each piece. PDC’s Storefront Improvement Program provided assistance with design, signage and lighting for the store.

Martinez has passed his knowledge and techniques down to his children, Martin, Levi and Kevin Martinez. Just as their great-grandparents did 70 years ago, the Orox Leather Co. family hopes to preserve tradition while fostering originality.

Owner Jose Martinez said, “Our business is definitely personal. Following in the footsteps of my great-grandfather, all of our creations are made by hand with the skill of a practiced craftsman and the attention to detail of an innovative artist. We strive to design a craft worthy of pride, an heirloom to pass on from one generation to the next.”

Son Martin Martinez adds, “PDC helped us take the huge jump from being a garage business to becoming a Portland brand. People are now identifying us as a destination and must-see. We hope to expand our brand awareness first in the city and then nationally, growing to employ more skilled people in our city. For the next two-plus years, we will be working on expanding our wholesale sales, collaborations with other brands and increasing our manufacturing capacity accordingly.”