This month, we're giving you a closer look at the man behind Justin Boots, brand manager Louis Russo. Russo has led the launch of innovative product lines - including Justin Bent Rail, the Stampede Collection, the George Strait Collection, and the Justin AQHA Lifestyle Collection - while maintaining a dedication to the brand's tradition of handcrafting best-in-class products in the U.S. Through the following Q&A, Russo fills you in on his passion for the job, dedication to customers, and love of the western lifestyle.
Q: How long have you been working in the western industry?
"I've been with Justin Boots for a little more than 8 1/2 years, and prior to that I was with Wrangler for a little more than 21 years. So, in total, I've been involved in the western apparel industry for almost 30 years."
Q: Wow! 21 years? A passion for the western way of life must truly run in your veins.
"My family has been involved in farming and ranching in Texas since the late 1870s, and I actively enjoy the western lifestyle. We live in the country just west of Fort Worth with our roping horses, cattle dogs and a few head of steers."
Q: Let's get down to the specifics of being a brand manager. What does your job entail?
"My job responsibilities are diverse and include developing the brand business plan and strategies, and working with our product development, special events, marketing, and sales teams. I also get to work with our great retail partners and the various groups and entities we sponsor such as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, American Quarter Horse Association and National FFA Organization."
Q: What's your favorite part of your job?
"I would have to say my favorite part of my job is problem solving - identifying areas for improvement and making adjustments so we're providing our consumers with the best possible product. I especially enjoy visiting with our consumers directly to get a better understanding of their needs and expectations for western footwear."
Q: What sort of responses do you hear most frequently from consumers?
"Generally, I hear that what they most often want is a comfortable, durable pair of boots that are made in America. What I am most proud of is Justin's dedication to handcrafting boots in the USA in our own domestic manufacturing facilities. While other brands in a lot of industries are expanding their outsourcing, we've expanded our U.S. production and increased our American workforce. I know our employees and retail partners appreciate it, and I believe the western consumer expects it and appreciates it as well."
Q: We have to ask - how many pairs of boots do you own?
"I currently have about 15 pairs in my closet including dress, work, roper, and casual, knock-around boots. Most of my boots are fairly current; however, I do own a pair of women's lace-up Justin Boots from the early 1900s I put on display in my den."
Q: Which pair are your personal favorite?
"My favorite pair are my Justin AQHA Remuda black full quill ostrich boots. You can't beat ostrich for a combination of comfort and durability."
Do you have any questions for a Justin Boots employee? If so, write them in the comments section below to get your answer, and check back with us next month to meet another person behind the brand.