Armin Oehler How long have you been in Greenville?
I moved to Greenville in 1999 as a student from Germany. Funny enough, my university hosted an exchange with Clemson however that's now how I arrived.
Originally I came to Greenville to work in the automotive sector and build upon my enginnering training. Most interesting fact about you:
Although I have degrees in Banking and Engineering and have spent a lifetime in sales, I'm extremely creative. An artistic engineer is a bit of an anomaly. I've been known to throw together a bow tie from leather for a black tie event in a matter of hours. Your background:
I'm a sixth generation from a family of tanners in Southern Germany.
My family has handed the tradition of leather tanning from father to oldest son since 1823. My older brother, a master tanner, runs the tannery and we work together curating styles that fit our respective markets.
I like to think my mens footwear has a Southern sensibility with a modern European feel. My creative energy is channeled through leather footwear design.
I have been a creative soul my entire life however my education and internships routed me into a different direction before returning and making my passion my own company. I always enjoyed the design and negotiation work. This is a new chapter in my life after spending almost two decades in Automotive.
Leather goods were only my hobby years ago. It was a big step for me to leave my safe harbor working with almost every Automotive OEM (Tesla, GM, Honda, Ford, Chrysler, VW, Audi, BMW, Daimler and up and coming Silicon Valley OEM's. In the past I would travel to BMW and Daimler in Germany.
Now my visits are to the tannery and (perk of the new life) to see my mother, brother and sister. I remember being called by a company named "Tesla" over a decade ago when they had 40 some employees in L.A. It has really been invigorating to see how an electric car start up can be made sexy and rock an industry.
I like to dream about how a classic goodyear welted shoe (the traditional method for shoemaking) can made sexy again by an outsider. I don't have the first minute of formal fashion design training, but I can marry form and function with classic style.
My main competitor does $2.8 Billion in revenue with 13,000 employees in 62 Countries. To say I'm the underdog would be an understatement. I hope my wife and I can put Greenville on the map for shoe design over the next decade.
Currently reading or watching:
I just finished Shoe Dog by Phil Knight on audiobooks.I spend a great deal of time on the road which has given me "the time", so to speak.
Phil is the father of Nike and the book takes you through his life and the birth of a global shoe empire. Believe it or not, he was an underdog and I'm a sucker for underdogs.
Don't ask me to read an actual book, the closest I'll get is reading is TOWN magazine. Hobby:
Every chance we get, we head up to lake Keowee to go wake surfing. On a sunny weekend you will find my wife at the helm dragging me in an endless loop. Thankfully my girls who are five and seven, love wake boarding and trying tricks. If you see a guy on a wake surfboard with a five year old on his shoulders, give me a wave. Tagline / Motto:
Sell those shoes! On a more professional note, our company tagline is my tagline. Luxury leather since 1823.
Who do you work for?
Thankfully, I work for myself! My wife and I co-own www.ArminOehler.com
which is my design house. At the moment, I carry a full line of men's Goodyear welted dress shoes and belts. What is your day-to-day on the job?
Everything from trips to Germany and Portugal for work on design to last minute "the customer needs if for his rehearsal dinner tonight" hand delivered shoes.
There is something gratifying turning a side hustle into a thriving business in just two years. I'm hands on in every area of our growth. I've defiantly enjoyed meeting an entirely new industry of players moving into the fashion industry.
The fashion folks are hands down a vibrant and engaging family which contrasts from the fast paced, high intensity world of automotive design. We attend the mens fashion industry events in New York, Chicago and Charlotte twice a year to display and connect with boutique mens retailers across the U.S. Oh, and I am on a first name basis with USPS. How do you think Greenville would describe you in one word?
Charming (Charmin' Armin) How would you describe Greenville in one word?
Bezaubernd - In English that means Enchanting Besides residence, where is your favorite Greenville morning hangout?
Designing in my studio or surfing at the lake. Besides residence, where is your favorite Greenville evening hangout?
We're social creatures and can be found at any number of fundraisers through the year meeting new people. At the end of the night an old fashioned at the bar at Hall's is a good bet after a meal at Jianna's.