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Meet Jose Luis and Jose Noel Rocha

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jose Luis and Jose Noel Rocha.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I arrived in San Diego in 1991 and started an Import-Export Business, what I expected to be a brief stay in San Diego has become a lifetime, my sons were born here and our businesses are here. San Diego is our home but we are proud Mexicans that wanted to show the world that Mexico can produce leather goods of the utmost quality that easily compete with those made in Italy, Spain, and France.

Ten years ago, we brought our luxury leather goods to the United States and officially started the J.L. Rocha brand, my youngest son, Jose-Noel, is my partner and helps form our unique perspective. Our distinct outlooks on life and completely different upbringings help to make our brand special and give our designs in a timeless forward-facing look.

We are a multi-generational family of artisans and craftsmen, we honor the Mexican traditions of handmade leather goods and luxury items by promoting and creating a community of individuals that hones the embodiment of our spirit. This mission allows us to create greater respect and improved conditions for luxury artisans while driving a deeper understanding of international manufacturing.

Out of respect for our mission, we have made important commitments: We only source leathers from ethical tanneries that use organic vegetable tans and dyes, we pay our artisans dignifying salaries and we remove the pressure of producing large quantities while risking the quality of their craft and lives. Our commitments make sure all our labor comes from family-owned workshops with safe, sanitary, and high-quality conditions.

We will continue to collaborate with our workshops and invest our profits in reducing the carbon footprint of leather goods manufacturing in Leon, Guanajuato, and will always focus on delivering ultra-luxe legacy pieces that individuals can be proud to wear for generations to come.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Jose Luis: Initially, it was a challenge to be proudly showcasing that our products are handmade in Mexico. Early in our conception many boutiques and people expected cheap, low quality products based on our tagline. It has been interesting to see how little by little, one person at a time, we are contributing to change the perception of Mexican products and most importantly of our country. Our hope is to continue this mission to make deeper changes in the perceptions of luxury Mexican artistry and experiences.

Jose-Noel: “For me, as the first generation of J.L. Rocha In the United States, I was somewhat removed from the hands-on production process engrained in our family history. It was a challenge at the start to pick up these skills in both English and Spanish, but while gaining knowledge marketing, design, and entrepreneurial skills: I’ve learned volumes on leather production while growing closer to my family history. Today I have a deeper appreciation for my geographical roots, and continue to grow in my appreciation for the true value of artisan craft.”

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Jose Luis: We believe it’s important to share our story. For me: our story started 40 years ago when I was fresh out of design school and ready to make my first collection. My first Boss in Leon told me: “we don’t create fashion in here, we copy what the client wants from Italy or any other country” this discouraged me so much that I wanted nothing to do with leather until ten years ago, when I found myself in a position where I could make what we wanted and sell directly to the final consumer in the most important market in the world: The United States. That is when our brand was born.

While I am proud of everything we create, what makes me most proud is to be able to partner with my son Jose-Noel. Together we combine my old years of growing up in Mexico with his development in this country; his being born and raised in San Diego gives him a vision of the world that is different than mine, and ultimately it is the combination of our unique perspectives that makes our brand special.

Jose-Noel: I think it’s important to know that what we do comes from a place of love, family, and the knowledge of what amazing things can come when you place your passion on quality. We have always loved and experienced in the positive impact of the luxury offerings that Mexico provides: and want to communicate their existence and value. We are a Mexican family living their mission and caring for both of our homes.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Jose Luis: One of my favorite memories is going to the atelier with my grandfather and the smell of leather that came with it. The memory is something that has never abandoned my mind or my heart. Besides that, I love when the family gets together, my father has 11 brothers and sisters and together we are almost 60 immediate family members – our dinners can easily convert into a party any time, and the level of love and sharing is like no other feeling.

Jose-Noel: Our family trips to Mexico that have always been my favorite memories, but I will never forget my first ‘job’ as a kid, when my father would let me shine his shoes for $2 per pair. He would sit with me and we would talk while I worked hard on all the details to give his shoes an exceptional look – definitely a key memory in sparking my love for the luxury design.

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