Q & A with Rockin’ L Designs Owner-Charles Lee
Why did you decide to start the Rockin' L Designs business?
I suppose first of all would be my love for the old ‘West’ and because I have created western items from metal and horseshoes for over 50 years. I ran my own business making horse and cattle trailers, corral panels, hay feeding rings, etc for 20+ years, but during that time made horseshoe creations as gifts for family and friends. I was encouraged by my family and friends to take some of my creations to trade shows because they felt many people would like to have these for their home. I enjoyed and appreciated the feedback from people about my creativity so much and that encouraged me to start the family business. I started Rockin’ L Designs in 1992 and have continued to add new and interesting items, as well as having had the opportunity to sell my merchandise in numerous shows in many states. My shop and showroom are next door to my home in Omaha, TX. The showroom has a lot of product and I would love to have you come visit, just remember my hours are a little non-regular so try calling. If we are home we will open gladly, just knock on our back door.
What makes your creations so unique?
I have been welding for 50+ years and this can be seen in the products I create. I have had a unique ability to visualize the completed product before beginning the job. The final product is recognized by the customer as what they had described for me to build. When creating items, most of the creations are made from old reused farm items. All horseshoe creations are from used horseshoes. I regularly use as many used horseshoes as I am able to find. I am also using cedar wood in my larger furniture pieces.
Where do you get the ideas for your creations?
Most are my ideas or a friend or someone will mention an idea they have to me or I see something that triggers my creativity and I come up with something totally different. The first few years I was constantly creating something different, my wife said I dreamed up the ideas at night and was out of bed first thing in the morning and out to the shop to put my prototype together.
What is the most important ability needed to create your products?
To be able to visualize and create the picture in your mind that the customer has described and/or sketched.
Do you ship out of the U.S.?
We only ship in the lower 48 states.
Where in the world is Omaha, TX?
A small place between Dallas and Texarkana, just south of I-30. We are about 15 miles East of Mt. Pleasant and 50 miles North of Longview, TX.
Why do you use the heavy paper shades on your lamps?
We find these shades are sturdy and long lasting so we feel we can put an attractive western look shade on our lights and sell the piece for a lesser price, which makes a better deal for you.
Where do you find your old wheels and other farm and ranch items you use in handcrafting your products?
I’m always looking for these items in Antique stores, Junk and Thrift stores, Yard Sales, Flea Markets, etc. and I have become friends with some of these buyers, so they keep me in mind when they’re out looking and buying.
Roy Rogers was/is a 'hero' to you. Are you a collector?
Yes, I do have a few things. One special thing, an original Roy Rogers Child’s Saddle in perfect condition. When his daughter, Cheryl Rogers Barnett saw it, she wanted to buy it. She said she had never seen one for sale.
You have mentioned using horseshoes and old farm and ranch items, when did you start using cedar wood for making your larger furniture pieces and why cedar?
Oh, several years ago, don’t remember just when. I like the character of cedar, the different shades and shapes of the wood and it’s also grown in TX.
This is a family business. Do you employ anyone outside your family?
Yes, I usually will have 1 or 2 people who help out, but not usually on a full time basis. Sometimes I work 60+ hours a week. It’s hard finding good dependable help.
In all your years what 2-3 items have been your best sellers? Are they still selling?
In the beginning I started with smaller items and the cowboy salt & pepper set and the single horseshoe picture frame have been and still are great sellers for us.?
I see the 'Praying Cowboy' around, do you and your family attend Cowboy Church?
Yes, we enjoy the Cowboy Church in Omaha, TX very much. If you should be around come on by Bar Nun Cowboy Ministries on Hwy. 259 S.
I see you sell on line through Etsy, in the Rodeo/Livestock Show in Houston, TX, the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville, KY, the Market in Canton, TX and the Mall in Longview, TX. Have you done other shows?
Yes, many over the years, as well as sell from our large showroom right here in Omaha. We were at the NFL Finals in Vegas for 10 years, Several years at the San Antonio Rodeo, Fort Worth Rodeo, Round Top, TX , AQHA Congress in OK City, State Fair in MN and others. We decided we were on the road too much and decided we needed to cut back.