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UA Alumnus Defies Obstacles, Starts Company

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Kevin Snyder

UA alumnus Eric Jones packages a pair of shoes for his business, Like Father Like Son, on Sept. 21.

 

Updated

In his Fayetteville apartment, a UA alum sketches his latest men’s shoe design while listening to “Sunroof,” by musical artist Boogie.

Eric Jones, 22, graduated in December 2016 from the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences with a degree in apparel merchandising and product development.

Jones is from the eastern Arkansas town of Helena. While he now lives in Fayetteville, he claims growing up in a rough neighborhood made him want to be better than his surroundings.

“Helena is my home, but I wanted something more. I wanted to be something greater,” Jones said.

He said his hometown is a place where gang violence was a recurrent issue, and feeling unsafe was normal.

Jones never wanted any part of that life. After being robbed at his original high school and being forced to transfer, he worked hard academically so that he could attend the UofA and make a better life for himself.

Although Jones lived a tough life at home, sometimes dealing with rats and roaches that would crawl in and out of holes in the wall of his bedroom, his mother did the best she could.

“You can’t look like what you go through, or what you’ve been through. You always need to look your best,” Jones said.

This is something his mother always told him when he was growing up, which Jones said inspired him to dress well.

Because he grew up taking pride in his appearance, apparel is something Jones always saw himself doing in the future.

During his junior year at the UofA, he decided he wanted to start a shoe company. Jones did not have the finances to start the company he wished for, but his mother Gloria Robinson lent him the money to begin living out his dreams.

In December 2015, Jones created Like Father Like Son shoes. Jones said he wanted to create a company that makes shoes that could be seen on a father or a son, a generation young or old.

Less than a year after Jones’ mother loaned him the money to begin LFLS, she died unexpectedly.

“Without Mom, I wouldn’t have a company. She’s the one who started all of this and she never even got to see me sell my first pair of shoes,” Jones said.

Jones used this tragic event to push himself to create the best company that he could.

After dealing with a few hardships early on in his production process for his shoes, Jones really found his footing when a factory in Brazil reached out to him and wanted to produce his custom designs. Jones chose to work with the company, and he said it is the best choice he could have made. He works one-on-one with the factory and is involved in every aspect of the production of his shoes. Jones said this has helped to create a better quality shoe for his customers.

“Once you’ve lost everything, you have nothing left to lose, so I just keep pushing and praying and keeping the faith that what’s meant to be will be,” Jones said.

Brandon Watts of B. Watts Photography has known Jones for several years, and the two have developed both a personal and professional relationship. Watts takes many photos for Jones that help him promote LFLS.

Watts says that while watching Jones lose his mother was heartbreaking, the way he has used the pain of losing her to push him further in his career is inspiring.

“Eric works everyday to better himself and to better his brand. He’s doing everything it takes to be successful. And everything he’s doing is for her,” Watts said.

While Jones is focused solely on men’s shoes, he eventually hopes to venture into women’s shoes as well.

“I just want to stick to one thing right now and really focus on the men’s shoes and perfect my craft. Once I feel that I’ve perfected it, I would love to move into the women’s segment,” Jones said.

The LFLS Fall/Winter collection will be arriving at the beginning of October. There are seven different color and style options that range in price from $140-$200. These shoes can be purchased by visiting lflsshoes.com.

2 images

Kevin Snyder

UA alumnus Eric Jones packages a pair of shoes for his business, Like Father Like Son, on Sept. 21.