As part of our new series, Factory Friday, we sat down with Shoe Room Charge Hand Julie for a quick chat about shoes, her 10 years with Cheaney and blue hair (of course).
What are some of your favorite aspects of your job?
Working with a high end quality product and the fashion industry intrigues me. Watching the shoes go through the process of the shoe room is amazing, I see them come in in their natural state and then the highlights are brought out, they are burnished, antiqued, the cream is added and you see them ending up as the final product our customers receive. You take a natural shoe and turn it into something that looks completely different.
Although Julie is an extremely talented craftswoman and can turn her hand to every machine and process in the shoe room with admirable finesse, we asked her what her biggest learning curve was in the shoe room.
Antiquing as its such a delicate process. I started as utility, jumping in whenever I was needed in the different areas of the shoe room and pushing the shoes round the process so I learned a lot but antiquing is the one that sticks out in my mind as being the biggest learning curve.
There are 15 people total working in the shoe room; we asked Julie what she enjoyed most about working as a part of this small, close knit team.
There is always banter to be had. Don’t get me wrong, when we have a lot of work to push around the room, we get our heads down we work hard but the atmosphere is always very easy going, everyone knows what they are doing and everyone knows each other really well so we have good banter and a bit of a laugh.
What major changes have you noticed in the shoe room over the past 10 years?
Many of the processes that we use are the same as they were decades ago, we’ve just fine tuned them and made them our own. I have noticed a big change in the colours though. It used to be black shoes and brown shoes and that was the bulk of what came through. But now there are lots more colours and finishes and because of the fashion industry progressing and evolving, the work can be more intricate with finer details. The grains especially and the two tones have longer and more delicate processes in the shoe room.
How many pairs of Cheaney shoes do you own and which is your favourite?
I own 6 pairs of Cheaneys but it’s hard to choose a favorite. I’m a big fan of boots, especially the Scott boots which have fur lining and are so, so comfortable, especially in the winter.
Finally, is the hair changing colour or are you staying with blue?
(laughs) No no, I’m staying with blue. I’ve had pink, red, red AND blue and I think the blue is my favorite.
Julie with her favorite, the Scott fur lined derby boot