If you head over to First Pick Handmade in the Main Street Heritage Hall today, you’ll find Amy Slosky, one of the talented artisans selling their creations.
i. I work as a designer, shoemaker and founder of a small handmade shoe start-up. I design and make limited collections of ready to wear and made to order shoes for men and women.
ii. I do this creative work because:
It allows me to create something of beauty from a few raw materials. Shoes have this ability to not only elevate your look; they can transform the way you feel. I’ve always been fascinated by how shoes can tell a story.
iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
My patience and dedication have always allowed me to stay the course and see things through. I’m definitely a perfectionist. I hold my work to a very high standard, which you need to do when a pair of shoes can take over 40 hours to make.
iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
In North America, we are so disconnected from what we buy and where it comes from. We’ve only ever known how to shop on convenience and price, so it’s no wonder ‘handmade’ is a foreign concept to so many. It can be a real struggle to explain the value in handmade goods.
v. Creative childhood hobbies:
I played a lot of sports growing up, so I was a busy, active kid. I enjoyed being outside and exploring. I dabbled in art, but was never that great at it. I was a curious child; still am.
vi. Other creators who inspire you:
The Bata shoe museum in Toronto had an exhibit of Roger Vivier works that were creatively awe-inspiring. Ferragamo has also been a source of historical inspiration as he was a true innovator. Currently, I’m pretty obsessed with Gucci for its mix of lux campy style and gender bending vibe.
vii. Training that has helped me succeed in this career:
I owe everything I know about shoemaking to the master Angelo Imperatrice. I had the privilege of studying with him for four years in Florence, Italy. Angelo, now in his 70s, started working at the family’s shoemaking shop when he was a young boy. With over 60 year of experience, he’s the real deal. Before I found shoemaking, I had a career in marketing, so that experience has served me well in the development of my business.
viii. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
Well, personally, I’ve faced a lot of resistance from people due to the approach I’ve taken with making by hand and the slower output that that brings. The first concern people express is how are you going to make any money doing that. So, maybe less of a trap and more of a conscientious choice to follow your own path rather than bend your vision to what others deem successful.
ix. Some proud career moments:
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to design six models as part of a limited collection for a private footwear label in Florence. The collection debuted at MICAM, the leading international footwear fair in Milan, Italy. My models were ordered by buyers from exclusive department stores in Tokyo and Hong Kong along with other independent stores. It was an honour just to be part of MICAM but to receive the recognition and interest from buyers was the catalyst that kick-started the development of my brand.
x. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
Have patience. There are only a handful of shoemakers left so it can be hard to find an opportunity locally to learn the trade. Like any trade, it takes years of practice before you can call yourself a master craftsmen. It really comes down to how badly you want it. Being a shoemaker is hard work.
xi. A professional goal I have for the future:
To be part of Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy. Pitti Uomo is the crème de la crème of men’s fashion week, and twice a year Florence is bursting with the most beautifully dressed men and women. Being a lover of menswear, I would sit for hours on Via Tournabuoni admiring the event goers. If you’re invited to show at Pitti Uomo, it doesn’t get much better.
xii. If you want to see my work, go to:
My website Amy Slosky Website or social media A Slosky Instagram. I will also be at the First Pick Handmade show at Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street, September 15thand 16th.
Bata Shoe Museum in Creators Vancouver
Header: A Pair of Boots. Vincent Van Gogh. 1887