A common criticism of the ‘Y’ Generation is that we like to throw things away before we take the time and spend the money to fix them. This means not only do we waste more, we also miss out on the beauty and skill involved in being able to fix our favourite possessions. Enter Nick Pascuzzo, the owner of Manly Cobblers. With 22 years experience in shoe craftsmanship, Nick believes strongly in the skill of his traditional trade, but also staying ahead of new trends.
What’s the best part about being a cobbler?
My trade is rapidly becoming a ‘dying art’ and I think generally being part of a skilled trade these days is becoming quite rare. There is much that goes into the anatomy of a shoe. I genuinely believe in what I do and am passionate about quality and craftsmanship. I meet so many new people, hear their stories and get to help these people from all walks of life. Shoes really do tell a story and I am in the enviable position to hear them all.
What led you to this career and when did it all begin?
I kind of fell into this career at the age of 14, whilst still at school. An old family friend who was a master shoemaker from Italy and whom I highly respected, took me on board and taught me the trade. What began as a part time job turned into a career passion. I am lucky enough 25 years later, to be helping keep this fine trade going. The rest is history.
What is your advice to business owners on navigating the ‘online’ boom?
Manly Cobblers is in such a unique position, being that we are an old trade and provide those traditional services yet [are] also keeping [up] with the social media boom. Social media allows us to interact with our customers whilst still upholding the skills, values and services we promise. My advice to business owners would be to stay true in your art, and your business but find a balance that keeps your clientele connected to the business.
Is there a service or product you offer that is a little different? That people mightn’t think a cobbler does?
That’s the beauty of being a Cobbler and exactly why I love what I do. I can offer repairs and even custom work that one may not even think is possible. Anything from making a new strap for a band’s costume headwear or replicating an old leather boot keyring, no two days are the same.
Why is it so important to repair your shoes?
It often goes unnoticed how important shoes are to our overall health and wellbeing. They support us and if our shoes are in bad shape then it has a flow on affect to our health, especially with back and muscle / joint issues. We are fortunate and humbled to be endorsed by Dr David Steven (Bay Chiropractic and an official Chiropractor for 2016 Rio Olympic Games) who shares this belief.
What is the most interesting project or customer you’ve worked with?
There are so many stories to tell it is difficult to highlight one. Yet a valued client who has a love of collecting antique shoes must be mentioned. I am lucky enough to make repairs on these works of art as old as the 1940’s. They really don’t make shoes like this anymore.
What has been the biggest challenge as a business owner so far?
The first step will always be the most difficult. Taking the challenge and going into business for yourself, especially when the judges are out if the community really wants these kinds of dying services. The best advice I can give is to back yourself 100%. If you believe and love what you do, the rest will follow. It’s also very important to keep evolving as a business; whether that means new services, products or initiatives.
You’ve got an exciting new service launching, why did you decide on this approach?
Yes this really is our most exciting venture to date. We’re launching a pickup and delivery service so we can broaden our service area, keep things different, promote the sustainability of shoe repair over fast fashion and allow our customers access to our services without leaving home! By introducing the delivery service we believe we are reintroducing personal service. We are not looking to reinvent industries, merely reestablishing old ones. We want to bring back the values of old fashioned business, Craftsmanship and Service. That’s what Manly Cobblers is all about and feel very proud to be pioneering this service to Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Words: Jess Mackay