Self Made People : Shoe Artistry Hongkong
Words by Reyna Clarissa
Self Made People is a regularly updated story from Indoestri Makerspace where we feature inspiring people, designers, makers, and thinkers who share the same spirit with us and have become a part of our community in Indoestri.
When we found out that we will be collaborating with a Hong Kong-based leather shoe business and workshop, Shoe Artistry, we immediately got in touch with the inspiring couple, Jeff and Kit, discussing about the classes, their schedule and so on. We then hosted our very first international guest lecture series: Shoe Design & Shoe Making with Shoe Artistry starting from June 23 to July 4, 2015. All classes were sold out as we got some amazing feedbacks from the participants. And now as they've probably gone back to their routines in Hong Kong, we'll be sharing about their stories in our latest Self Made People series.
Shoe Artistry is based on the 40-years-old handmade leather shoe business "Ming Kee Shoes" in Jordan, Hong Kong, and further developed its customer service, branding, business operation and shoe design in order to revitalise this heritage and bring it back to live. Beside shoe production, this couple of admireable business partners expressed their fondness in sharing their knowledge to other people.
Long before Shoe Artistry, Jeff was a lecturer in a design institution while helping to develop school curriculum and Kitwas jewelry designer. They admitted that handmade shoe-making was not their forte initially, but their willingness to learn and share at the same time is what has brought them to where they are today with Shoe Artistry. Promoting the value of craftsmanship, they introduced public to what our hands are capable of doingthrough workshops and their specialized shoe production. As modern people have become more and more glued to virtual reality, they believe that it is crucial for young generation to understand handiwork as a movement.
Here’s a little Q&A with Jeff Yan and Kit Lee about shoes and their life in general.
R : Reyna Clarissa
J&K : Jeff Wan and Kit Lee
R : Why did you choose shoes as your medium to promote the idea of craftsmanship?
J&K : Everything goes together in shoes. It involves economics, function, materials, construction, aesthetic, even customer servicesince we are doing customized shoes so we need to understand what’s going on with it. It is very complex but at the same time there’s a lot of knowledge behind it.That’s why we think shoemaking is attractive. It’s not just for a good looking quality but also for comfort.
R : Can I know what’s your favorite part in shoemaking personally?
J&K : Lasting. The part where you put the leather onto the moldthat gives the shape of the shoe. Suddenly, it becomes alive! For the advanced class, I do enjoy maintaining the tools and using them to help me. It is a great process.
R : How long have you guys been busy with Shoe Artistry?
J&K : Four years altogether. But we did not start with the workshops right away.
R : What inspired you to finally initiate the workshops?
J&K : Lots of peole were asking for it. We do like sharing and we think doing workshops is another way to have a business whilealso educating people about the value of handmade shoes, what is craftsmanship and the process of making. Modern people are used to their screens and keyboards that they don't work with materials. Hands are wasted -- which is why we support this culture of going back to the basic and handiwork.
People realized that there is something more than sitting in front of a computer or going to shopping malls to buy a product, go home and use it. They rather spend the time learning the knowledge and enjoying the experience to appreciate both the process and what comes out of it. They might not be perfect for the first time but it's different - they don't just get a product. It is more like fullfilment than satisfaction. After learning it, they now have the experience and always remember the knowledge as they twink twice next time when they have free time. We support that!
R : Do you still remember your very first workshops? How was it?
J&K : I felt anxious and nervous. I couldn't sleep the whole night. The very first class Shoe Pattern Design. I was worried that nobody would join and I made a 3-page script of what I need to talk about.
R : First impression on Indonesia’s class ambience or Indonesia in general?
J&K : I found that Indonesia has potential. The people have potential and the country is so rich in culture and crafts. It's just the investment and hardware are not there however the people are talented.
R : What makes you decide to collaborate with Indoestri Makerspace?
J&K : I think, the wavelength is somewhat similar - we see the same picture and vision. It’s a different scenario in Indonesia. If Indoestri wants to do it in Indonesia, it’s not just about making money. It’s a long time process and bigger vision which is to motivate the younger generation to actually make things happen. Indoestri is willing to put it together creating this platform. It is not clear where the direction should be heading but thre is an organized structure behind it. We respect that and due to that respect, things just fell into places naturally. That's why we are here!
R : Speaking of long term process, can you share with us Shoe Artistry's personal goals?
J&K : We have to advance made to measure, something that’s more than looking good. It is not only about the look but also the well being. Feeling and looking good. And for workshops, we hope different people can come to enjoy the process of making, learning more and making shoes at home eventually. We'd love to venture out to different countries.
There are a lot of home industries in Indonesia and next time I want to spend some time there and perhaps we can do something with those people. Between Hong Kong and Indonesia, between Shoe Artistry and Indoestri Makerspace.
R : Congratulations again for the adorable baby! How has that changed the way you work and hold workshops while needing to travel and all that?
J&K : My assistant runs the workshops for me in Hong Kong so I can look out for my baby. Traveling with a baby has been quite a hassle but so far so good. A good thing about running your own business is that you can manage everything on your own. Busy in a happy way.
Thank you JEff and Kit for sharing your stories and we look forward to seeing you guys again sometimes soon. Yes, keep an eye on your website for further possibilities of another Shoe Design and Making workshops soon!