A few days after moving to Milwaukee for college, Izzy was hired through a local cobbler to be the shoe shiner at the Milwaukee County Courthouse for the summer. When the fall semester at UW Milwaukee started that year, Izzy shifted from days at the chair to evenings at the cobbler shop for a few months.
Izzy’s first chance to see bootblacking in a leather context was seeing the International Mr. Bootblack contest at IML in 2002. It was also during IML 2002 that she was able to bootblack herself for a women’s leather party at a Chicago bar. When she got back home to Milwaukee, she approached a local bar about allowing her to be the bootblack there—the owner mentioned that she would be the first bootblack at a Milwaukee bar in at least a decade. The Harbor Room was her home three nights a week every week for nearly two years. In that time, she competed for and won Great Lakes Bootblack 2003 and International Ms. Bootblack 2004.
In 2011, Izzy got the itch to have a regular home for bootblacking, and approached Stag Barbershop, a classic barbershop specializing in precision men’s grooming, and new to her neighborhood. Response was so positive, Izzy quit her day job in the fall of 2014 to work at Stag full time, and is still active with the Bootblack Community within the Leather community.
Dale: So, I need your class description for the spit shine class the two of you will be tag-team teaching…
Tid Bit: I thought Izzy was writing it
Izzy: I thought Elegant was writing it
Elegant: Why would I be writing it when it’s going to be Izzy and Tid Bit teaching?
Izzy: Because Dale said something about you writing funny class descriptions
Tid Bit: What’s funny about spit shines?
Izzy: What ISN’T funny about spit shines?
Dale: Well, the class description has to mention that the two of you will be co-teaching, because you’ve got two very different styles. So you will be showing how two different approaches can still reach the same goal.
Tid Bit: I think you just wrote our class description.
Izzy: I’m glad that’s out of the way.
“Patina” is no longer just the natural aging process of leather shoes, it is now the artistic recreation and enhancement of this effect. Hand painted patina is its own art form across Europe and Japan, generally reserved for high end bespoke footwear. But hand painted patina can be a great way to transform something old into something new. Crack open a couple jars of dye, grab your fan brush, and learn the basics of creating patina finishes with Izzy