Dr Jekyll and Mr Shoemaker

I am a very different person on one side of my workshop door than I am on the other – I freely admit that.  There’s a bit of a Jekyll / Hyde transformation that happens when I enter work-mode.  Outside of my atelier, it’s about life. Inside, it’s about the work. It’s about focus.  And it’s about the fact that everything that takes place within the walls of this room affect and are affected by me.  There is no one above me that I report to, other than our clients.  And so, as a result, whether it’s to do with getting a shipment of shoes to the other side of the planet on time and in the best possible state or dealing with the bank or making sure the garbage gets out on a Tuesday night, it all comes down to me.  I’m not saying this to garnish sympathy.  It’s just a statement of fact.

One very obvious difference between Jitterbug Boy Jeff and regular world Jeff is that I am wicked impatient when I’m inside the shop.  I’m presently waiting for a box to arrive from England so I can get a shitload of work done over this holiday weekend and it’s turning me inside out that it’s not here yet.  I’m just as impatient with myself when things aren’t coming together as quickly as I feel they should.

I feel like I’m a much nicer person outside the shop, but I say that more from what I see as outside perceptions (I’m happy as hell in my shop, trust – I’m in my element here like nowhere else and get great joy out of my work).  I rarely talk when working, unless it’s giving instructions or giving grief.  It’s not that I don’t like the people around me – I’m blessed with not only a talented crew here, they happen to be a really nice bunch of people as well.

It’s just that, from when I walk through the doors at 7h30 until I lock the door behind me at 19h30 my mind is running in a dozen different directions.  I’ll usually have at least a couple of projects on my work table at any given time – mostly new projects that require a lot of mental effort.  As well as figuring out how to get each and every order out on time.  And making sure there is always something for everyone in the shop to be doing at all times (mercifully, my shop lead Laura has been taking some of this off my shoulders as of late, which has been a huge help).  And insuring there is enough money in the bank to keep my people paid.  And making sure there is enough work coming in three month / six months / nine months down the road.  And whether we have enough people to get everything done within the confines of often ridiculously short deadlines.  And is it garbage day today or recycling?  And do I have time to tune up that sewing machine?  And what about that leather storage that is partially sorted?  And do we have enough of each and every of the thousands (literally) bits and pieces needed to get each of these projects done?  And have I had lunch yet today?  And……

I know, I know – woe is me, eh?  If I truly hated it, I wouldn’t do it.  I love what I do. I’ve never liked being the bossman, but as I’ve said before, it’s the only way to do what it is I do.  And I am passionate about my art.

So, if you come in to my shop in the middle of a day and I seem to me in a less-than-good mood – the reasoning is simple:  every day is an exhausting struggle inside this room – physically, mentally and emotionally.  While I would love to have a little bit more energy to be fun and social, it’s simply not possible.  And while Jekyll may be a lot more fun to hang out with over a beer or a coffee, Hyde makes some fucking nice shoes.

Now then…..where the hell is that box…..

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1 Comment. Leave your Comment right now:

  1. by Donny

    I feel your post…
    It was a pleasure meeting you a while back with Max (AKA Brian).
    Thanks for the advice and secret spots for finding materials and hardware, they were greatly appreciated.
    What you and your team can make, is inspiring. The care for detail shows in the quality items you produce.
    I’ll visit again one day, either the doc or the shoemaker is fine with me. Cheers Donny

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