Friday, 18 May 2012

Shoe Entrepreneur

I'm not a shoe guy, but I do love this story of entrepreneurial achievement.

Ferragamo started as a bootmaker for Hollywood films, found some of his customers still found the boots uncomfortable, went to the University of Southern California to learn about anatomy and weight distribution, then invented arch support.

Go read the whole thing. And think about economic geography. Hollywood provided base demand for the product, high end clientele to buy his private designs, and a university where Ferragamo could pick up the skills he found he needed to improve his product. As an immigrant, he maintained ties to Italy and went back there to combine adapted American production techniques with cheaper artesianal skilled labour and developed something entirely new for export back to America.

HT: @Isegoria, whose Twitter feed most regularly delivers me delights I'd not otherwise seen. #FF


  1. A man is cleaning up his house, and in the bottom drawer of a cabinet he finds an aged paper slip.
    It is an acknowledgement for a pair of shoes he sent to the boot maker 35 years ago.
    He is astonished to find in the telephone book, but not Internet, that the same boot maker is
    still in business.
    He plots; and then he walks back into the old Bootmaker’s shop, and hands over the acknowledgement form.

    The cobbler shoe maker puts on his glasses.
    There is a silence between the Joker and the cobbler.
    The Cobbler takes off his glasses and says to the joker.

    “Your shoes will be ready on Tuesday”

  2. Love stories like that as well! Just as a side note, the issue with Italy now is that these small manufacturers who focus on high-end quality products are definitely under threat from China.