One of my best friends Lorena Agolli is the owner of Sole Survivor, a shoe repair and leather goods shop in Kensington Market. She opened in 2013 and is one of the few female cobblers in the world. Lorena has made it her mission to give women a space to learn this craft and apprentice with her; something she found difficult when she was aspiring to be a cobbler herself and found it was a male-dominated industry. This shop is one of the most unique places you’ll find in the city, so if you live in Toronto definitely drop in with your next shoe repair.
She’s a pro when it comes to her craft and working with leather, but even if you’re vegan don’t be shy about going to sole survivor for your repair needs. They’re equipped and ready to work with your vegan shoes and have no problem with the special requests to use vegan friendly products and materials. “We can use vegan friendly materials such as rubber or foam products instead of leather for some repairs and we have glue and other products that are also vegan,” Lorena said. She added “when you bring a repair into sole survivor just mention this request at the time of drop off and it won’t be a problem!”
So with this in mind, I thought it would be great for Lorena to share some tips on caring for our shoes throughout the winter and what to keep in mind when it comes to our non-leather footwear!
Lorena advises all of us in the great white north to frequently remove salt stains from our winter boots, as it eats away the material. “On both leather and non-leather you can use equals parts water and white vinegar on the salt stains,” she says.
“Coconut oil is good for conditioning leather shoes,” she says, “but if they’re made from synthetic materials conditioning isn’t something that’s necessary. You just need to clean your shoes which you can do with equal parts rubbing alcohol and water. Depending on the material though, rubbing alcohol may take away some of the sheen or colour of the material, which you might have to replenish with a shoe polish or you can use coconut oil to darken up the material again.”
Got scuffs or scratches from your shoes? Lorena suggests “rubbing vaseline onto them with your finger. Then use a buffer of some kind like a sham wow or lint free cloth to remove it. The scuff will be less noticeable.”
For some reason Lorena has no problem sticking her hands and face into other people’s smelly shoes all day. Me? Well, I wouldn’t be able to handle it! But she did want to pass on this last tip. She said, “if you have smelly feet you can wash them with water and lemon juice. And water and lemon is also good to help turn runners white again if you let them dry in the sun.”
There you have it. I bet you didn’t know any of that handy shoe care stuff and you can do it all from home! But worn heels, broken zippers, split soles or any other shoe problems need extra TLC. So make sure you take your footwear to Lo at Sole Survivor and she’ll fix you right up.