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About

Jeff Churchill Master Shoemaker + Designer Jitterbug Boy
Published:
The Shoemaker

"Every day I learn something, sometimes by doing something right and more often by doing something wrong." - Jeff Churchill

Master Shoemaker + Designer
Jitterbug Boy

"I love solving problems. I love figuring things out. I love physically making something, working hard all day and having a something on your table at the end of the day or week. And, to be quite frank, I like being really, really good at something. I put a lot of myself in everything I make. Every day I learn something, sometimes by doing something right and more often by doing something wrong." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer (at right)
"Fate [got me into this], really. After an incredibly short and unsuccessful career as a set and costume designer, I left theatre and started working on a farm. Out of the blue I got a call from someone I had worked with in Toronto asking if I would be willing to work as shoe coordinator for Lion King. That was in 1998, I think. I needed the money so I took the job and moved back to Toronto. Falling in love with shoes was a surprise for me." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"Last year we made about 850 pairs of handmade custom shoes for the arts. Shoes, on average, take around 15 or 20 hours a piece to make, so when you do the math, we spent about 15,000 hours on shoes last year." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"There are 6 of us at present. Me, Laura (my shop lead), Deb (lead stitcher), William, and Jenna. And Angela deals with a lot of the administrative stuff. There isn't much work for this type of thing in Canada anymore, so it's a pretty small pond to be swimming in." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"I've occasionally toyed with the idea of getting more into the fashion shoe industry, but I'm not sure if it's for me. If I had to choose something else I would probably lean towards something on the design side of things - maybe in costumes for film or maybe designing shoes for other people. Really, I see doing what I'm doing for a while, but life has been pretty unpredictable these past 37 years, so we'll see what happens." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"[I could do without] the chemicals. Some of the glues and things are fairly toxic but necessary. I'd love to figure out how to make shoes in a way that is less reliant on chemicals." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"I just made a pair of boots for Armie Hammer in the upcoming Tarsem Singh film, <i>Snow White</i>. They are, hands down, the best pair of footwear I've ever made. They took forever and were incredibly technical to get everything to work properly, but I was incredibly proud of the final product. The fact that the designer (Eiko Ishioka) is incredibly cool and let me have a fair bit of creative input on them helped, too. I can't wait to see them on the big screen." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"The shoes I make for myself definitely have a period influence but with an odd twist. There was a certain class and cleanliness to Edwardian shoes that influences my work. But most of what I make is for other people, so my style changes to meet theirs." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"We have done shows all over the world - Macau, Tokyo, throughout Europe and the UK, Las Vegas, New York, and all over Canada. I made shoes for both Seigfried and Roy for their final performance a few years ago in Las Vegas - that's one of the more bizarre places they've travelled. And the shoes I've made for myself have seen some pretty great places." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"Every day is different - different shoes, different challenges." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"The first pair of shoes I ever bought with my own money was a pair of monkeyboots. I bought them at a little store down on Queen Street West, near the Rex. I think it's a convenience store now. There wasn't a sign outside the store, but I always knew the place as Reckless. I really wanted a pair of Docs but couldn't afford them." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"I love this shop, even though the place stresses me out greatly some days. I love walking in first thing in the morning, when it's dark and quiet and smells good.

While I don't necessarily like working on the weekends, there's something great about having the space to myself - I spread work over all the tables and listen to music really loudly. I feel that's when I'm most creative and productive. I also like sitting on the fire escape and having a cup of coffee." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer
"I hate having to run the business side of things. I hate being a boss. Don't get me wrong - I love my crew. They are amazing. It's just that I'd rather make shoes all day. But, to do what I love, I have to run the business." - Jeff Churchill, Master Shoemaker + Designer