The Shoe Surgeon: 'Now, I feel successful'
Custom sneaker star Dominic Ciambrone a.k.a 'The Shoe Surgeon' invited friends, family and partners to celebrate his 36th birthday and the grand opening of The SRGN Studios, The Shoe Surgeon’s new headquarters. A place that brings together the company’s offices, customization workshops, a retail space for VIP customers and guests, and a real basketball court formalizing the creation of the Surgeon League. In a good natured atmosphere, a sort of carnival where you can enjoy sandwiches, cocktails and leave with a personalized T-shirt, the designer, more tattooed than ever, talks about his news, his career and his projects.
FashionNetwork.com: You are launching SRGN Studios today, can you explain to us what this place is all about?
Dominic Ciambrone: SRGN Studios has been something that I have always been working on since I was a kid. The idea of sharing a space for other people to be able to create. I grew up playing soccer; Dallas Imbimbo, my business partner, grew up playing basketball. Therefore, sports and team spirit mean something for us. I really wanted to create something that goes beyond me. Something more close to an experience where you can take care of other people. An immersive space to be able to curate different things with.
FNW: What are you going to organize here?
DC: We are inviting our customers to participate in our masterclasses and teach them the secrets of customization, a concept that really works everywhere in the world, from Paris fashion weeks to Amsterdam. We also are going to launch our SRGN basketball league, our SRGN football league, we have a private bar for our special guests, we have a private lounge, work areas, customization stations, retail experience, private VIP experience.
FNW: Your passion started in a garage with a sewing machine. You are now the leader in customized sneakers with around thirty employees, how do you view your career?
DC: I think it has been a beautiful evolution of striving to be perfect and finding myself in perfectly perfect, and being able to do it through my art; not just as a shoe maker, but as an artist in general, because I started as a kid making things, building things with my hands, clothing… and now it allows me to be the voice and build something with concrete things.
FNW: How are you structured today?
DC: We have about 35 people on the team. We are a family, they all play the business to be successful. My business partner is helping me to be able to sustain the creativity that I have. Outside the U.S. market, the Asian market with Japan and China is very strong as well as the UK. We have fans all around the world who help us grow.
FNW: Do you feel successful today?
DC: I think success is different for every person, depends on each person’s perspective. For a long time, I didn’t feel successful, but now I do believe I’m successful in the sense I get to afford to be creative, to make money with it and also just be able to have a nice living and to be able to be with my kids. I drop them off my son every day at school and pick him up every day, that’s a big part of a successful life. Of course, we always gonna strive to do better but it’s a success in terms of how many life we have been able to touch from teaching and creating shoes and art that people love.
FNW: You have collaborated with the biggest stars -- from Justin Bieber to Lebron James -- and given masterclasses all over the world. How do you keep your feet on the ground?
DC: I’m grateful to have such a great business partner, he helped me bring my vision to life over the past five years. I get to stay creative and I’m so grateful. I get to build this with him and spend time with my kids. They keep me grounded. And I love being a father, I love showing them they can create and they can build anything if they want to.
FNW: What is your process for creating?
DC: The process is constantly changing and evolving. I started by bringing things to life, having an idea in my head and physically building it, and now I get to sketch with the team, to create all what we want at any time. I love materials, looking and touching materials. Nature inspires me and kids too.
FNW: Taking care of yourself, finding the balance is part of the game too?
DC: I still want to evolve and grow up and the most important thing is also to continue to work on myself and continuing learn about self-love and giving that to myself. I translate that into my work. It’s all about finding healthy outlets to maintain, to continue to push forward. There is so many unhealthy things in this world, that it’s important to find a balance by finding is own way, as meditation, reading or breathing exercises, it’s learning to be calm within the storm and madness. I’m grateful that I have a great team. They help carry the stress together.
FNW: You are supporting different organizations related to mental health -- a connexion with your personal story?
DC: I grew up with a lot of mental challenges. We have done a collaboration with the Dr Brandt Foundation to help spread awareness for mental health. We were also making custom shoes and giving them to homeless people who need them. Our shoes keep us grounded and keep our feet safe. I try to give back how much as I can.
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