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Shortly after receiving an order for ten pairs of handmade, custom shoes for Justin Bieber, Dominic Chambrone, also known as “The Shoe Surgeon,” threw himself out a two-story window. The twenty-five year-old Santa Rosa, California native recounts the events leading up to that day with surprising poise and self-deprecation, twisting his mustache and tapping his toe when the details become intense. But before we cut to the heart of the story, you should know who The Shoe Surgeon is.
Chambrone grew up in Northern California wine country. His parents owned a restaurant and he spent a lot of time there as a kid, but realized early on that the family business wasn’t for him. “I started messing with my kicks when I was about sixteen,” he says. “I was the guy people asked for when they needed something. Hall passes, party info, whatever. Then it turned into me taking their shoes and making them different or unique.” Chambrone says he has always been fascinated by footwear, going out of his way to make sure he had the new Jordans or Nike SB’s before anyone else. But for a high school kid without a lot of money, collecting the hottest kicks around became expensive… so he started making them himself.
At first Chambrone began hand-painting or gluing accents and details onto ordinary shoes for himself and his friends. When word of his budding craft spread, he became known as “The Shoe Guy.” Later, as his hobby became an art, and eventually a legitimate business, Chambrone dubbed himself “The Shoe Surgeon.” He says, “I call myself that because that’s what I am. I take something that’s plain or busted and I make it better.”
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