Larry Shoes by Jessi katz


Writing a bio is too awkward, so I did a Q & A with myself instead:

What's the goal here?

To make cool shoes comfortable, and comfortable shoes cool. We're manufacturing the shoes ourselves, using excess stock from the few remaining USA based leather tanneries for our upper leather, and other materials from the O & P (orthotics and prosthetics) industry suppliers for soles. We keep the prices as low as possible by skipping the retail model, and selling directly to customers. 

How did you start making shoes?

It started with an accident. I fell down the stairs during my last year of university, and my right foot never healed. If I wanted to get out of a walking boot, I needed to wear sensible & supportive orthopedic shoes with custom orthoses. The one (one!) pair of shoes I had to wear for the next year are precious to me, but it's purely sentimental. They're really ugly. I did extensive research into the orthopedic market, but I couldn't find anything resembling an acceptable orthopedic style (to my eye/no offense to anyone with different tastes than mine). The young man working at his family's shoe repair on 2nd Ave & 91st St got pretty annoyed with me when I kept coming by to beg him to teach me how to make my shoes fit better. He told me to get lost, but not before pointing me in the direction of the Jewish Community Center's night classes in shoemaking. I fell in love with it, and six months later, I quit my day job to take an internship in footwear design. There's a video of a young me around this time in 2010, at an adorable and filthy East Village apartment, proclaiming that her dream was to make the world's first brand of cool orthopedic shoes. Anyway, I took a job in product development for a huge footwear corporation, and after refilling my piggy bank, I flew off to Florence, Italy to complete my Masters in Advanced Fashion Footwear and Bag Design. Fast forward, and I was back in NY handmaking shoes and bags when another accident rendered my right hand injured and useless. Trust me when I say that you really need your right hand to make things - any things. I was down in the dumps with my hand in a cast, but I dusted myself off and took the opportunity to finally study Pedorthics and orthopedic foot care. An apprenticeship with a Pedorthist helped remind me how badly good quality, beautiful orthopedic & comfort shoes are wanted by all. I called in help and pulled it together. So I'd say the first accident was the catalyst, but the second accident sealed the deal. 

How and where are you making these sandals?

Assembly for ready-to-wear sandals is being done by some very talented (and badass) women shoemaker colleagues at a local workshop. Everything is handled in NYC, Brooklyn, and NJ. Custom shoes are fabricated with special materials, each case requiring a special consultation and fitting with me. Custom sandals are made at a workshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

Why is it called Larry?

It's a nickname, after Mr. David. Probably because of the glasses (not shown in photo), the shoes, and some highly neurotic behaviors (also not shown in photo). 

Anything else to add?

I am extremely friendly, and happy to answer footwear related questions anytime. Please feel free to send me an email, even about things you think are trivial. I'll probably find them interesting!