Shoes and bags made to order
About five years ago, Carson Cumberbatch needed a pair of shoes and decided to make them.
“I used to repair shoes for a long time and I needed a pair of slippers for myself because I was wearing enclosed shoes. I used to fix things for other guys so I would see how they were making them. A friend of mine helped me with one pattern for the inner sole and that’s how I did the first pair,” the owner of Catori’s told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
Even before Cumberbatch opened his Bridgetown store or made his first pair of shoes, he was working with them.
“I couldn’t get a job. I finished school and I was working at a supermarket. I had a friend who got a job repairing shoes and while he was there working months later they wanted someone else to dye shoes so I went up there and learned to repair the shoes also. Then I continued from there. I was repairing shoes for a little while.
“I got a job at Harrison’s where I met this lady named Ms Lynton who was the manager of the store at the old Hilton. I was laid off from there and a while after she was also [laid off], then we met again about a year after and she came with some shoes to get repaired at the shop where I was working.
“There was this guy who was selling a shoe repair shop, she introduced me to the guy and that is how I got my first business,” he said.
Cumberbatch’s customers can attest to the fact that his handcrafted shoes are well made and look like the fine leather of some of the top international brands.
“I pay a lot of attention to detail because from a background of repairing shoes for many years, you would see how the brand name shoes were done, how the good ones and the bad ones were constructed. By pulling them back together, you would get an idea of what goes into making a shoe that lasts,” he said.
He also makes bags and noted that it was his wife who got him started.
“I used to repair bags for Harrison’s and for private people, so I got the ins and outs of the bags [and] I started from there. I became a client of the [Barbados Investment and Development Corporation] and they sent me to Colombia a couple years ago and I was taught the finer things of shoe manufacturing, and bag making. I learnt a good set of stuff down there and it would be good to go back and learn some mroe,” he said.
He is passing some of that knowledge on to about 20 others, as he started teaching a course at the Barbados Community College two weeks ago.
Cumberbatch said that these days, the shop is always busy as people bring “a lot of stuff to repair and are making orders now”.
“Most of my shoes are made to order, but I make shoes to sell at my shop, at Andromeda or sometimes I go to Hastings Farmers’ Market, and I’m looking hopefully to get into one or two stores and I’ll see how it goes from there,” he said.
Cumberbatch intends to take Catori’s, which is named after his two daughters Cara and Tori, to the world. (Green Bananas Media)