His Hands, His Art, His Passion: Sterling Shoe Shines
There is something to be said when a person uses their hands to make a living. That individual hones their craft and becomes an expert in it. It forms a solid foundation to build upon, preparing a work ethic that is second to none. The art of shoe shine is a lost art, and gone are the days of men sitting high in the chair, getting that much needed care to their shoes, reading a paper or talking to the gentleman that uses his hands to bring back that rich color and beautiful shine to those pair of shoes.
Did you know that The Godfather of Soul, James Brown once shined shoes for a living? He used to shine shoes and sing and dance on Ninth Street in Augusta, Georgia. In 1993 that very road was renamed “James Brown Boulevard” in his honor. He used his hands in an honest craft, it laid done the foundation to his iconic legacy.
I got the chance to sit and talk to another powerful brother who too recognizes the talent in his hands. Sterling Green, owner of Sterling’s Shoe Shine shines shoes, repairs them, and even give ladies deep foot massages after a long day at the office or at home. Why, because his mission is that all that sit in his chair are treated like the Kings and Queens that they are!
CD: What was the dream, the concept behind Sterling Shoe Shines?
SG: The dream behind Sterling Shoe Shines; I was always into shoes. I was working for a commercial painting company, and they kept messing up my schedule, so my Queen Sheena Pickett owner of AlphaMale Nailcare, pushed me forward. She asked me, “What do you want to do?” “Why don’t you run your own business?” It just so happened that I was in the House of LeMond and he had some shoes sitting around, so I went and just fixed them up, cleaned them up! Then a customer that Sheena was working with asked if I did custom shoe shine, and I said yes! It just took off from there, and I’m here today, seven months later, I have my own business!
CD: I have to ask you this question because when you think about shoe shines, you think about barbering, and tailoring, the dapper, the finer things that men enjoy. Do you think that it (shoe shines) is a lost art that needs to be revisited?
SG: It’s an art of fashion. I feel like men should always look good. When you go to the barber shop, you keep your hair trimmed, when you go to the clothing store, you want to look good, especially on our feet. In the corporate world, people look at you from head to toe, so I feel that having a shoe shine business would bring more gentlemen in to learn how to take care of their shoes a little better.
CD: So you educate them too on how to take care of their shoes?
SG: Yes sir I do! I tell them that there is a certain way to walk, because if you walk a certain way, leaning.. you can put more damage to your shoes. Take your shoes off when you get home and place them back into the box they came in, your shoes will last longer. My Granddad always taught me that, Charlie Thomas, the singer of The Drifters. He would tell me; “son, take care of your shoes. I’m not going to be spending two to three hundred dollars on shoes for you and you damaging them!” As I got older, I started taking care of my shoes, so why not share that information with others?
CD: What would you tell our younger brothers today about the art of dapperness, the care for your shoes?
SG: I would say to them, that it’s ok to wear sneakers. It’s ok to go out and spend $150-$200 on some Jordans…but why not go out there and spend that same amount on a pair of dress shoes? Ladies look at you, you have to go to work in the corporate world and you can’t go in there for an interview with a pair of Jordans on your feet! They are going to look at you and say “this guy didn’t come prepared.” So why not have a pair of good quality dress shoes on your feet? It’s ok to switch up your style, show others that you can be a little urban, and a little stylish as well!
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