After years of ‘sole’ searching, pursuing many number of careers or jobs from secretary to stockbroker, caterer, international marketing representative of pocket sized companies, even designing a line of plush toys, I stumbled upon the concept of the shoe shine in September 1993, at a trade only show in the U.S. This idea came at a time when I had finally concluded that owning my own business was the way to go, having recently completed career counseling at Toronto’s service agency “Times Change for Women” (the services of which I will remain eternally grateful).
I was ripe for ideas, and the shoe shine was one that was suggested by a fellow exhibitor at the show. But initially this idea didn’t register with me as the way to go. After all, I thought it was beneath me given some of the great strides I had made in life since starting to work full time at age 17, also coupled with international business travel and the perks that go with it, not to mention the fact that I was approaching my 40th birthday. Can you imagine a 40 year old female and former stock broker shining shoes? Well, as the saying goes – never say never!
Since registering Penny Loafers Shoe Shine Company in September 1994, upon my return from training in the U.S. (incorporated in 2003), this remains the only business model of its type in Canada. Not only is it unique as the only chain of stand-alone shoe shine kiosks in Canada, also operating what I believe is the oldest shoe shine parlour in the country, and are sponsored to serve at special events in Toronto and beyond, but also for such claims as having a weekly feature in a national newspaper. As well, I also avail myself as a public speaker, telling a story that is guaranteed to inspire and inform, and is sure to entertain, because we’re in the ‘Feel Good’ business.
So take a bit of time to review our press for more of the story, including my 2003 Globe & Mail ‘coming-out’ interview when I declared myself Mayor of The PATH; Toronto’s underground city.
Throughout the years I have actively supported many number of children’s and women’s charities, often supported by the wonderful operators of Penny Loafers Shoe Shine Company Inc.®, who in January 2003 donated all proceeds from one week of shining to World Vision’s Tsunami Relief fund. I was doubly appreciative of the support for our mutual efforts from our First Canadian Place landlord at the time, O&Y Properties.
OUR SHOESHINE ‘VALETS’
In addition to quality of workmanship and first class level of service provided at Penny Loafers – Fairmont Royal York, First Canadian Place, the Toronto Dominion Centre, and
at special events, we are also known for the stellar cast of Valets who serve. All are
part-time; the gentlemen are new. (In order to work at Penny Loafers, individuals must
be pursuing their own business or career, or attending school, or perhaps getting back
on their feet, and into the workplace.)
Some of Our Current Valets
Andrew – talented actor and musician
Cathy – professor of journalism, and former radio news anchor at the CNN
affiliate in NY
Erin – actor, and a big fan of Andrew’s (his lovely wife)
Jenny – busy award-winning actor who has performed for Royalty and soon to be Mother in May/June 2011
Justine – recent university graduate pursuing a career in event planning
Laura F -- pursuing a career in aesthetics in fall of 2011
Laura M -- with a degree in biology and psychology from UofT she plans to focus on nursing after completing additional education
Laura N -- director, actor and writer with her MFA from Havard American Repertory
Lynn – masseuse and reflexologist (Jenny’s cousin)
Penny – create jobs, pursue new business development and public speaking
Shannon -- floral designer building her new business
Shawn -- writer working on his first novel.
Veronica – freelance stage manager, and part-time stage manager at Second City