EDGEWATER — After opening his first shoe repair shop at age 19 just last year, Fix Your Kicks owner Joshua Marin has returned to the neighborhood where he grew up to open his third location.
The Senn High School graduate, now 20, debuted his store Wednesday at 1140 W. Thorndale Ave. in Edgewater in the storefront that formerly housed Sam's Shoe Clinic.
"It feels great," Marin said. "I hope to be a positive [influence], especially to the Senn students."
Marin's work to open a store in Edgewater was anything but a cakewalk.
After Sam's Shoe Clinic closed earlier this year, Marin said he came to check out the building and see what machinery he might be able to buy from the shuttered shop.
When he arrived, he was greeted by a man who managed the location. He inquired about taking it over — but the man was initially hesitant because of Marin's age.
Eventually, the man told Marin he'd rented it to someone else. But that deal fell through, and Marin's persistence paid off.
Now he's taking orders to stitch up shoes and cobble soles from his new digs on Thorndale Avenue.
Not just that, but Marin is a jack of all cobbling trades, repairing everything from high-end, designer purses to luggage, jackets, shoes and more.
He can fix broken zippers and rivets, torn leather, a broken heel and provide cleanings and create custom shoe designs, among other miscellaneous fixes that most people don't even realize can be performed by a cobbler, he said.
His shop also sells some of the everyday maintenance equipment one might need to maintain their kicks, like paint and laces.
A customer coming in to repair a tear on a suede boot. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
It's a skill that's in Marin's blood, he said. Marin picked it up from his father, who learned it from his father.
After working for another cobbler, last year Marin decided to start his own venture and opened the first Fix Your Kicks at 4252 N. Western Ave.
In February, he helped his dad open a second location at 2107 N. Western Ave. in Bucktown, though he's now working at his own shoe-shine and cobbler stand Downtown across from Willis Tower.
The pair's close relationship has helped them each grow and advance in their craft, a partnership Marin said he's honored to be a part of.
"The blessings that I get, I try to bless other people as well," Marin said. "I helped out my father and kind of gave him that push because he's always pushed me, too. My father is an excellent role model, man, I swear."
And though he no longer lives in the neighborhood himself, Marin's roots are still abundant in the community: His grandmother lives right down the street from his shop; his friends from Senn pass by his window; and he often drops off his younger sister at nearby Hayt Elementary School.
Marin said although he was required to apply to college and was accepted to Columbia College, DePaul and Truman Collage, as a "hustler" who knows how to turn a profit, he always knew cobbling was his destiny.
He wants to encourage his cohorts, and schools in general, to think outside the box when it comes to career paths, as well. One day hopes to teach the art of cobbling to younger kids and mentor them, he said.
In the bigger picture, he said he hopes to travel to other places like Mexico and Italy, where cobbling and fashion communities thrive.
"Kids should find something they like doing," he said. "Take their talents, and if they really enjoy something, keep going, keep committed."
All photos DNAinfo/Linze Rice