© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Northeast Ohio is full of creative people following their dreams while trying to make a living. From jewelry crafted out of broken street glass to sound equipment engineered for rock stars, see what people are "making" in the community.

Making It: Sneakers From Scratch With JBF Customs in Cleveland

Jake Ferrato shows off one of his custom made sneakers

MAKER: Jake Ferrato


WHAT HE DOES: Ferrato both reconstructs sneakers and creates new pairs in his downtown Cleveland loft. He points out he is not a cobbler, which is someone who fixes shoes, but a cordwainer.

HOW IT STARTED: Working as a teen at a Nike Factory outlet store he first learned about sneaker culture and how people collect, trade and celebrate them as works of art.

Ferrato began painting on his shoes, but he was not happy with how that looked. Then he started taking them apart and took a course in shoemaking. Several years later, he has carved a niche creating artistic designs using high-end materials.

“Python, alligator, ostrich, lizard,” he said. “That’s what people generally come to me for.”

THE NUMBERS: Prices start at $1,000, but he said he doesn’t have an upper limit. Ferrato estimates it takes 40 hours to make a pair.

“Shoemaking’s been paying the bills for at least like five years,” he said. “I haven’t had a ‘job’ since I was 18.”

Most people contact him through social media or online for business. He has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram.

ON USING SHOE LOGOS: Ferrato doesn’t try to hide that he uses the logos of designer brands. He said he has even done custom work for Nike, Adidas and Puma.

“All of the big companies have been supportive and happy that we mess with them,” he said.

TEACHING THE TRADE: Ferrato has been teaching others how to do what he does, including Phil Avin, who started his own business after working with Ferrato for a few years.

jeff.haynes@ideastream.org | 216-916-6276