Hi Shoes & Craft Readers!
I will be honest. This is terrifying to be on the other side of this blog. I have read Marcell’s blog for several years now and could not fathom I would be writing on his blog (or any blog)- EVER! I am more of the reader-type (i.e. lurker) not the posting-type. In fact, I joined social media late in life. Like really, really late. I finally succumb to joining Facebook in 10/2014! I am still hopeful to keep in contact by snail mail and telephone… Call me old fashioned.
To get started, Marcell suggested that I should discuss the usually introductions (i.e. who am I, how did I get here, etc). So without further adieu…. My name is Emily Parker. Grew up in Dana Point, California. Live in Redwood City, California. However, I am temporarily living in Savannah, Georgia apprenticing for Marcell.
I know everyone has a story of how they got to where they are, so I will keep my story (quasi) short. I have always loved shoes. Seriously. My parents could show you pictures of shoe drawings I completed when I was 6 (not that I would ever want them to). And as an adult, my shoe obsession may or may not have affected relationships. However, when choosing a career path I chose the road more traveled rather than less. I worked for the federal government for nearly a decade. This job offered stability, security and a purpose. And, although the job was very meaningful and rewarding, I always felt a creative void. To fill this void, I started reading shoe blogs, watching shoe vlogs and buying shoe books. I became hooked. I loved watching shoemakers take organic materials and turn those materials into wearable, beautiful art. Eventually this obsession lead to spending my vacation time taking shoe courses and searching for shoemakers so I could admire their work in-person. Needless to say, I have spent more vacation time visiting shoe stores, shoemakers and other shoe related places than I spent doing the normal tourist attractions.
In 11/2014, I took one of Marcell’s classes. And, I must admit I was deathly afraid of him. Marcell has a big online presence, creates amazing/beautiful shoes and his personality (both online and in-person) is equally big (in a good way). What I mean by the last part is: He gives honest feedback about your work, whether you are asking for it or not. If the work is bad, he will say it is bad. He is not there to be your best friend (or as Marcell would say, “I am not there to be your mummy.”). He is there to teach you and make you better. However, if you are a novice shoemaker, it is quite intimidating to be around a master shoemaker. Especially a master shoemaker with his talent. Thus, if I can give any advice for someone wanting to get an apprenticeship or wanting to know why I think Marcell gave me the opportunity to apprentice for him. I would say: Take a class. Keep your mouth shut. Listen to what is being said. Sweep the workshop every night without having them ask you to sweep or you asking if they want you to sweep. Just pick up the broom and start sweeping. Be engaged, courteous, polite, active and interested. Do not complain. Do not touch any tools. Do not ask unnecessary or annoying questions (or as Marcell would say, “stupid questions”).
That was exactly what I did during Marcell’s class: I did not talk, unless spoken to. I did not ask questions, unless it was completely and absolutely necessary. I observed. I took notes. I did not touch his things. I came to class early. And, I swept the workshop everyday. No one asked me to. I just picked up the broom and started sweeping before I left for the day. It was on principle and out of respect. There was no higher level thinking or brown-nosing involved. I figured the students made the mess and we should clean it. On the last day, he asked me to have lunch without my classmates. I terrifyingly agreed. During lunch Marcell asked, “What do you want to do with your life?” I said, “Well, I want to make shoes.” His response, “Make shoes or design shoes?” I responded, “I want to make shoes.” He then responded with, “Okay. We can do that. I will help you.”
Over the next several months, Marcell and I corresponded by phone, text and email. I then had to figure out the logistics of (1) how to tell my husband that my shoemaking passion may have become less of a hobby and more of a career change (2) how could we afford an apprenticeship on the other side of the US and (3) when would I quit my job. My husband asked me to put together a business proposal of the projected costs (e.g. apprenticeship costs, lodging, airfare, etc). This task came to be very valuable because I could visualize and conceptualize exactly (1) what I was signing up for and (2) how much it would cost. I got the husband’s support, ran the numbers and decided a year later to make the jump. So here I am, 13 months later: Jobless and apprenticing for the amazing MM (Marcell Mrsan aka Master Menace). I am living the dream. I am thrilled, excited and over the moon to be here.
I hope I answered most of the introductory questions, but look forward to talking to all of you and having you experience this journey with me. I hate the word “journey” but it seems appropriate. If you message me, I will do my best to respond to each and every message timely.
Side note, I plan to start posting daily life on Instagram. I am not much of an Instagramer, but MM and I have a ton of fun in his workshop (e.g. I redecorate his workshop when left alone, label his tool drawers with outlandish comments, trash his beloved scrap piles, nearly gut myself with knifes, break sand belts, set things on fire and, generally speaking, destroy the workshop. And, that’s only what I have done! MM hides my shoe patterns, tells me shoe elves trash my work and I have to do it again. Then, MM sneaks into his workshop late at night and labels my work with “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?” and other unsavory comments like “EMILY – MASTER LABELER AND SAND BELT BREAKER”). I think MM’s audience would greatly enjoy seeing the other (human?) side of MM and what its like to be an apprentice.
Until next time,