Raul Ojeda is a man fueled by passion. The owner of Don Ville bespoke shoemakers on 113, N La Brea Ave. is a great conversationalist beyond the craft of shoe making. Upon passing by this beautiful storefront window on my way to Self Edge denim store last Sunday, I was instantly drawn in. Greeted by Raul as I walked through his front door, we struck up a dialog that lasted a good hour as he diligently expanded my knowledge in the art of custom shoe making.
Raul has been in the shoe business since 2004 and credits his teacher and mentor Willie Rivera from whom he earned his apprenticeship and perfected the art of shoe crafting. I asked Raul if he had any reservations about opening a niche business in the current recessionary environment, to which replied as any confident entrepreneur would – “If you build quality, the demand will be there”. His customer is clearly not of the mass market variety but rather a discerning individual that will pay for quality that lasts a lifetime. The store space at Don Ville is very inviting, clean, chic. Lingering is encouraged!
Raul explained that footwear service at Don Ville comes in two flavors “Made to measure” and “True bespoke”. The former is a process that is semi-custom with footwear made for customers with “shoe lasts” that the store has in it’s inventory. With bespoke, the lasts are made for customers and represent individual custom molds. The approximate price for made to measure shoes ranges from $700 – $1000. Bespoke shoes will set you back $2000 or more depending on the leather, customization, patina or other special requests. While it seems like a lot, quality shoes made here will last you a lifetime if cared for well (for context, bespoke services from the like of John Lobb would reach upwards of $7,000!)
A peek into Raul’s operations and workshop is a visual treat as well. It provides a great perspective into the labor, skill and touch that goes into making a great pair of shoes. Seen on the shelves are the hundreds of lasts that are in Don Ville’s inventory.
Yes, it’s all made in America baby! 100% quality – no cheap imports.
Like a great suit from Savile Row, a pair of bespoke shoes from Don Ville will make you feel like a million bucks!
Continued success and best wishes Raul!. Thanks for showing us around.