If you know me, you know I love shoes.
Not just love—LOVE. All of them*. I even confess, gulp, to owning Birkenstocks, something I said I would never do when my dad first wore them, very unfashionably, when I was in high school.
Years ago, our too-tiny master closet overflowed with shoes. My shoes. Remember that children’s book “Strega Nona”? With the pasta spilling out of the houses?
That was our closet — but with shoe boxes that couldn’t be contained. They had to be stashed under our bed, beneath my dresser and nightstand and even the guest room closet. Call me Shoega Nona. When Fiona, the woman we hired to whip our closet into shape, got a gander at what was behind those sliding mirrored doors, she clucked her tongue and said in her charming Scottish brogue, “Ya got a lot of shoes.”
“Why don’t you count how many shoes boxes are stacked up?” Joe asked No. 3. when we had to pull everything out of the closet for Fiona to work her magic. He was 4 at the time and the high number exceeded his counting ability.
It didn’t help my, uh, shoetuation that there was for an all-too-brief period of time a glorious store in town (gone too soon, Stems A Shoe Boutique). Customers could even throw after-hours parties, which of course I did. Think Pampered Chef or Tupperware but 1,000 times better because, well, SHOES. Even when I was in a post-surgical boot (perhaps you could pick it out in the pix above), I would try on shoes with one foot and buy them, waiting for the day I’d be able to wear them both.
Before that, way back when No. 1 was a toddler and very into Build A Bear, she picked out a fluffy bunny and she wasn’t interested in any clothes for hew new bestie, just a pair of cute, pink sneakers.
“My bunny’s name is Shoes,” she informed us. I may have wept a little, realizing that my stylish DNA had definite dominance over her Skechers-wearing Dad’s.
Flash forward to now. I’ve gotten, ugh, older and had more foot surgeries and knee issues and less patience for, well, everything and especially discomfort so I’ve gotten rid of all but my most wearable heels. I’ve segued out of teetery sandals in favor of gravitationally-friendly flats and squooshily supportive, colorful sneaks. When No. 1 landed an internship with Nike over the summer and we learned that, as family members, we were Swoosh eligible (i.e., discounts online and in stores!), No. 3 — who also inherited the Shoe Appreciation gene — and I were in seventh shoe heaven.
Over the course of his big sis’s three-month internship, No. 3 secured golf shoes, Metcons and basketball sneaks — five pairs in total. I acquired six pairs. Not that it’s a competition. My last pair, in fact, arrived just the other day even though the internship ended months ago. ‘Twas QUITE the ordeal getting that pair of shoes. It all started because I thought it would be cool — as long as a generous discount was involved — to design my very own custom pair of footwear. This was actually an assignment for No. 1 at one point for which she got paid, but I did it purely for funsies. One design I felt was worthy enough to actually order and so I did on July 12. Estimated shipping date: July 26.
Now, the website warns it can take two to three weeks for custom-designed shoes, well worth it. I entertained myself in the meantime by ordering shoes that were already made and available.
My estimated shipping date came and went. An email arrived assuring me that my shoes were diligently being crafted and thisclose to being complete. More days passed. Still no shipping notice. I decided to reach out to Nike customer service.
“Are you ripping off my design?!”
Mina assured me that Nike was not, and, sounding just like a patient parent who keeps telling her anxious kids it won’t be much further, told me my shoes would arrive soon.
Then it was August.
I again reached out to chat with customer service about my kicks.
“That design is 🔥!” the rep told me. And apparently fire takes longer to manufacture.
At the end of September, I asked yet again and this time I discovered that my shoes were trapped in a factory in Vietnam. The entire country was shut down as a wave of COVID-19 swept through the largely unvaccinated population. I went poking around the internet and found all kinds of stories about the woes hitting Vietnam’s workers and manufacturing plants. A ton of companies — from Nike to Lululemon to Gap — have goods made there. The more I read, the more I felt like a first-world jerk. Vietnam was set to reopen Oct. 1, so my shoes could be shipped no later than Oct. 8.
That’s OK, I thought, take your time. In fact, you just keep my shoes. You have bigger problems. Be safe.
Then, lo and behold, on Oct. 13, a shipping notification arrived! Of course, by Oct. 14 was a weather delay.
Guess what arrived?! Finally this week?! Three months and one day shy of a week after they were ordered?!
Ta da! Kristen’s Kustom Kicks. I love them and while No. 3 declared them “wild,” I think they’re actually pretty subtle … for me.
*NOT Crocs, though. EVER.