Sole Sur­vivor

Hazel’s shoes are in the Premier League!

Pick Me Up! Special - - News - For more in­for­ma­tion, go to­by­

Mak­ing shoes turned my life around

Hazel Or­ton, 42, Le­ices­ter­shire

Things hadn’t been go­ing well for me… Last March, I sud­denly lost my job as a sign maker. ‘Ev­ery­thing will be fine,’ I told my lads, Jake, now 23, and Connor, 15.

Truth was, I was strug­gling to make ends meet.

I’d fallen be­hind on rent, couldn’t find work and the cup­boards were bare.

Ashamed, I went to a lo­cal food bank for help.

My land­lord was in­cred­i­bly un­der­stand­ing, too, but I knew it was only a mat­ter of time before his pa­tience wore thin. He’d al­ready men­tioned the dreaded word ‘evic­tion’ to me. Then I re­ceived an email from a friend of a friend. She knew I had a de­gree in Multi-me­dia Tex­tile Design and Busi­ness, was cre­ative, and loved arts and crafts. ‘I want some per­son­alised shoes for my wed­ding,’ she ex­plained, ask­ing if I could cus­tomise some with the Le­ices­ter City FC em­blem. I did some re­search and de­cided to give it a go! It took me a week to whip up the stilet­tos and hand­bag for her. ‘Thank you so much!’ she said when I sent them to her. She even posted a pic­ture on­line. By the next morn­ing, we had clocked up 31,000 views! Bet­ter still, or­ders for more shoes were sud­denly flood­ing in! Soon, I was mak­ing 15 pairs a week. And, as Le­ices­ter City made their way up the league ta­ble, I was in­un­dated! I even made my­self a pair to wear in the pub.

‘It’s free ad­ver­tis­ing,’ I laughed to mates, as I showed them off.

And, thank­fully, it meant money was com­ing, too. I started my own Face­book page and, last year, when Le­ices­ter were shock Premier League cham­pi­ons, busi­ness just boomed!

But it wasn’t just foot­ball cus­tomis­ing.

I made any­thing from lo­cal busi­ness lo­gos to other be­spoke wed­ding shoes for brides.

‘I lost my dad and I’d like his pic­ture on my shoes so that he’s still walk­ing me down the aisle,’ one cus­tomer wrote.

My heart re­ally went out to her.

I did as she asked and sent them… ‘They’re so lovely I can’t wear them,’ she sobbed, want­ing them to dis­play in her house.

‘Can you make me another pair for the wed­ding?’ How could I refuse her? By then, I’d set up a work­sta­tion in my bed­room and lounge. Now, I’m try­ing out su­per­hero prints for an up­com­ing Comic Con event and ex­per­i­ment­ing with em­bel­lish­ing wellies and Dr Martens boots.

Some­times I want to keep the shoes I cus­tomise.

Mak­ing shoes saved me from go­ing broke and los­ing my home.

Now I’m re­ally tak­ing a step in the right di­rec­tion!

Or­ders came flood­ing in Now I’m mak­ing huge strides in my ca­reer

A freak win made me a win­ner too!

My foot­ball footwear proved a huge suc­cess

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