Former London Fashion Insider Makes Custom Shoes for Central Tex - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Former London Fashion Insider Makes Custom Shoes for Central Texans

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(KCEN) - Uncomfortable shoes; we've all been there, aching to kick them off and rest those dogs.

A local woman is working to make feet feel better with custom-made shoes.

"My feet always hurt," said Zoe Rios, owner of ZR Shoes. "I can't remember when they didn't hurt."

She wanted to do something about it. A part of London's fashion scene years ago, she decided it wasn't for her.

"I like working with people," Rios said, "and I like the technical construction end."

Living in Waco for her husband's job, she's been making custom shoes here for the last seven years.

Cutting, scraping, and sewing to make a pair at a time.

"This is not a fast project when somebody decides they want shoes," she said.

In fact, it's about a month from start to finish.

The first step is to get what's called a pedograph, which is basically just an imprint of your foot. It's pretty easy to do. You just put your foot on a plastic contraption, and then simply stand up.

The result is an ink impression of your funny-looking feet.

Then it's a lot of fittings -- "I use cardboard, old leather, duct tape sometimes," Rios said -- before she gets started on the real thing.

"By the time I put the sole on and the heel on I know that it fits them."

"I know what handmade means," said Hal Pledger, one of her customers. "It means it'll get done when it's perfect."

Pledger has two pairs of Rios' shoes. She says they're worth every penny.

"I guess all my life I've never had shoes that felt as good as these do," said Pledger.

"You lose that if you're manufacturing," Rios said.

So she'll keep making them one pair at a time.

Rios runs her company out of Anthem Studios in downtown Waco. Her shoes run $400 or more, but she can make sandals for cheaper.

It's an expensive pair of shoes. But the custom footwear can be the difference between a painful day and a pleasant stroll.

She's making everyday life better for people like Pledger.

"I was tired of wearing flip-flops," Pledger said. "I wore them summer and winter."

Store-bought shoes were a real pain in the foot. The custom footwear is a different story.

"Slowly, over time, it affects their whole health," Rios said of painful, poor-fitting shoes.

Rios is a certified pedorthist, which means she has training to address certain medical issues below the knee.

A custom fit means no more discomfort.

"We need to keep our industry alive for the people that need us," said Rios.

And these aren't your average kicks: Using century-old sewing machines, she makes high-quality, high-dollar footwear.

She uses all different kinds of leather, from water buffalo to calf to kangaroo, and even things like lizard and alligator.

"Every time I wear them," Pledger said, "either one of the pairs that I have had made now, I get compliments on them."

And that's nothing compared to the feel-good factor. A dose of comfort for the sole.

Rios also teaches leatherwork classes at her shop. You can find more information on those classes and her company (including contact information) on her Website or her Facebook page.
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