Schooled in the Art of Shoe Shining

“One needs only to follow their passion and the money will come.”  That’s what I was told by a business colleague of mine about ten years ago – but I never believed it.  I mean, what if your passion was say, shining shoes?  Where’s the money in that?

Enter Japanese shoe shine samurai, Yuya Hasegawa.  At 20, his dream was to be his own boss by the age of 23.  He figured there were only two types of businesses that required little-to-no start-up capital – masseur and shoe shiner.  At 25, the kid’s gone from shining shoes in the Tokyo subway, to being booted out by the cops, then opening up his very own ¥1,500 ($US 20) a pop shoe shine shop called Boot Black Japan.

He compares the shoe-polishing process to a woman’s makeover.  Hasegawa starts by brushing off the dirt, then wipes them with a cleansing cream.  He proceeds to spread a moisturizing substance over the leather.  Next, he repeatedly swipes at the shoes with a hog-bristle brush, working on the excess cream until the shoes start to gleam.  He continues to work the shoe in a polish, oil cream, and water, using a soft cloth wrapped around his finger tips to a spotless shine.

Hasegawa’s next step is expansion.  He hopes to open more shops in Japan and maybe one day in New York, Paris, and Milan.  Why wouldn’t I be surprised if he succeeds?


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