Phoebe constructed her first pair of shoes when she was an art major at Sonoma State University in 1976. At that time moccasins were the fashion rage and she decided to make her own pair; bought a wonderful book called Shoes For Free People (by David and Inger Runk), materials, and succeeded in making her first pair of knee-high moccasins. Though they did fall apart in a few weeks, she succeeded in making a second pair and wore them proudly for years. She realized how comfortable the moccasins were in comparison with her everyday, mass produced, store bought shoes and decided to make shoes; thus begins her journey.
For eleven 'hobby' years she made numerous pairs for herself and friends, experimenting with designs. Anyone who remembers the waitress with the puffy shoes (dacron stuffed for warmth) with rubber dust mixed in with shoe glue forming the sole back in 1978, can laugh now. During this time period there were no local schools to learn shoemaking, so she trained as a shoe repairwoman. At that time the profession was exclusively men. Imagine the big burly redneck's expression when coming in to get his cowboy boots resoled and discovering the shoe repairman was a repairwoman. Another shoe repairman repeatedly told her that she would be unable to learn how to repair shoes because she needed more strength and refused to help her. But her strong spirit, understanding of leverage, artistic and rebellious nature kept her goal to make shoes undiminished. In 1980 she embarked on a seven year world adventure making shoes in Greece, Germany, Egypt, Congo, Taiwan, China, and Australia; she boasts of knowing the words for shoe glue in 10 languages.
In late 1987 she returned to the US and began working at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (1988), for two build seasons working on theater shoes and boots. Her shoe repair experience was invaluable. That spring she began selling Phoebe's Footwear at Ashland Shoe Repair. From 1988 on, she sold her craft in stores located in Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, Idaho and California besides selling at numerous art fairs. After a 10 year hiatus she is back with a new perspective, goals, design ideas, and those wonderfully inventive shoes she loves making. Her goal is to manufacture a simple shoe designed to stretch, shape and mold after about 10 hours of wear. Since she makes each pair individually why not keep the colors and leathers unique to each pair? Or resole, renew, and keep her shoes out of the landfill for many years. (Just refurbished a pair that are 22 years old.) Phoebe’s Footwear are designed and manufactured in the US. It's a great life.