“If both of your shoes are shined, then your best foot will always be forward” said Maryrose Wood. We reckon the folk over at Buffed would agree. After meeting them and experiencing the stellar service ourselves, we’re converts, too. We met with the super friendly and energetic Jasmina from the South Melbourne office who, thankfully for us, also happens to be a bit of a gun behind the coffee machine. Quality coffee in hand, she filled us in on all things Buffed.
So what is it?
“Buffed is a social enterprise designed to assist individuals who are facing barriers to employment in establishing and operating a small shoe shine and leather care business. Buffed artisans receive comprehensive training in the fine art of shoe shining, customer service skills and business training development. Buffed provides high-level support that includes: business mentorship and dynamic marketing to ensure artisans have the best chance of creating a successful business. While growing their own business, artisans develop skills, experience and confidence that will greatly assist them toward future goals or aspirations.”
Well that ticked our boxes of a) doing something good and b) getting something rad in return (let’s face it, that’s always a deal-sweetener). The thing with excitement is that it’s contagious, and we were pretty dang pumped to try this out and experience it for ourselves. We hot-footed (via bike of course) across to 500 Bourke Street to meet with Danny, one of the Melbourne-based Buffed operators.
Truth be told, getting a shoe shine from Danny at 500 Bourke Street was somewhat overdue. Earlier this year while on a project meeting, we were introduced to him by the facility manager of the building, who was clearly enthusiastic about this enterprise and what a benefit Danny and his service were to the building. All swept up in a good cause, we vowed to come back soon when time wasn’t pushing us onwards and now, albeit later rather than sooner, here we were again.
It’s always worthwhile to exchange the regular elevator small-talk for something with more substance, and this was no exception. A little shy and very thorough, Danny told us that he’d left Ethiopia for Kenya, where he’d been living for the past 20 years before arriving in Australia. He spoke about his family back home, who live near the river but have to be selective about fishing locations, lest they become a lion’s dinner. We chatted about soccer and learnt that Danny’s a Liverpool fan and that when he has a kick he always dons the number 5 jersey. He also told us a little bit about the circumstances back home that led to him seeking asylum in Australia. And it’s this sort of thing that reinforced to us why Buffed is such a great idea – so that people like Danny have opportunities to be supported, nurtured and packed to the gills with new skills until they’re ready to move onto other things.
Walking away in our good-as-new kicks, it wasn’t just the shoes that were shining. We were feeling the good vibes too, content in the knowledge that we’d played a small role in supporting this social enterprise. There are several locations throughout Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane so treat yo’self!
If you like what you’ve read and you’re keen to get involved, visit the website http://www.buffed.org.au/ to ‘locate a shine’ or organize any of the other services, including in-office shoe shinings, organizing a mobile artisan for your functions and a drop-off leather repair service.