If the job fits . . . : Yerevan’s shoe-repair woman

If the job fits . . . : Yerevan’s shoe-repair woman


Most men still get surprised when they first approach a small shoe repair shop located in a Yerevan suburb and find inside a modest woman, handling a hammer with her somewhat hardened, but still ladylike hands, repairing shoe heels.

For 20 years 50-year-old Gayane Ghambaryan has been in or near the shoemaking trade. She had always been beside her cobbler husband, helping him with the work. But when her husband died three years ago little did she imagine that she would pick up where he left and continue his business.

“During the dark years [when Armenia suffered electricity shortages in the early 1990s] I would bake cakes and pastry. Then my husband saw that I had skillful hands and suggested we work together,” says Gayane.

Now not only old customers bring their shoes for Gayane to repair, but also many who have heard about her since she took on the work solo. She is believed to be the only female shoe cobbler in town.

In a small booth like those scattered throughout Yerevan, in the district of Ajapnyak, she works from morning till evening, surrounded by icons and family photos of her husband, children and beloved grandkids. With a great skill she glues the shoe lining, adds leather, tailors and pastes stuff, does everything a shoemaker would do, to leave her customers satisfied.

“This is a hard job for a woman. You can’t do it unless you like it,” says Gayane, who believes that a woman is more responsible and reliable in every walk of life.

“Shoe cobbling is like medicine – until you see the shoe you can’t tell what its repair would cost, and looking at a person’s shoes you can tell what kind of person their wearer is,” adds Gayane, smiling.