Raleigh maker turns his love of shoes into a line of work

From shoe lover to shoemaker

Jeremy Andrias of Heavy Motel creates boots and other finished goods at his Raleigh home
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Jeremy Andrias of Heavy Motel creates boots and other finished goods at his Raleigh home

Jeremy Andrias’ love of shoes and working with his hands led him to shoemaking.

“All of this started because of sneakers,” says Andrias in his Raleigh garage-turned-studio. “I collected sneakers growing up … they were like, my thing. I used to camp outside of malls – I’ve snuck into places trying to get first in line to go get shoes.”

Although Andrias admits his tastes have changed with age, some beloved old skate shoes and basketball sneakers line the wall in his garage, awaiting repairs.

“I want to give that same feeling that I get when I buy a new pair of shoes,” he says, his eyes moving across pairs of shoes that inspire him or that carry a feature he’d like to recreate in his own boots. “I feel there’s a lot of things in sneakers that’s not used in traditional boots and footwear, and I feel combining those two will appeal more to my demographic – millennials who will wear a pair of Red Wings and then will wear a pair of Jordans the next day,” he says.

Andrias’ love of shoes became serious work when he struck up a friendship with local shoemaker Kieran Ionescu, who owned Main Street Shoe Repair in Durham. Andrias worked for Ionescu for over two years and credits him as a mentor. “Those first six months were hard learning about shoes, and it was difficult. But we had a lot of work, and I got a lot of practice in seeing how shoes were made,” he says. “When I made my first pair of shoes it was the most satisfying day ever. I’ll never forget that day as long as I live.”

Main Street Shoe Repair closed in 2013, so Andrias works as a bartender at Tobacco Road Sports Cafe in Durham while crafting handmade leather belts and improving his shoemaking skills in his spare time. Along with two longtime friends, Andrias plans to launch a finished goods brand in early 2016, which will include leather goods, T-shirts and eventually boots.

Jeremy Andrias

Jeremy Andrias’ leather belts – with locally made buckles and ranging in price from $200-$300 – are sold at Quercus Studio ( in downtown Raleigh. Quercus will host a First Friday show for his pieces March 4-5. Find him on Instagram @jeremyandrias or email him at