Longtime friends Andrew Torosyan and Carl Nazarian are following in their fathers’ footsteps.
The duo recently launched Zabellos.com, an online luxury shoe-repair business headquartered in Los Angeles.
“We remake shoes, not just repair them,” explained Torosyan, hoping to distinguish the site from other online services by its level of craftsmanship. Their fathers, who learned the craft in their native Armenia, oversee the repairs.
Torosyan, an accountant, came up with the concept when co-workers at his downtown Los Angeles office began dropping off bags of shoes at his desk to have them repaired by his dad, who owns a local shoe-repair shop. “I realized people love their shoes, but many don’t have the time to repair them,” said Torosyan.
When Torosyan approached Nazarian with the business model, the latter was already managing his father’s Los Angeles-based bespoke shoe business, Grisha’s Custom Shoes, catering to high-profile clients including Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Shaquille O’Neal and Paula Abdul.
Torosyan said as local independently owned shoe-repair shops continue to close, he expects demand for the onlineservice to grow. “My father once had at least 10 competitors within a 10-mile radius,” he explained. “Now, only two remain.” In fact, many of his father’s clients who’ve moved away continue to send him shoes for repair. Coupled with this, said the partners, repairing shoes stretches one’s footwear dollars in today’s economy.