Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Oralba Smith

Oralba's Shoes

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

“One of my goals is to give jobs to people in need.” –Oralba Smith

When you approach Oralba’s studio, you’ll find the past intertwined with the present. That is how her businessOralba’s Shoes, is woven together old world meets new, strung together with family ties. The location of her workshop, nestled between farmland and artist’s studios along the Florida coast, uniquely represents this charm.

Oralba began making shoes more than thirty years ago. She learned to craft using Jute, the rope-like fabric used in her home country of Venezuela. When she first came to the United States, she worked in different jobs related to her design degree, including a position as a collections assistant at the Beaumont Museum of Art.

After several years she decided she was ready to return to her passion making art. So she started her own business, Oralba’s Shoes. Since opening the business, shoe-making has become more than art for Oralba; it’s her chance to help others in the community. She puts her soul into every design, even customizing individual fits for customers with specific needs.

My mom is a true artist. Sometimes she will spend so much time perfecting one shoe. I have to remind her, “Mom, we have many more to make. Don’t spend so much time on one pair,” laughs her daughter, and Marketing Director, Oriana.

Looking ahead, Oralba is focused on ways to bring happiness to a greater number of customers. The fact that I can make someone happy with what I do is wonderful to me, she says. Oralba’s family is helping to support this growth, including Oriana, who is helping to build a presence via social media, and her brother, who is looking at ways to scale the business, without losing the handmade charm. With her artistic nature and the help of a loving family, Oralba has built a business that is one of a kind.

With a loan from Ascendus, Oralba was able to take steps to scale her business, renovating her workshop and streamlining production, and hiring a consultant to assist with the growth plan.

One of my goals is to give jobs to people in need, she says, We can hire mothers, grandmothers, anyone who can learn to partake in the sewing and make a living doing it.

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