Oak Street Bootmakers was created to help preserve the tradition of American shoemaking. Since 2010, we have handcrafted 100% of our footwear and accessories in the United States. In fact, we now offer the world’s only collection of shoes and boots with Goodyear Welt, Genuine Handsewn, and Stitch-down construction methods crafted entirely in America. We use nothing but the finest and most durable materials available and work tirelessly to provide customers with the highest value product and level of experience within the world of handcrafted footwear. The son of a cobbler, Oak Street Bootmakers Founder and Design Director George Vlagos (LAS humanities major ) apprenticed at his father’s shop. From his father, George learned how shoes are made—and how they used to be made. Today, George designs footwear inspired by the most iconic American styles of the last 100 years. Each style showcases the best of traditional American craftsmanship. Despite our penchant for quality, we aim to make our boots and shoes available to as many people as possible, with prices that reflect the quality of the materials and the skill and experience of the American shoemakers and bootmakers who craft each pair.
We do not consider ourselves a manufacturer of “luxury goods” but of “quality goods” which create value for our customers, our local economy—and our small, but passionate staff. All our footwear is fully recraftable, meaning it can be re-lasted and re-soled. With proper care and maintenance, our footwear will last not years, but decades. And every pair is fully-backed by our Factory Guarantee. As we grow, we seek to expand our product line to include as many timeless styles as possible, not only maintain but increase our quality standards, offer more sizes to accommodate more people, improve the shopping and ownership experience—all while making sure our products represent the best long term value on the market.
This would be a great opportunity for any student interested in learning about entrepreneurship, starting and running a small business, and particularly if they are interested in e-commerce! Just a note that our HQ is an office/warehouse setting, and is separate from our manufacturing.
Read more about the owner, George Vlagos’s, journey from English major to bootmaking here.
Location: 1431 W Hubbard St, STE 203, Chicago, IL 60642
10:00–10:30 am: Welcome, introduction, and overview of Oak Street Bootmakers/Independence with founder and former LAS humanities major, George Vlagos
10:30 –11:00 am: Insight into occupation/daily roles of Hayley Cox (Operations Manager), as well as her career path to Oak Street
11:00-11:20 am: Design concept –> Production –> Marketing with George
11:20am–12:00 pm: Modified Brand Deck (virtual) with Mike Wilkie, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce
12:00–1:00 pm: Lunch with George. Discuss current academics, interested career paths, etc. / mentorship
1:00–1:30 pm: Visit Independence. Meet with store manager and discuss building retail business.
1:30–2:00 pm: Optional resume review/departure.
Externship Mentor: Hayley Cox, Operations Manager
Public transportation? Blue Line to Grand & Milwaukee, then 65 Grand to Noble; coming from north or south the 9 Ashland (Grand St stop), walkable from Pink line Ashland stop
Parking? Yes – free street parking on Hubbard, Grand, and side streets. No designated handicapped spots
that I am aware of, unfortunately.
Wheelchair accessible workplace? Yes – side entrance has a ramp and there is an elevator to our office on the second floor.