Blog Posts from Zimmerman Shoes

Factory Photo Series: Stations Part 1 March 04 2016

We're proud to be a small, family operated American manufacturer. Our little old factory is a very special place to us, and that's why we're excited to bring you the Factory Photo Series.

This post's theme is stations. There are over 126 steps that go into making a pair of our shoes, and almost every step is represented by a physical space in the plant. Many of these stations have stayed exactly the same for years. Some have accumulated notes and tips by the people who have worked at each station over time. Here's a quick look at some of these stations in the plant.
 
Looking into the office, where three generations of our family have worked before us.
 
 
 The Fitting Room, where the all the pieces of the shoes' uppers and linings are fit together and stitched.
 
 
 The Fitting Room, where the all the pieces of the shoes' uppers and linings are fit together and stitched.
 
 
 The Fitting Room, where the all the pieces of the shoes' uppers and linings are fit together and stitched.
 
 
The office and the fitting room are just two of five sections of our factory, so there are more photos to come. It means so much to us to continue our family's shoemaking legacy in the same space that has been used for almost a century and half.

Talent Tuesday: Barry January 26 2016

Talent Tuesday is our weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today it's all about Barry, who's been making shoes here since the early 1960s.
 
 
 
We joke that he came with the building when our great grandfather bought it in 1962. Barry's job involves cleaning all the shoes that come off the production line, lacing them, as well as stamping and packing each shoe box. 
  
Audrey and I have many happy memories of visiting Barry when we came to the factory throughout our childhoods. He still has a couple notes that Audrey left for him when she was little. Just last week we were looking at photos of him holding my cousin when she was a baby. It's wonderful working with someone who's seen you and your siblings grow up.
 
If you want to see more of the factory, Barry, and everyone else who works here, check out this recent video from our local news station, WNEP.
 

Factory Photo Series: Time January 19 2016

We're proud to be a small, family operated American manufacturer. Our little old factory is a very special place to us, and that's why we're excited to bring you the Factory Photo Series.

This post's theme is time, and there are layers of time all over the place around here. The shoe company dates to 1888, so people have been making shoes here for a while, and it shows. Which, in our opinion, is a good thing.
 
kids shoes made in america
 
Production Control Report in the Fitting Room, where all of our shoes are stitched together. We don't use this anymore, but isn't that old font fantastic?
  
 
time cards
Where we punch in and out each day
 
  
banana stickers
Lots of breaks, lunches, and snacks over the years were taken here.
 
  
 
black and white photo
An old catalogue taped up. The model is our cousin, Becky. She has two little ones of her own now.
 
 
 
office clock
Our office clock. We actually have our own time zone; it's 10 minutes ahead of everyone else. Back in the day, when our town was full of factories, someone here decided that we should bump our clocks up by 10 minutes to beat the lunch rush and the end of day rush. There aren't really any factories in town besides ours anymore, but we still keep to that schedule. 
 
 
 
time stops
This is Kirsten's clock. You may have read about our aunt Kirsten a little while ago here. If you follow us on social media, you may also know that she passed away suddenly this past fall. This clock that hangs in the factory stopped ticking at pretty much the exact time of her passing. She LOVED looking for ghosts and orbs, and always claimed there were spirits in the factory, so it makes complete sense that she'd send us a reminder like this. 
 
Some people prefer everything to be shiny and new, but we love keeping these reminders of the people who've spent their days here, worked with our family, and made so many little pairs of shoes over the years. 
 
 

All photos by my talented sister and partner, Audrey Zimmerman

 

Factory Photo Series: Family November 25 2015

We're proud to be a small, family operated American manufacturer. Our little old factory is a very special place to us, and that's why we're excited to bring you the Factory Photo Series.

Our theme last week was Hands, and this week, fittingly for Thanksgiving, it's Family. We're so grateful to everyone involved with our shoes from the very beginning of the process to the end product to our customers and their sweet babes. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Old Family Photos, clockwise from top right: 1. Our great-grandfather Milo, Pop Pop Clair, and Dad Steve, all served as president of the company. 2. Our Nana Jane in the office. 3. An awesome group photo of everyone who made our shoes from 1972. 4. Our Pop Pop Clair. 5. Our great-grandfather Milo going over the books. 

 

American Made Shoes

The ladies of the fitting room family.

 

American Made Shoes

The measuring doorway. The four girls in our family, our two cousins, and now our cousin's children and our nephew all get their height measured and dated in this doorway in the office.

 

 

Who made your shoes?

The newest member of our shoemaking family: Misty, our new leather cutter. We're thrilled to have her on board.

 

American made kids shoes

Remember that group photo from 1972? Misty's dad Joe worked here then. All in the family!

 

 


Factory Photo Series - Hands November 20 2015

There's product, and then there's process. We think our finished product is pretty cute, and we love sharing it with our customers. But we're also really proud of our process. All of our shoes are ethically crafted in Pennsylvania at our family's historic 1888 factory. 

 

Our great-grandfather bought it in the 1960s, and it's been in our family since then. The factory is a really special place to us. It's not always pretty; there's tons of leather and metal dies and big machines, and it's old. There's nothing flashy or fancy about it. But we think that's what makes it special and interesting.

 

And then there's the people. The people who make our shoes have worked with our dad, aunt, and grandfather for an average of 20 years. They know what they're doing, and many of them have watched us grow up. 

 

The people, the factory, and our family history are all part of the process. That's why we're bringing you the Factory Photo Series to share more of that process with you. We're kicking it off with this week's theme: Hands.

 

 

american made shoes

That's actually me, Amelia, in the cutting room.

 

kids shoes made in america

Linda, fitting room

 

american made shoes

Deb, fitting room

 

kids shoes made in america

Ron, lasting room

 

shoes made in usa

Barry, packing room

 

All photos by my talented sister and partner, Audrey Zimmerman


Our Grandfather September 22 2015

 
This is our grandfather Clair. He worked in the shoe industry for his whole career. Nowadays, he's retired, but he still stops in the factory once in a while. Audrey snapped this great photo of him, and I couldn't resist sharing it here.

Our Factory June 19 2015

We recently had a photo shoot with the talented Rebecca Donohue in our family's historic 1888 factory. It was a Sunday afternoon with great light and lots of laughing.

 

Audrey and I kept cracking each other up by saying, "Sometimes we just stand in the office and look at one another. Oftentimes we sit on the conveyor belt and laugh. It's a pretty regular thing for us to just hang out here by the leather." Both of us are more comfortable behind a camera than in front of it, so we had to be a little silly to loosen up a bit.

 

Rebecca was amazing to work with, and she did a phenomenal job finding the beauty in our old factory and capturing us just being ourselves. 

 

Most of the time, machines are whirring, the phone is ringing, our team is here and working, and we have a to-do list that's a mile long. It was a pretty beautiful change to just be in this space that's so important to our family and document this moment in our company's history. 


Talent Tuesday: Mikey June 16 2015

Talent Tuesday is our weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we're featuring Mikey, who's worked here since July 12, 1989.

After Derek and Ron have lasted each shoe, it's Mikey's job to rough the leather that has been lasted under each shoe. This helps the sole of the shoe hold onto the leather when they get attached. On the right side of the photo, you can see soles lined up waiting to be matched and attached to their lasted uppers.

Mikey's always quick with a smile and a laugh, and he likes to read mystery novels, especially ones by Agatha Christie. His favorite movies are Jaws and Back to the Future, and he's always happy to cheer on the Phillies, Eagles, or Flyers. Thank you, Mikey!


Talent Tuesday: Ron June 09 2015

Talent Tuesday is our weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we’re featuring Ron, who's been here for fifteen years as a side-heel laster.

After Derek places the stitched uppers on the lasts (you can see a bunch of them in the bins behind Ron) and runs them through the toe laster, Ron's job is to run the shoes through a separate lasting machine that folds under the sides and heels.  Ron also hand-lasts all of our Stevie Sandals. Each sandal strap is inserted into the insole and folded under by hand. 

Ron is a grandfather and a Steelers fan, and he also loves a good NASCAR race. Thank you, Ron!


Talent Tuesday: Derek June 02 2015

Talent Tuesday is our weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we’re featuring Derek, our toe lasting man! 

Derek has been operating our toe lasting machine for eleven years. Derek's dad actually also worked here in lasting as well. Donna and the fitting room ladies will send the stitched uppers, just like you see in the photo, upstairs to Derek where it's his job to select the correct lasts, tack the uppers to the last, and then put each shoe through our toe lasting machine. This is a tricky job as everything has to be lined up perfectly. This is when the shoe really starts to take shape!

When he's not at the factory, you can find Derek listening to music, fishing, or rooting for the Eagles. Thank you, Derek!

 


Talent Tuesday: Donna May 26 2015 1 Comment

Talent Tuesday is our weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we’re featuring our very own Donna, who's been making shoes here for almost 20 years.

 Donna started making shoes at another shoe company in the area in 1976. We were lucky she came to us after that manufacturing facility closed. Donna takes great care of our fitting room as the forelady in charge of all stitching. Along with the other fitting room ladies, Donna sews our leather uppers and takes care of ordering supplies and inventory for her department.

Donna is a grandmother of two, gardening and canning expert, and maker of some mean apple pies and chicken dumplings. Thank you, Donna!

 


Talent Tuesday: Kathy May 19 2015

Talent Tuesday is our weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we’re featuring our very own Kathy who has thirty-four years here with us.

Among the ladies of the fitting room (Linda, Barb, and Deb), Kathy is a do-it-all kind of gal. Not only does she stitch, but she also operates our eyelet machine and applies binding to create a finished edge between the lining and the upper.

Kathy is a true music lover and collects old records. Among her favorites are Billy Joel, old jazz classics, and the Andrews sisters. She’s also a crafter, and she has a wonderful laugh! Thank you, Kathy!


Talent Tuesday: Deb May 12 2015

Talent Tuesday is our weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we're featuring Deb, who's been in the shoe industry for thirty-three years, with fifteen of them being here at our plant.
Like Barb, Deb also does top stitching (sewing our leather uppers), and she stitches our leather linings then hand trims the edges. Lining everything up perfectly is no easy task, so it's a good thing Deb is an expert. 

When she's not stitching, you can find Deb organizing and planning her annual family reunion, checking off each state on her to-visit list (she's been to 33 with Hawaii and New Mexico being her favorites) and spending time with her five grandchildren. Thank you, Deb!

Talent Tuesday: Barb May 05 2015

Talent Tuesday is our new weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we’re featuring Barb who’s known for her perfect stitching, so it’s a good thing that her job is to sew our beautiful leather uppers.

After Linda preps each piece of leather, it’s Barb’s job to line the pieces up and stitch them together. At this point, the shoe begins to take form. Even after twenty-eight years of stitching, Barb still loves shoes so much that she collects all kinds of ornamental shoes, from glass to wood to ceramic. In her spare time, you can find Barb reading biographies of notable women such as Barbara Bush, Jacki O, and Carly Fiorina.

Over her time here, Barb has probably made millions of perfect little stitches. Thank you, Barb!


Talent Tuesday: Linda April 28 2015

Talent Tuesday is our new weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we’re featuring our own lovely Linda! Linda has been in the shoe industry for thirty-two years, and the last four of those years have been here at our plant.

 

 

 

 

After the leather pieces are cut by Kirsten, Linda is the next step in the process. She operates several machines. If the pieces need to be split down or thinned where they’ll be stitched (skived), Linda does that. She also adds a bit of structure to the toe on some styles. Not only that, but she also operates the machine that cuts our cute scallop on our Mary Janes.

Linda loves to joke around, and she’s always the first one to be interested in our new styles and mock-ups as we brainstorm through them. She also loves Law and Order, knows how to make some excellent beef jerky, and throws a Halloween bash each year.


Talent Tuesday: Kirsten April 21 2015

Talent Tuesday is our new weekly feature where we introduce the people who make Zimmerman Shoes. Our manufacturer is our long-standing family business, the oldest children's shoe manufacturer in the country.

Today we're featuring Kirsten, who also happens to be our aunt! She's been at our factory for 17 years as a leather cutter, so she's the first part of the shoemaking process. She loves to make people laugh and is always cracking us up with one-liners or singing along to the radio. I know most of the words to most of the songs by ABBA and Queen because of her! 

Kirsten's job entails evaluating the leather for quality and using dies to cut out each piece that goes into the shoe's construction. She cuts the uppers, and most of our styles have a leather lining that must be cut as well. All in all, there could be 12-16 pieces of leather per pair of shoes, and Kirsten cuts each one.

When you factor in all those pieces, and the fact that some leather has stretch and has to be cut on the bias, Kirsten's job can get tricky. BUT, she does it all with a joke and song, and that's what makes her great. Thanks, Kirsty!