Shoemaker Carlos Pinto was born in East Timor, but seeing better prospects in Bali, moved here 23 years ago to carve out a new future in the footwear industry. The 42-year-old father of four shared his day with The Bali Times’ Arga Sagitarini

My days start at 5am, but if I’ve been up working all night I’ll get up around 8am. There are seven people living in our house in Tuban, and it’s a family tradition that we all have breakfast together, usually just bread and milk.

I start the working day by checking on the supplies at the shop for making shoes, whether there’s enough or not, and if not I’ll make a list of what I need and buy the materials. The shop is beside our house, which is handy, because occasionally I need my wife to take over when I go to the markets looking for materials. Usually, though, she stays at home and cooks and cleans and looks after the children.

I found out how to make shoes from a television program, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to try do it myself, which is what I did. At first it was difficult and I often ended up with a mess, but I kept following the process of designing, cutting and sewing in order to make a good pair of shoes. I took part in a government-run program that teaches people skills – I learned more about the art of shoemaking there.

I chose to come to Bali because I knew the island was growing rapidly due to tourism, and I saw good prospects and wanted to be part of that future. I was sure I would be more successful as a shoemaker in Bali than if I stayed in East Timor. So I left my family and hometown and started to build a new life here, and this is where I met my wife, Rudyawati, who’s from Surabaya. The eldest of our four children is 22 now and she’s married and lives in her own house.

I’ve no plans to go back to East Timor. My life is in Bali now. I don’t really know what happened to my family in East Timor. I haven’t contacted them since I moved here.

A lot of people have come to me wanting to help and to learn how to make shoes, because there aren’t many people in Bali doing it. Right now I employ four shoemakers at the shop.

It’s good to be a shoemaker in Bali. It’s a strong market and business is good. I have a lot of customers, most of whom are locals but some are foreigners. The shoes I make cost less than shoes in shops and markets, and shoe shops and distributors place orders with me to make their designs; I have my own designs, too. All my customers get the same price – factory price – whether they are locals or foreigners. My shoes are priced from Rp150,000 (US$16.66) to Rp5 million. Shoes made from crocodile skin are the most expensive. Generally about 25 percent of the price is what I make. It’s not much, but it’s enough for us to get by, to buy what we need and pay for the children’s education.

I use molds to make my shoes, and now I have a lot of molds because of all the different designs. Unfortunately there’s no mold maker in Bali, so when customers want me to make a new design, I have to order a new mold from Java.

Most of my shoes are made from leather, and only the best will do. The leather can be from Indonesia or Australia. I also use goatskin, snakeskin and others, but these are best used for making wallets, while leather is best for shoes.

The shop closes at 5pm and we all go home. I like to spend the evenings with my 10-year-old daughter, who is very naughty but very lovable. We watch the television together for about an hour or so. But work is not yet over, because after we all have dinner together, it’s back to the workshop until about 2am to fill the unfinished orders.

I believe you have to work hard at something so that you can have a good life. I found my way with shoemaking, and I love it. I can work and still be near by family. This job won’t make me rich, but it’s good enough for me: food for the family and time to spend with them.

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