Years ago, while I was exploring the myriad of narrow streets in Venice, I stumbled upon a window display of the most beautiful shoes that I have ever seen. It was the shop window of a Venetian shoemaker. The shop was located somewhere between the Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge. I could not tell you exactly where the store was, but I can recall, in great detail, each pair of shoes that I laid eyes on that day.
This particular cobbler designed handmade shoes. My husband encouraged me to consider meeting with the cobbler to have a pair custom made. After all, what better souvenir to bring home from Italy than a handmade pair of Italian leather shoes? The thought was enticing. Unfortunately, at the time, it was not in the budget.
Even though it has been years since I came across that shop in Venice, I have never forgotten it. Nor have I ever been able to shake the thought of owning a pair of custom made shoes out of my head. I have always thought that the next time I find myself in Venice, that I would seek out that cobbler and have a pair designed to meet my needs.
The good news is that I no longer have to travel to Venice to have a pair of shoes custom made.
I am thrilled with the pair of Birkenstocks Gizehs that you (Custom Made Birkenstocks) customized for me.
The gold crocodile print is stunningly unique. The Gizhes can easily be dressed up or dressed down. The gold and the pearl will go with everything. The best part is, after a few days, the Birkenstock footbed will form to my foot, just like a pair of handmade Italian shoes. Maybe even better because, after all, the footbeds are Birkenstock! Nothing beats a Birkenstock, in my humble opinion.
Thank you for my one of a kind Gold Crocodile Gizehs. Your craftsmanship, as always, is simply the finest. You have opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that I have when it comes to creating other custom Birkenstocks. I am not sure exactly what is next on my request list. But, once I narrow down the style, color, and pattern of what I want, I will be sure to give you a call!
NOTE: If you would like to contact Michelangelo at Custom Made Birkenstocks to discuss having him customize a pair of Birkenstocks for you, give him a call at 1-708-453-4900.
To see more of Michelangelo's craftsmanship, please read these blogs:
- Birkenstock Recrafts by Michelangelo
- Birkenstock Diva
- White Sole Birkenstocks
Once again, I opted to incorporate Birkenstocks as part of my Halloween Costume. Wearing comfortable Birkenstocks makes Trick-Or-Treating so much more fun.
This year, I busted out my high school cheerleading uniform to wear as a costume. After all, what better way to embarrass your kids at their school's parade, then to wear a "vintage" cheerleading outfit?
To complete the outfit, I added my kid's soccer socks. I feel like the red and white striped soccer socks helped modernize a 25+ year old uniform.
Who ever said that Gina Mama does not wear Socks with her 'Stocks? These photos are proof that I wear socks with Birkenstocks. Nothing wrong with wearing socks with Birkenstock high tops!!
NOTE: To read my blog on what I think about wearing socks with Birkenstocks, click here.
In the fashion of David Letterman’s famous 10 Top Lists, I bring to you Gina Mama’s “Top 10 Ways To You Know That You Are a Birkenstock Addict”. This list was created with the help of other Birkenstock fanatics that follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you to everyone who answered.
Without further ado……
Top 10 Ways To You Know That You Are a Birkenstock Addict
10. It is the only brand you wear, all year round, even during periods of inclement weather. Rain, sleet, or snow….you are sporting your Birks like a champ.
9. You spend more time figuring out which Birkenstocks you will wear each day and less time on your outfit. You might have so many pairs that selecting just one causes a bit of anxiety. In which case, you have to rotate your Birkenstocks during the day based on the activity.
8. You have a pair of “dress Birks” that you save for those special “formal” occasions.
My dress Birkenstocks
7. You preach the Gospel of "The Birkenstock Way" to every soul that crosses your path and try to convert them.
6. You customize your Birkenstocks to make them even better. For example, you turn boring brown Temaras into a pair of sparkly ruby red goodness. And you cannot comprehend the reason that Birkenstock never made this colorway in the first place!!!
5. You secretly convince yourself that wearing socks with Birkenstocks is fashionable, so that you can get away with wearing them when the temperature drops.
4. You have memorized your favorite cobbler’s phone number…in case of any and all Birkenstock emergencies.
3. Wearing non Birkenstock shoes hurt your feet.
2. In an effort to destash and make room for the new seasonal Birkenstocks, you list your rarely worn Birkenstocks on eBay, and break into a cold sweat and start to feel panicky that they might actually sell.
1. When you start your own webpage dedicated to all the reasons that you love Birkenstocks because your family has told you to stop talking about your Birks.
Are you a Birkenstock Addict? Shoot me a message. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one.
I have not posted a blog in awhile because I have been utilizing every bit of my time and energy focusing on my fitness and nutrition. On July 4th, 2018, I started the 80 Day Obsession (80DO) program and made a commitment to complete it…no matter what. This meant that I had to put other hobbies and blogging on to the back burner.
What is 80 Day Obsession (80DO)? It is a Beachbody workout and nutrition program created by fitness expert Autumn Calabrese. 80DO, consists of three “phases”, each phase lasting 4 weeks, and a final “peak week”. It has one working out for 13 weeks straight and every workout program is different.
On September 29, 2018, I completed the entire program!! Despite everything — work, chores, sick kids, catching a cold, one kid breaking a bone, attending a destination wedding, and having a house guest — I did it!! I completed every single workout AND I followed the nutrition plan.
I am so proud of my hard work, that I am sharing it with the world. The 80DO workouts are NOT a piece of cake. They are some of the hardest workouts that I have ever done and I have completed a lot of Beachbody workouts. To name a few, I have finished P90X, Insanity, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Chalene Extreme, and PiYo. Even though I have done multiple rounds of the aforementioned programs, I have never gotten results like I have with 80DO. 80DO has changed my life for the better, similar to how Birkenstocks have changed my life.
A major component of 80DO is the nutrition piece. Autumn has created a “timed nutrition’ program that tells one what to eat, how much of each macro nutrient to eat, and when to eat it. And the workouts are so intense and challenging, that one is eating like a horse for 13 weeks. Seriously! I ate all day, everyday, for 80 straight days.
I am not going to sugarcoat it, 80DO challenged me in new and different ways, like breaking-in a new pair of Birkenstocks. I was eating more than I have ever eaten on a daily basis, which at times was a struggle. Some days, I pushed through physical and mental challenges to get through hour long workouts. Since I refuse to be a couch potato, I powered through every single day and learned that I CAN do hard things!!
When I started this workout program, my pie in the sky, was to lose weight. During the entire first phase of the program, I did not get on the scale because I was instructed, by Autumn, to focus on “non scale victories”. Non scale victories are changes in your body and mind that have improved and do not reflect a number the scale. When it was time for me to step on the scale between Phase 1 and Phase 2, I thought about all the non scale victories that I had experienced thus far. But all those victories melted away when I saw the number of the scale go up! I will be honest, seeing the number of the scale increase, was extremely hard for me to digest.
Since there is no such thing as a free lunch, I continued on. I was not going to reach my fitness goals unless I persevered. I was determined not to get on that scale again until, at least, day 80. I have not yet weighed in because I feel like I do not have to. The non scale victories that I have observed are rewarding enough.
Here is some food for thought….I have literally toned up from my earlobes down to my tippy toes. I could list at least a baker’s dozen non scale victories that I have experienced in 13 weeks of 80DO. But, I am going to just focus on just one. The biggest non scale victory that I have noticed, and that I do not want to admit, is related to my Birkenstocks.
Yeah, that’s right. I have a Birkenstock related non scale victory. Are you sitting down? I need to make sure that you are sitting down because you are not going to believe this when I tell you. My entire body, including my feet, have toned up so much that I can now fit into a narrow width Birkenstock. OMG!!! I cannot BELIEVE it. Narrow width Birkenstocks have been my forbidden fruit. There have been so many Birkenstocks, made in narrow width only, that I had to forgo because I needed regular width.
Over the last few weeks, I noticed that my regular width Birkenstocks were beginning to fit me more loosely. I began having to adjust the buckles to tighten the straps and then I realized that the shape of my foot had changed, ever so slightly, as well. Since my foot looked slimmer, I took out a pair of narrow width Birkenstocks, from the back of my closet, and slipped them on. And they fit..SO MUCH better!!
This Birkenstock related non scale victory was as sweet as honey. It has opened the door to a greater variety of Birkenstocks for me. Imagine where my collection will go now that I can fit into narrow width Birkenstocks too!! I can take my collection to places that I could not before, since Birkenstock often only makes certain styles or models in narrow width.
I realize that comparing regular and narrow width Birkenstocks is like comparing apples to oranges. Don’t get me wrong, I will always default to regular width. Regular width Birkenstocks will forever be the apple of my eye. However, knowing that I can toss a few oranges, or narrow width Birkenstocks, in to the mix is like icing on the cake.
Autumn encourages individuals to celebrate their non scale victories and to practice self care with non food items. No cake, no cookies, no alcohol. Rather, celebrate by having a massage, getting a pedicure, or buying a new pair of work out leggings.
You know how I celebrate my non scale victories and practice self care? Yeah, you guessed it. I buy myself Birkenstocks. I look at it as multi tasking. I treat myself to Birkenstocks and they take care of my feet!! Since I think Birkenstocks are the cream of the crop in the shoe world, I have celebrated the completion of each Phase of 80DO with a pair of new Birkenstocks.
After Phase 1 I treated myself to these Birkenstocks:
With my completion of Phase 2, I felt like I deserved these Birkenstocks:
Finally, I celebrated my completion of 80 Day Obsession by purchasing these beauties:
And guess what....I ordered them in 38 Narrow!!!! OK, I will be honest, I ordered them in narrow (mostly) because they were not yet available in regular width. But, also, as a reminder that 80 DO has changed my life and my feet! I did not have to forgo these beauties just because there were only available in narrow width!!
Now that I have completed 80DO, you might be wondering what’s next for Gina Mama. While I realize that variety is the spice of life, I have never gotten results from a home workout program as I have from 80 DO. So, I think I am going to do a second round of the program. I will continue to use the motivation of purchasing a pair of new Birkenstocks to help get me through each phase of the program.
This time, however, I am going to toss my scale out the window and measure my non scale victories on how my Birkenstocks fit me. Let’s hope that my foot does not change that much more, because recrafting my entire collection to a different size or width would make me go bananas.
I have been labeled many things since starting this blog. For example, I have been called
It was not until last month that Sandy, from Sandy’s Birkenstock Boutique, told me that I was a “Birkenstock Diva”. She did so in a fun and joking way, after I had just confided in her about my wild and crazy idea to customize my rivet Birkenstocks.
I am totally and completely obsessed with Birkenstock’s Crafted Rivet Collection this season. The aesthetics of small crafted rivets and the larger disc rivets add so much elegance to their classic sandals and clogs. Simply put, rivets are riveting!
My first pair of rivet Birkenstocks were the Avario Gizehs.
The Avario is a greyish color upper with beautiful metal rivets adorning the t-strap. Absolutely eye catching. I love the Avario color, it is the perfect neutral and goes with anything.
My next pair was the crafted rivets in the Boston model, also in Avario. I love wearing Bostons in the fall and winter. When I saw the Bostons adorned with gorgeous rivets, I had to purchase a pair ASAP.
I felt like Birkenstock FINALLY designed a Boston with some feminine aspects to it and I was not going to let these sell out before I added a pair to my collection. Plus, buying them in the summer would give me plenty of time to break them in for the Fall.
I loved my Avario Gizehs and Bostons so much, that I decided to buy them in the rose color as well. Birkenstock was only offering these beauties in two colors for Spring/Summer 2018, and the addict/connoisseur/collector/Diva in me, had to have both/all/everyone ever made.
I searched high and low for the best price for the rose color rivet Birkenstocks. I found some online and snagged them. I was stoked to receive them. However, I was filled with disappointment when I opened the box and saw the rose color leather in the flesh. The first thought that came to my mind was Pepto Bismol.
Not the color pink that I want for my shoes. I do not want to be reminded of heartburn, indigestion, nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea every time that I look down at my Birkenstocks.
The retailer from where I purchased the rivets in rose leather did not accept returns. No problem, I thought, I will list them on Poshmark and eBay and they will sell like hotcakes. Goodness was I wrong!! For weeks I had a pair of rose Gizehs, Arizonas, and Bostons cross listed on Poshmark and eBay. They sat and sat AND SAT on Poshmark and Ebay. No one liked the pink. No one would touch them. Just like no one would want to touch a rancid piece of moldy fish for fear of food poisoning.
At one point, I even had these rose rivets listed at bargain prices. STILL, no bids, no offers, and very few likes. I suppose “Pretty in Pink” is too 1986 for today’s generation of strong, independent women. If the Pepto shade of pink was not what made people avoid these rivets like the plague, maybe it was the white soles that soured people’s stomachs. You all know how I feel about white sole Birkenstocks and, based on the comments that I have received, I am not the only one who feels this way.
One night, just before falling alseep, a light bulb went off in my head.
I could dye/paint/color the leather and have them resoled!!! The pink was light enough that I could color them just about any shade darker that I desired.
I emailed Michelangelo at Custom Made Birkenstocks and asked him if he could dye the leather when I sent the Birkenstocks to him for recrafting. Michelangelo was willing to do the recraft, but wanted me to color the Birkenstocks....after I removed the soles. This meant I was going to need to cook my Birkenstocks! (COOKING??!! OH NO, my Birkenstock addiction has taken on a whole new level!)
I called Michelangelo to discuss this further. He gave me very clear instructions on how to remove the soles off my Birks at home, using my oven. I know, I am "cooking" Birkenstocks…but it won’t upset your tummy. Bear with me….I promise that this is going somewhere….
He also recommended that I consider using Tarrago shoe cream to color my Birkenstocks instead of using leather dye. He advised that Tarrago has a high pigment content in the cream and would likely stain the pink nubuck well, without the mess of dyeing leather. The best part is that Tarrago has over 96 colors of shoe cream from which to choose. That is 96 colors better than the current Pepto Bismol pink on the Birkenstocks in question.
I had a project to do and it was going to take several steps to complete.
ITEMS NEEDED FOR PROJECT
REMOVING THE SOLES
It was a fairly easy process to do at home. The only obstruction that I encountered, was when the toe post melted on the Gizehs. At first I was frustrated by the melted toe post, then I realized that I was given the opportunity to change the toe post from the awful white to anything else!
COLOR/STAIN THE UPPERS
Once the soles were removed, the artistic process began. This was the easy part. I chose a unique color for each shoe.
STEPS TO COLOR THE SOLES
The shoe cream was super easy to use. It stained the uppers just like the color in the bottle. There was no guessing what color the shoe cream might end up looking like, as you might experience with leather dye or leather paint. The shoe cream dried much quicker than leather dye or leather paint. Plus, the cream was a breeze to clean up. Any cream left on the rivets was simply wiped off with a rag, leaving no stains. If any of the cream dripped onto the footbed, I was able to wipe it off with a cotton ball and non acetone nail polish remover. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
SHIP BIRKS TO CUSTOM MADE BIRKENSTOCKS FOR RECRAFTING/RESOLING
The leather color cream dried so quickly, that I was able to ship Michelangelo the Birkenstocks on the same day that they were stained. Michelangleo had the resoles and recrafts sent back to me within a week! He suggested that once I received his shipment, that I seal the color on to the leather uppers to prevent fading, scratching, or peeling.
I already had a bottle of Frye Suede and Nubuck leather protector on hand. I have used this product on my Frye boots and it works just as Frye states “This water-based, non-aerosol spray pump is specially formulated to protect suede, nubuck and other breathable fabrics from any discoloration or staining. Specially formulated to minimize any change in color or texture of the leather or fabric.”
From personal experience, the spray had never ruined a pair of my Frye boots and I was confident that it would work well on my Birkenstocks. I sprayed each pair with the protectant and let the uppers dry overnight in the garage.
THE FINAL PRODUCT
These unsettling pink leather Birkenstocks with rivets, spent more time listed on Poshmark and eBay, than it took for me to complete the aforementioned project. Within less than two weeks, my three pairs of Pepto Bismol pink Birkenstocks, had a complete makeover and were priceless. These Birkenstocks, which I could not resell for the life on me on Poshmark and eBay, now had people drooling over them. I customized these riveted Birkenstocks to the color palette that should have been offered by Birkenstock in the first place.
Here are the before and after pictures:
I could not have completed the customization of my Birkenstocks without the help of Michelangelo! As always, a huge thank you to Michelangelo at Custom Made Birkenstocks for his ongoing attention to detail and his high quality craftsmanship, as well as his GREAT suggestions!
The Birkenstock Avario rivets are amazing. However, the Pepto Bismol pink ones with white soles are stomach churning awful. I am no Birkenstock Diva. A Birkenstock Diva would rudely demand that someone cater to her request to create these Birkenstocks that I customized. No, I am not a Diva. Rather, I would like to think of myself as a Birkenstock "Color Artist".
After all, I was able to take three pairs of acidosis pink leather Birkenstocks and tailor them to my style, simply by changing the colors. The colors that I stained these Birkenstocks are a million times more soothing and digestible compared to the original Pepto pink leather. The color stains that I selected, helps to showcase the rivets and make they stand out in a very unique way.
Birkenstock, I am more than happy to offer you color suggestions for upcoming releases. Clearly, I have the talent for it. You know how to contact me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you happen to be a size 38, I have a pair of rivet Madrids that I customized in a beautiful red. I just listed them on Poshmark. Grab 'em before they are gone and you can be a Diva too! Here is the link.
My friend liked my customized rivet Birkenstocks so much, she requested that I color a pair Hunter Green for her. Who's next? What color would you select? Message me.