Installed since October 2018 rue des Paradoux in the Carmes district, Jean-Emmanuel Pialoux has swapped the cassock for the apron. Alongside his employee Nicolas, he multiplies the projects. Snapshot of a restless.
“More cicada than ant”. Jean-Emmanuel may assert it, hard to believe watching him gesticulate. As soon as he crossed the doorstep, he was already leaving. “We’ll be better off there to discuss,” says the shoemaker, just off his scooter. Not really the kind to grill under the sun. “Over there” is the sneaker workshop, located a few dozen meters further down the street from the shop. Once the premises have been opened by Nicolas, the only employee of the company, we go down to the basement. Downstairs, a brick cellar where the two craftsmen make their pairs of sneakers. Launched in 2020 on the initiative of Nicolas, the branch is developing rapidly. However, by his own admission, Jean-Emmanuel said he was “a task” in this area two years ago. And not knowing anything about the shoemaking trade a few years ago.
Long hair rolled up in a bun, three-day beard and hooded sweatshirt over his shoulders, Jean-Emmanuel traveled before settling in the Pink City nine years ago. If she was born in Paris, the cicada, who has kept her love of PSG from her visit to the capital, has flown to the four parts of the world, in no less than twelve countries. “I’ve done all the continents except Oceania”, slips Jean-Emmanuel. Returning to France, he entered the seminary in 2006 in Toulon in order to become a priest. When he was ordained, more than seven years after training, Jean-Emmanuel finally gave up. “When the deadline arrived, I realized that I was not ready to make this decision,” he explains.
The click at a shoemaker in 2015
Then followed a short career of two years as a consultant in consulting in Toulouse. Very quickly, Jean-Emmanuel got tired of his Excel spreadsheets. “It was unbearable to wonder what my job was for,” he recalls. The click took place in 2015. Rue de Metz, a stone’s throw from the future location of his own shop, Jean-Emmanuel pushes the door of a shoemaker “to make a simple hole in my belt”, he recalls. The anecdote amuses Nicolas, who seems to realize how far his boss has come since. He immediately falls under the spell of this manual trade, which combines the beautiful with the useful. A sensitivity “to aesthetics and authenticity” that Jean-Emmanuel had already had the opportunity to explore during the seminar. Inspired by this shoemaker, he insisted that a bootmaker at the end of his career working in Muret teach him his art, which he did for two years. The apprentice bootmaker completes his training with a tour of France, a real companionship which sees him criss-crossing the country to learn from contact with craftsmen.
In 2018, that’s it, Jean-Emmanuel opened his own boutique: Le Bottier Toulousain, rue des Paradoux in Toulouse. The last one closed in 2008. “You just have to understand what people expect”, says who is now the father of two children aged 2 and 4 about this revival. When asked about their ability to undertake, the business school graduate takes the place of the craftsman for a moment: “it is the opportunities that create the projects”, he says. And Jean-Emmanuel is teeming with ideas and inventiveness. From “Toulousaines” (a new pair of sandals), to “Space Jordan 1” (sneakers specially created for Thomas Pesquet), one thing is certain, the cicada has not finished singing.