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My Story – The 5 Year Plan: The Year of Transition – England-Meeting G&G

Dean Girling and Tony Gaziano

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Being in England was surreal. I still remember the emotions I was feeling while visiting. Like I was in a dream. Here is this magical place (England) that you think of as an American that has never traveled to Europe, watching films like Harry Potter and whatnot, yet it is not at all like what we (many Americans) tend to think of when we think of the British and the country of England. It is just like anywhere else really, which is not a bad thing. But when you are young and naive and think places are magical, it can be a quick slap in the face! I found it rough around the edges, no fancy accents and very real, not magical at all in the cities, not Brighton at least. Pretty in scenery, for sure, but not magical. It was quite the eye opener really. But I embraced it and said to myself, I am going to love it here. This will be my new life.

So thefirst thing that I did was email Tony and asked for a time to come up. Now to put this into perspective, I was in Brighton which is one hour South of London on the fast train. And G&G was in Kettering which is one hour North of London on a fast train. And let me tell you that the trains are not cheap in England, especially those that go to Kettering. Now while you are thinking that it is only a two hour trip, one must not forget that getting through London takes its time. Door to door was nearly 4 hours. Remember this for what comes next.

So, I go to meet Tony and Dean to give them my pitch on why I wanted to work for them. I was completely honest and told them of my grand plans to start my own shoe line but wanting to learn from the best so that I could try and be the best too (of course in a different part of the industry though). They looked at my Stefano shoe and told me that it looked that I had the ability sure, but needed quite a bit of refinement (i.e. lots of practice) in order to make a pair of G&G shoes. They told me that they could not really take me on as an apprentice as they had just hired Daniel Wegan but offered their space and materials for me to come any time and work on my skills before they could take me on. Huge bummer but was the realistic outcome due to my lack of ability.

While this offer was very kind of them to open their doors I knew that I could not rely on this when I eventually moved to England because I was going to have bills to pay and that 4 hour commute (one way) was detrimental, to say the least. So I put that in the back of my mind and thought of new ways to make it in England. I told myself, ‘My future is in London. I have to make it to London. There I can make a name for myself and make things happen.’ So that was my goal, to make it to London.

During this trip, I proposed to my girlfriend, she said yes and we planned that we would get married in July in Seattle and then I would move to England in the Autumn. I then went back to Seattle. This was February 2010.

Dean and I being silly in a pub after a hard day’s work! (many years later)

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