The Shoe Snob Leaves UK — Goes to NYC

Photo Courtesy of SkyScraperPage
Photo Courtesy of SkyScraperPage

This is a personal post about my life and where its been and where its going so if you only came for shoes, this will not be for you.

So, I have been in the UK since September 19th, 2010 and sure enough my stay here is coming to an unfortunate end as soon as next week. I will then take a small European tour and at the end will find myself ending up in the Big Apple aka New York City.

Many of you might be shocked by this so allow me to explain how my life has arrived at this point in time. But first I will say that this will not change anything with regards to my business with the exception that if you go to our London Showroom you will no longer find me.

That being I arrived in the UK on an EEA marriage visa to an Italian lady who is also the mother of my child. Sadly we did not last as a couple and took separate paths about 2.5 years ago. My EEA residence visa ran up February 2016 and I applied for another 5 year stay based off of the fact that she was still living in the UK with our son and was attending University here in London (which gives me rights to residency). However, the authority agency of border control didnt bother to look at my application until after the Brexit vote and surely after it passed, my application was rejected. While not going into their reasoning, I immediately made an appeal in July 2016 upon which I was instructed that I would be provided a court date in about 6 months time and then the court date could be up to 5 months after that. Its now been 10 months and I have still yet to get that court date. All the while making me stuck in the UK without being able to travel (which hasnt been great for a growing business as one can imagine).

Without getting too personal with regards to the UK’s immigration issues, I will say that this whole situation has made me grown extremely tired of the UK and all of the issues that are going on here and how it affects my daily life, not only for business but also personally. While I do not agree with foreigners moving to a country and simply staying in a small circle of life that keeps them safe in their own culture and not attempting to assimilate into the society that they moved to nor bothering learning the language, I will say that I can understand how and why many of them do it here in the UK, as a foreigner myself I often dont feel welcome nor truly accepted in this country (not saying by the people but rather not accepted/felt welcome by the government). One would think that as someone that came to this country, started his own business that brings in foreign income and employs British/European people and asks nothing of the government, that a residency visa to continue my progress in building the British economy would be easily given. But apparently not.

While this might seem like a complaining post, let me assure you that it is not as this whole situation has taught me many things, opened my eyes to many things and it is an experience that I wouldn’t trade for any other and while very difficult, am very appreciative for. I believe that everything happens for a reason and am grateful to experience this hardship that in the end has only made me stronger.

That being, with this waiting game that has been going on since July of last year, my ex and I sat down recently and decided that as times were tough for her (not working and just going to school and me not earning enough to provide for two separate lives (for 3) here in London), which inevitably affects my son, that it was better if I allowed her to move back to Italy (with our son) where she got a job offer and has her mother to help out with our son. Of course, this tough decision has two drastic affects to my life: 1. Makes my son become far away from me. and 2. Makes it so that I will be no longer welcome here in the UK as she is the person that my visa was dependent upon. (I cannot apply for an Entrepreneurship visa as I do not have 200k in my personal bank account). Sacrificing my own well being for the well being of my son, while not easy as it meant separating from him, was a no-brainer as there is nothing more important than my son’s happiness and well being (and the fact that he appears to be very happy in Italy makes it all worth it for me). So I quickly had to decide what to do next.

I first thought about moving to Spain, in the town of my factory and the whopping 25,000 inhabitants, so that I could go work and practically live in the factory to make my shoes better on a daily basis as well as be closer in proximity to my son, thus killing two birds with one stone. But after getting dicked around by some Spanish lawyers here in London for the last few months, I only just found out that it would mean that I would have to go back to the US for a minimum of 6 months before applying in order to prove legal residency of a country. And the visa application takes around 3 months. That being, I would have to go back to the US for 9 months. I told myself, ‘if I am going to have to be there for 9 months, then I am not moving anywhere afterward and I will simply plant my feet back into the ground of my home country and start making it happen with a US expansion of the business.’

It was always my plan to one day move to NYC and run a ‘US side of my business’ and apparently that day is simply coming a lot faster than expected. That being, I am moving to NYC with the intention of setting up a US subsidiary that caters strictly to the American markets (i.e. North, South and Central). Much like in London it will be my intention to find a showroom in NYC that I am loosely based at whereby we can take appointments to assist clients wishing to try/purchase our shoes/place orders etc. Realistically speaking it might take 3-4 months to get that up and running (possibly more) but am already in talks with someone to have a trunk show in NYC at the end of June and some other plans in the pipeline.

My UK business will remain the same and nothing will change in terms of pricing/quality/logistics etc. This is simply, me moving to the US with the aspirations to launch a US side of the business and take our company to the next level. I will then be able to travel again and if you live outside of London will hopefully be seeing me in a town near you as I will commence my trunk show travelling again. So do be on the look out for our impending trips.

If you are NYC based and know anyone or are in the fields below, and would like to offer help/advice, I would gladly not turn you down

  1. Real estate for an apartment for myself (fyi, I am not rich though so cannot afford mad crazy prices)
  2. An accountant/facilitator who can assist with setting up a subsidiary of our business in the US, also for my personal accountancy
  3. And/or would possibly be looking to hop on board with my company for getting the business up and running (within in the next couple of months, not straight away)

Then do let me know at

Looking forward to this new chapter of my life and please do not worry about me. I am A-okay, mainly because instead of seeing my son every other weekend for 2 rushed days, I can travel to Italy to see him every 2 months and spend a full 7-10 days of quality time with him, and that is what matters most!


Justin, ‘The Shoe Snob’


13 thoughts on “The Shoe Snob Leaves UK — Goes to NYC”

  1. Take care man, hope to see you again soon ! You would be certainly missed here in London but hope to be digitally connected with you and your blog without any changes 🙂

  2. Been following your business and blog for a while now. Bureaucracy can be very frustrating and this is just another case of things that are going mighty wrong here in Europe (not saying it’s much better elsewhere).
    However, good luck with your expansion plans. Hope to catch you some day at a trunk show.

  3. Obviously none of this could have been easy but here’s hoping some good things come out of these changes. Best wishes.

  4. I am sorry that you ate going through a tough time Justin and I applaud you for being so open and honest here, I wish more people did that online. I think it’s nuts that they are giving you such a hard time with your UK application but sadly I am not surprised. Hopefully this will be a really positive move for you and it will allow you to sabbatical it up in Italy whenever possible to spend time with your son. I wish you nothing but the best of luck!! your friend — Georgette

  5. I am sorry too for what happened to you and your family,but,as someone already said,I hope too that good things will come out of this changes and I am quite sure it will !
    Thank you for sharing with us and bravo having made it,it is brave and very friendly!
    Good luck …Antoine

  6. Rolf Holzapfel

    Justin, wishing you all the best for that new chapter in your life.

    “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.”

  7. Sorry to hear that stoey, Justin. We’re getting mad here in Europe… and I am particularly sorry for your experience with Spanish lawyers… being one of them myself. A pity not having you here in Spain…

    But here’s to an enormous succes for you! Good luck and all best wishes!

  8. I’m sorry to have missed you at the Trunk Show, I had to return to Amsterdam. Brexit is affecting us all personally. I wish you all the best in NY and hopefully look forward to meeting you soon again in London. Take care,

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