Brixton People: Jayanti, shoe cobbler

Written by on March 1, 2012 in Brixton People, Brixton Stories - 5 Comments

Photo by Amy Baker

Amy Baker from London’s Stories interviews Jayanti, whose shoe cobbling business in the Reliance Arcade has been serving Brixton’s broken shoes for ten years

I am originally from Kisumu in Kenya, East Africa but I have lived in London now for 40 years.

Me and my family moved here in 1971. I had been living in Nairobi and wanted to start my own business but because I am a British Citizen, I was unable to get a licence to do this. I could have got a licence to open a business somewhere else but it would have been too difficult so we moved to England.

When I first arrived I lived in Southwark and I worked as a machinist at an upholsterers for a long time before eventually opening my shop in Brixton Arcade about ten years ago. I’ve lived in Brixton now for close to 20 years.

London and England are very good. The law and order here is good and the people are nice.

Everywhere has problems. You just have to remember that it is important to look after yourself wherever you go, in whatever city you are in. The weather can be difficult but you just get used to it like everyone else does. It doesn’t bother me any more.

I don’t really miss Kenya. It was such a long time ago that it seems like a different life completely. I was young, only 30, when I left and I haven’t been back since.

Brixton just keeps getting better and busier. It’s a 24-hour place, every hour of the day people are on the high street, shopping, chatting, waiting for a bus. It just seems to keep on getting busier. The people in Brixton are friendly and because I’ve been here a long time, I¹ve got to know a lot of faces.

My Father and I had a shoe making business ­ similar to what I do now. The business was in Nairobi where I lived between 1965 ­-1970.

My favourite place in London is where I live, at home with my family.

 

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5 Comments on "Brixton People: Jayanti, shoe cobbler"

  1. Michelle October 24, 2015 at 12:09 pm ·

    THE WORST EXPERIENCE AND THE RUDEST VERBAL ASSAULT. This is the worst shoe repair in London. I have been going to this guy for 10 years and he has always been bad tempered and rude but the store was convenient so I kept returning. Over the past year, his attitude has worsened, along with his shoddy key cutting (keys that don’t work and then he refuses to replace) and leather repairs (shoe heel leather that falls off and he refuses to replace), culminating today in what I can only describe as verbal assault. After paying £15 for straps to be replaced on my leather bag, only to find he’d used a belt and left the belt holes on the leather bag straps, he then verbally abused me in the shop, told me to f**k off and refused to refund my money after admitting that he lied to me about explaining the repair. Really, the most upsetting experience and the worst repair, and now I’m left with a bag I can’t use and £15 out of pocket. AVOID AT ALL COSTS. There is another shoe repair guy at the end of Reliance Arcade – I will be trying him next and urging all people to boycott this business.

  2. rachel December 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm ·

    but where is he based….address please anyone!

    • j January 10, 2013 at 9:46 am ·

      He’s based in the Reliance Arcade – just off the high street, near barclays and the popcorn shop…
      He’s a fantastic cobbler and a real craftsmen whose prices are extremely reasonable. I wouldn’t take my shoes anywhere else!

  3. Frederica July 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm ·

    My boyfriend has been going to him for years, he values his quality work and his friendly, cheerful nature, a true gentleman, its always a pleasure to visit him

  4. Najma March 2, 2012 at 7:34 am ·

    This guy is absolutely lovely and the best cobbler in Brixton.

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