Meet the Neighbors: Craftstitute

At the Aurora Shoe Company, we passionately support small business and handmade and local goods. As a visitor of our blog, we thought that you might feel the same way. In our Meet the Neighbors series we're featuring businesses and people who reflect our own values and whom we feel lucky to call neighbors and friends.

I walked into Craftstitute in Ithaca knowing that I'd like it.  The craft school, which opened its doors exactly one year ago, offers a huge range of classes and workshops, ranging from edible things like cheese and coffee, to slightly more obscure crafts like indigo fermentation and a meditative line drawing class, appropriately named Zentangle.  Of course, there's lots of sewing, knitting, dying and various other making in between.   It's the kind of place where people of all levels and abilities can come together to enjoy shared passions or to learn new ones.  Some of the workshops progress over multiple sessions, and others are in and out, with a piece of your own handiwork to walk out the door with. 

Craftstitute aims to bring people together to create community around creative pursuits, but also to work at re-building a sense of self-sufficiency that our culture has grown away from.  The sewing machines at Craftstitute are named after beloved grandmothers, a touch that seems quaint and sweet, but also ironic and empowering.  If grandma didn't have to rely on countries half way across the world to clothe or feed her, maybe we don't have to either.  

Robin, who calls herself one of the Co-Ringleaders showed me around during drop-in crafting time (which is free) and chatted while she worked on some knitting along with her own small business venture, MiMBY (short for Made in My Back Yard).  The bags are made from fabric that she often dyes or block prints herself, along with full grain leather straps made from our own scrap leather.  She offers classes, teaching people how to make these bags, and also offers them for sale on her Etsy site.  

Robin Tilling

Every sewing machine at Craftstitute is named after a beloved grandmother. 

Craftstitute, Ithaca, NY craft school

MiMBY (Made in My Back Yard)



Craftstitute, Ithaca, NY

MiMBY Made in My Back Yard

Aurora Shoe Co. Handmade Leather Shoes

Craftstitute, Ithaca NY handmade


craft school, knit

Robin Tilling, MiMBY

Indigo Dye

Indigo dye

Indigo dye

Craft School Robin Tilling

Thank you, Robin, and everyone at Craftstitute, for recognizing the value of handcraft, and for bringing this fabulous school to our community!  

You can keep up with class and workshop offerings by following the link above and by joining the Craftstitute Facebook and Instagram pages.  


Local Author Visit

It was a real pleasure to get together with local author, and fellow maker, Maya Pagan Donenfeld.  We gave Maya a shop tour, and talked about her new book, which offers up some really inspirational advice for creating a new self identity after crisis, trauma, or loss.  It's called Hope Make Heal; 20 Crafts to Mend the Heart and would make a wonderful gift for a friend or for one's self.  Maya's personal story involves an unexpected divorce, and her crafts and thoughts are all about slowly re-building her sense of self and self-worth.

Maya was a great sport in the snow, but we both felt relieved when we found a nice warm spot to sit by the fire, away from the harsh lake breezes.  Here are a few photos from our visit, with more to come soon.

handmade leather shoes, Maya Pagan Donenfeld

Aurora Shoe Co.  Middle English

handmade leather shoes

handmade leather shoes

New chinese Handmade Leather Shoes

Maya Pagan Donenfeld Hope Make Heal


Lake Views

We're surrounded by beauty here in Aurora.  I think we all spend as much time as possible on or near the lake all summer, but mild winter days can be pretty great, too.  The geese were making lots of noise and the waves were calmly rolling in while we took a few photos this morning. 

handmade leather shoes

handmade leather shoes

Hot coffee was a nice treat after an hour spent in the cold.  Our Auroras have stayed pretty local this year.  Where are your Auroras taking YOU?


Gift Cards

Aurora Shoe Gift Card

Are you stressing about last minute Christmas gifts, or just looking for something to give someone special?  We've got you covered!  Our gift cards come to you as a coupon code and are perfect for giving.  You are able to customize the amount and your gift is sure to fit and flatter.  


Classic Black

Our shoes may have an organic look and feel, but they can easily dress up and look sharp.  Here are our Middle English and New Mexican looking ready for just about anything.


Brown or Olive?

It can be hard to tell the difference between our brown and olive leather online.  To be honest, in certain lighting it can be hard to tell in person, too.  Where brown is a warm color, olive is cool.  It's the color of tree bark, and wet driftwood, very natural.  These photos feature our Middle English in Olive and they're the perfect neutral color for someone with an olive skin tone.  My friend, Jasmine Crowe is a nice example of this. 

Jasmine took time out of her busy totally relaxing lake vacation to model for me and I love the way we were able to quickly put together a very handmade (in the USA) outfit.  Homemade necklaces, handmade shoes, and a favorite Moop bag made in PA, accented with leather that passes through our shop. 

Moop Shop, PA  Aurora Shoe Co, NY

Moop Shop

Our Auroras are getting a lot of time in at the lake these days.  Where are your Auroras taking YOU?  Share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram (#aurorashoes).


Handmade Shoes for (big) Kids

The other day my oldest son and I stopped in to see Uncle Dave at the shop.  He took a short break to chat with us and then one thing led to another, and we walked out the door with the smallest pair of Aurora Shoes I've ever seen (Women's 5 C) walking under the happiest face I'd seen that day. 

And what did my little (big) boy do when I asked him to model these pristine shoes?  He did what little (big) boys do;  he climbed his favorite tree.  I almost said something about the scuffing, but I bit my tongue, partly because Dave and I wore our first pairs to do everything under the sun when we got them 20 or so years ago, and partly because that's what full grain leather is all about.  It can take a few scrapes and bruises and somehow come out looking better for the wear. 

Silk Oak and Aurora Shoe Co.  handmade in the finger lakes
handmade in the finger lakes
Handmade Shoes for Kids

Where are your Auroras taking YOU?

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