Deborah Janssens

I got involved with the Chicago School of Shoemaking because I wanted to start working with cowhide and learn how to make my shoes. I had taught sewing and pattern-making in New York so I had a lot of experience, but I really wanted to expand my skill set.

I enjoy making handbags that have the details I want (embroidery!) and enough pockets so I can keep organized. I also like making boots and sandals. I’m a problem solver at heart so I like solving design problems.

My favorite thing is the look on my students’ faces when they realize the pieces of leather they cut out are really coming together to make their bag.

I love giving my students the tools they need to start making the bags of their dreams.

During the pandemic break I’ve been working with a few mask-making groups. I was very happy to see that my first set of masks went to a Southside hospital.

Here are a few samples of my work, including my leather embroidery. I can’t wait to make sandals for summer (and perhaps handbags to go with them)!

Tutoring specialties: Bag and accessories sewing, patterning, tailoring; machine skiving. $90/hour.


IG: @secondtononechicago

Headshot photo credit: Holly McDowell


Jamie Ramsay

I started my involvement with CSOS when I took a my mom to a Leather Work 101 class for Mothers’ Day and instantly got hooked. The strength, applicability, and versatility of leather intrigued me. It also seemed like a good skill to have if there were an apocalypse. 

Some of the things I enjoy making most include hip packs and bags. I look forward to trying gloves next!

My favorite thing about teaching leatherworking classes is seeing the self-confidence that blossoms from creating a tangible and functional object for oneself. In my classes, I’m a high-fiver (which will now be all air high-fives from a responsible distance).

I’ve been moved by the overwhelming kindness of people during these rough times sheltering in place. A friend of mine tragically lost his father, who contracted Covid-19. His father was a firefighter and veteran, and well-loved in his community. On the day of the funeral, which was restricted by social distancing, the fire station sent a truck to lead the funeral procession. The community police provided an escort and blocked off intersections in 3 towns for the funeral procession to drive through. Neighbors stood on corners waving flags and holding up signs to express their respect for their friend who had passed. It was all a surprise to my friend and his family. Some people really have shown their best for their neighbors at this time.

Tutoring specialties: Machine sewing, hand stitching, small leather goods construction, embossing, machine skiving. $90/hour.

Contact Jamie at

IG: @lifeonmarsgoods

Naomi Easley

I discovered CSOS in my first 101 class, where I made a leather clutch with my partner. I fell in love with leather as a medium and with the community’s willingness to share the knowledge that the CSOS cultivates.  

I have taught small leather goods and leather molding classes at CSOS since 2015; my teaching style relies on a foundation of patience and identifying student needs on an individual basis. I never tire of seeing the fantastic things that my students make, or watching them progress on their leather-crafting journeys.

Fundamental to my teaching style is the concept of ongoing education, including my own; I still pull out that clutch from my first 101 class as a reminder of how far my leathercraft has come, and I am excited to try my hand at making costume masks this year. 

Tutoring specialties include hand stitching, molding, and dyeing, skills I have put to good practice in crafting satchels and bags. $90/hour.



Peter Thompson

I was introduced to leather arts by my late father George, who in turn had learned it from his patients while working as a nurse in Canada. 

I’m carrying on the tradition in honor of my father looking to stretch myself from the traditional Sheridan style he learned, toward contemporary carving and tooling methods.

I also like to push the envelope of dye and coloration to include alternative methods for more vibrant styles.

Tutoring specialties: Vegetable-tanned leather tooling, carving, and dyeing. $90/hour.


Sara McIntosh

Master Cobbler, Founder of the Chicago School of Shoemaking and Leather Arts

Tutoring specialties: Footwear patterning and construction, outstitch technique, product development, prototyping. $125/hour. Read my story HERE



Vanessa Arroyo

I have been a friend of the Chicago School of Shoemaking for a few years and happy to be part of the shoemaking community in Chicago. My favorite part about teaching is meeting interesting people. I like to learn from our students just as much as I like to teach. My purpose is to provide quality time away from the routine, where you can exercise your creative muscle. People who work with me think that my class is very informative and fun! 

Founder of :

Tutoring specialties: Lasted footwear construction, patterning, prototyping, machine sewing. Spanish speaking. Tutoring: $125/hour.


Matt Greiner

Matt Greiner has been obsessively making custom shoes since January of 2021 when he traced and cut out his first Air Jordan 1 High pattern. Since that time, Matt has made countless pairs of shoes out of all sorts of materials, experimented with many techniques and honed his craft in his personal shoemaking space at home in Chicago. Matt loves the personal and creative nature of shoemaking and is excited share this experience with others. He makes pairs on a commission basis through his brand Lab53 (, @lab53shoes on Instagram).

Ray Serna

Originally from North-East, Los Angeles, California, I developed a love for art and design at a very early age.  By the age of 9 years old I was taking private art lessons from a family friend who was himself and accomplished artist.      

        I later attended The Los Angeles High School for the Arts.  While at LACHSA I immersed myself in sculpture (clay, multi media) and figure drawing.  I excelled in all my chosen art disciplines and graduated LACHSA with honors.  I then applied to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was accepted with a near full scholarship to attend.

            While at The School I studied the fine arts, I later decided to challenge myself further by changing my focus to Fashion design with an emphasis on footwear design and construction.

            After the first semester of footwear design I was offered a position as a teacher’s assistant and classroom tech.  I was a T.A. for 2 years.  As I reached my senior year I decided to pursue a career in footwear design.  I was offered a position as Associate designer for a company in Boston. 20 years later I have designed shoes for Coach, Nine West, Vince Camuto, Tommy Hilfiger, Creative Director of Tommy Bahama footwear, Adelante shoe co., Director of Product Development at Reliable knit of Milwaukee, while also teaching advanced footwear design and construction courses at The Chicago School of Shoemaking and leather arts.            In my spare time I collect rare gemstones and design Jewelry.  I also collect art and fashion books. In addition I love to practice Calligraphy and Knit.

Tutoring specialties: Lasted Shoemaking, patternmaking, adjusting lasts $125/hour.