Valley shoemaker from El Salvador hoping to teach the next generation

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- From the measurements to the stitching, making cowboy boots is not an easy skill.

But for 66-year-old Luis Jovel, he mastered and is known for it in the Central Valley.

"My father, my grandfather, my great grandfather is a shoemaker," he said. "There are four generations behind me."

It's a tradition he hoped to continue in his homeland, El Salvador but says the Civil War in the 80s caused him to run.

He eventually made his way to the United States, expanding his shoe-making skills to cowboy boots, and fell in love with his supportive community.

"99% of my customers are incredible, amazing," he said. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here because they are consistent."

Those same customers are keeping him afloat amid the recession and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

This same building on Cedar and Shields is where he began his journey in Fresno as an employee and has been the owner since the 90s.

Jovel wants to remind his fellow Latinos that hard work and smart choices will always pay off.

"I hope that everyone coming from Central America get the opportunity to show who they are and for them to get the opportunity because I was one of them," he said.

Every specific shoe has its trick and takes time. But he says he's custom-made over 2,000 boots and countless shoes in his lifetime.

His biggest hope is to find someone interested in learning the trade to pass along his knowledge to another generation.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.