Big Picture

If the shoe fits, drive it

A giant motorised stiletto is not what you would expect to see cruising down the avenues of Iran's capital, so it gets more than its fair share of attention - and business - for intrepid Iranian shoe-shine man Mr Ali Hassankhani.

Ali Waxima, as he calls himself, has worked in the streets of central Teheran for 18 years, first as a shoe maker and then when he started his own shoe-shine business. But instead of staking out sidewalk space for his trade, he chose a bigger stage to broadcast his skills.

He decided on a vehicle which he could drive around to attract customers and cheer them up at the same time - a "happiness car" he calls it, because "it makes people smile".

So he steers his self-made giant stiletto through Teheran, offering quality shoe-shine services to customers wherever they are.

Described as "Iran's first modern telephone shoe-shine boy", the social media savvy entrepreneur has a following of more than 1,500 people on Instagram.

On average, the 43-year-old entrepreneur earns about 700,000 rials (S$33) a day, he says. That is a good salary in Iran, he adds, where the average wage for workers is US$15 (S$21) a day.

Not one to drag his feet, Ali Waxima plans to start his own clothes and shoes line.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'If the shoe fits, drive it'. Print Edition | Subscribe