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Entrepreneur FEET FIRST When Chelsea Kaplan’s was first inspired to open her innovative mobile shoe shining business, she never imagined it would turn into the throwback-style movement it has become. TEX T BY CRISTINA ZUA ZUA C helsea Kaplan is always a blur, and her ambitions are clear by the variety of channels in which she is constantly expanding her business. As the Founder of Buffettes Shoe Shine, a mobile shoe shine company, one can find the Buffettes shining at conventions, trade shows, mitzvahs, weddings, charity events, galas, lounges and even golf tournaments. Anyone hearing Kaplan talking about her job will instantly catch the enthusiasm in her voice as she talks about her chosen profession. “Shoe shining is definitely a lost art,” she says. “It’s common to see shoe shine stands up north or wherever public transportation is popular. Here in Miami, you never see them! You’re lucky if you can find someone who’s willing to come to your office once a week , but what’s the fun in waiting around?” When she started Buffettes, she thought it would be gimmicky to make it all about classy professional female shoe shiners, but since launching she’s grown to have both men and women on staff. As for her entrepreneurial inspiration, Kaplan credits her father. “I really couldn’t have 70 started this business without all of his help,” she says. “He’s very business-savvy and is the one who really gave me the encouragement and support with starting Buffettes Shoe Shine.” She also enjoys sharing the tricks of the trade with her employees, and always feels most rewarded when they tell her how much they love what they do. “We all go to work every day — so we should be able to do something we have fun with,” she says. “It makes me so happy to be able to hire people who love coming to work!” As the business has grown, Kaplan’s reputation has preceded her, and she says that The Buffettes have shined up quite a few celebrities as well as a couple of Olympic athletes. Regardless of her clientele, it’s always a pleasure to provide an outstanding, old-school experience to her customers. “It’s usually pretty funny when you shine- up fellow shoe shiners’ shoes when they used to shine shoes over 30 years ago,” she says with a grin. “It’s fun teaching each other new and old tricks of the trade. I still don’t know how to snap the rag, but I’m working on it!”;