Stewart began his career over 35 years ago when he studied for six years to qualify in custom footwear design & manufacture at Sydney Tafe College. At that time he also completed a four year apprenticeship in custom orthopaedic footwear design and orthotic therapy.
He then decided to travel and see what his profession was doing in other countries. As the grandson of a tailor and the son of an entrepreneur business man, Stewart headed for the Middle East and found himself on a kibbutz in Israel. Working outdoors in the cotton fields and driving large tractors for cotton picking, this completely different lifestyle began to suit Stewart but then he discovered the kibbutz had a shoe shop with shoe repair equipment in working order.
The shoe shop owner watched Stewart’s expertise with the machinery and on discovering that he was a Certified Pedorthist, Orthotist and Custom Shoe Maker, he promptly gave him the shop keys. Before long Stewart found himself not only repairing the kibbutz member’s footwear but also treating their various foot problems using orthotic therapy and customising their footwear.
Stewart was limited in the materials he had to use, but not one to give up, his lateral thinking saw him utilise car tyres, rubber bladders from tractors, cork flooring and resins. He was more than capable with these materials and adapted them to service his customer’s needs.
Soon after Stewart left the kibbutz to live in Tel Aviv and work at the “Gapim” Limb centre for amputees of the lower limb. He learnt the latest in limb bionics and was inspired by their technology.
Stewart returned to Sydney in 1981 and applied all he had learnt when he began work at the NSW Crippled Children Society, known today as the Northcott Disability Services. For three years he worked and learnt with master craftsmen in the field of limb prosthetics, orthotics and therapeutic medical grade footwear.
Yet travelling still called him and when his Israeli cotton picking friends came to Sydney he organised jobs for them out in the flat cotton country of Boggabilla NSW on the Newell Highway, 118 km north-east of Moree, 9 km south-east of Goondiwindi. Stewart joined them working on a station farming cotton where Stewart was able to introduce the growers to the Israeli drip irrigation system which they still use today.
Then in 1984 his friends convinced Stewart that Europe was where the action was so for the next 5 years Stewart hitch-hiked around Europe and visited friends on the kibbutz now occupied by Aussie’s, Kiwi’s, South Americans, English and French & Israelis.
Before long his reputation preceded him and he became head of the kibbutz maintenance. Wanting more however from his time in Israel, he volunteered & joined the Israeli army for 12 months which taught him discipline not only personally but also on a professional level. After the army, he found himself living in Jerusalem over the winter of 1987; he worked & lived as an Israeli but was missing the land of meat pies, Holden cars and kangaroos and decided to travel back to Australia with the worldly experiences he gained.
Stewart settled back into Sydney life and set up his first business in Randwick in late 1989 and began to treat people’s feet problems. In 1991 he joined the Australian Pedorthic Medical Grade Footwear Association and has been an active member and part of the association’s and the professions growth ever since.
However in 1992 Stewart was headhunted and offered a position managing a Podiatry laboratory but the position and its methods of mass manufacturing of hard plastic orthotics was confirmation for Stewart that rigid orthoses were not overall helpful in the long term for many foot problems. He returned to the more flexible and varied techniques he had practiced as a Pedorthist and in 1994 he began his new business, Corrective Orthopaedic Footwear and Orthotic Services.
Making custom orthopaedic footwear, medically modifying footwear and making customised orthoses for individual foot problems saw his business go from strength to strength despite the fact that he was trading from a 7 acre old market garden property in Ingleside on Sydney’s northern beaches. His catch-praise ‘We Heel Sick Soles’TM became well known among many of his patients and medical practitioners and is still used today.
In 1999 with rapid business growth, Stewart and his wife Desiree opened their first Birkenstock Boutique store in Mona Vale to bring Stewart's services closer to the public and to share the benefits of the Birkenstock footwear with as many people as possible. So, five years and three stores later saw not only the locals, but many people visiting from overseas searching them out to buy Birkenstock's and people with foot problems were booked weeks ahead to see Stewart. Yet with the internet approaching and on line sales increasing, Stewart’s intuition was to move forward, sell up and re-focus on “heeling sick soles”.
Retail added to Stewart’s life experience but his heart was in helping people walk without pain or being able to wear a pair of shoes when years of deformity had prevented conventional footwear fitting them comfortably.
In 2004 Stewart moved his business back to his newly renovated clinic and workshop in Ingleside. Now known as Custom Foot Australia, the bush and peaceful surroundings provided a place of difference to visit Stewart and for him to give his patients the time, space and unrushed treatment for their foot problems.
Then in 2013 Stewart and Desiree discovered Cooranbong in the Lake Macquarie area only 1.25 hours from Sydney. The minimal traffic lights, brighter stars and more relaxed living suited them well so they also expanded the business and opened a new Pedorthic Foot Clinic in Morisset, 45 mins drive north of Hornsby.
The store is an outlet for Birkenstock softbed sandals, Dr Comfort footwear and many others as well as Pedorthic shoe modifications and customised orthotic therapy.
Stewart now treats people in the Sydney Pymble clinic, Morisset Lake Macquarie and Byron Bay areas. His knowledge of Pedorthics is broad and he continues to study the advances of medical footwear and Pedorthics both in Australia and overseas. He has been an active participant in the continued growth of Pedorthics in Australia and presently sits as a Board member of the Australian Pedorthic Registry. He was an active participant in the motivating force that developed the new Bachelor of Sciences in Clinical Pedorthics that is now taught at Southern Cross University on the Gold Coast.
With his many years of experience, both professionally and personally, Stewart’s expertise lies in his knowledge of foot and lower limb pathology and his use of specialist materials to help a person’s feet regain strength and stability to walk, stand and mobilise without pain.
He knows that if he can help a person be supported from the foundation of their feet, they can once again feel like they are not missing out on any part of what life has to offer.