Artist Finds Success Painting Custom Designs on Sneakers

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b street shoes custom painted sneakers

Not many people would leave a steady finance job to paint custom designs on sneakers. But that’s exactly what Blake Barash did.

The credit analyst based in Irvine, California, saw a Craigslist ad from the shoe company Toms, which was looking for an artist to travel to events and paint custom designs on the company’s canvas shoes.

Barash, who grew up with creative hobbies like painting and woodworking, jumped at the opportunity. He got the job. And after a year of painting shoes for Toms, he enjoyed it so much that he decided to start his own business offering similar products.

In 2011, Barash opened his shop B Street Shoes on Etsy. And in his first year in business, the company grossed $60,000.

The company sells custom-painted shoes in various styles and from various shoe brands. Each design is completely unique. And he also offers customers the opportunity to make custom requests and even help design their own shoes.

This business is just one example of a growing trend in the retail industry – one of a kind products and customizable designs. Community based eCommerce sites like Etsy and social media sites have made it possible for consumers to request exactly the products they are looking for from sellers they trust.

Part of building that trust comes with using those online platforms to actually connect with customers and allow them to share their experiences with others as well. Barash told the New York Times:

“Most of my clients come through word of mouth and search. People find me through friends on Facebook and on Instagram. I’ll post a shot of their shoes on Instagram or Facebook, and they tag their friends under the photo and say, ‘Hey, this is what I was telling you about earlier. I think you would love these.’ I get that kind of thing a lot.”

Of course, that word-of-mouth won’t happen for a business unless it provides a product that customers actually like. For that reason, the quality of work and artistic talent that Barash displays is incredibly important.

But the unique nature of his work and the ability for customers to find or even help create something completely different has assuredly had an impact on the success of B Street Shoes.

Image: B Street Shoes, Etsy


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.

3 Reactions
  1. Did you have to get the manufacturer’s permission? Legally what did you do to cover yourdelg

    • He’s not claiming to make the shoes and clearly leaves the “Vans” logo on the custom shoe shown in the picture. Why do you think he needs permission from the shoe manufacturer’s? I have thought about this too, but as long as your not claiming the shoe is your on making, or changing there trademark/logo I can’t find any reason in my head this would not be perfectly fine to do. One comparable example i can think of is: Do you need to ask FORD when you paint your truck and then sell the truck?

  2. Thanks for sharing this it’s really helpful for me.