Stepping into Opportunity

If you’ve been reading PLANK for any amount of time, you probably know how much I’m a fan of saying YES to the opportunities life sends your way. Last week I was introduced to some really groovy shoes, and instead of just adding them to my favorite picks, I thought I’d dig a little deeper and find out what inspired these fun kicks. And what I found was one of the best examples of saying YES and figuring it out later, so I had to share!!

Some of you may recall my stylist friend, Cynthia … a couple of weeks ago she told me about a friend of hers, Joan, who started her own hand-painted shoe company. I took a look at her website, and LOVED her cool shoes; but more than that, once I learned more about Joan, I loved her whole approach.

Joan’s first couple pairs of painted shoes.

“This little adventure came about by accident,” says Joan, a long-time script supervisor, who has never considered herself an artist. But, when she found herself with some old tennis shoes and some extra paint, she decided to get creative.

blog62_5“I got it into my head that it might be fun to paint on sneakers, and I had access to leftover acrylic paints from my husband’s prop business,” said Joan. Inspired by a poster hanging in their bedroom, Joan painted her first shoe … and it wasn’t bad, so she tried some variations. Her friends and family loved the shoes, and soon she was getting requests.

“I painted shoes for my daughter and some friends, then my son jokingly asked if I’d paint a pair for him with the Dogs Playing Poker image,” Joan recalled with a laugh. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Joan gave it a shot … and the dogs were a hit.

“I have always assumed I could do something until I find out I can’t. And over the years I’ve discovered many things I can do, as well as a few I can’t. With the shoes, I found that while I’m not an artist, I’m quite a good copier,” said Joan.

Joan also found inspiration from her husband, Bob, who, after retiring from a prop business that he owned for 20 years, created a line of 3-D printed earrings ( “I saw him go from making these huge props, to making these earrings and finding success in that. He inspired me.”

With encouragement from her husband, and the many friends and family members who had been telling her she should pursue this, Joan decided to make a go of the shoe-painting business. And like me, Joan found that so many people were willing to step up and help!

“I believe that if you live your life in a generous way, that generosity will come back to you … and that has certainly been the case for me,” says Joan, whose husband created her website using photography taken by a friend.

Joan hand-painting my new shoes!
Joan hand-painting my new shoes!

But don’t expect to find Joan’s shoes in stores anytime soon. “Painting shoes is a quiet, peaceful reprieve from my sometimes stressful day job, but each pair takes six to eight hours, so I’m not ready to produce those in mass,” said Joan. Instead, she custom creates each pair to order.

Speaking of orders … I fell in love with the “Surf’s Up” design and ordered that with a special little addition – I asked Joan to add MB + MS to the side of the shoe since these will be for boating with my husband.

Check out Joan’s custom creations on her website,, where you can choose from previous designs or send her your very own custom request. I can’t wait to get my pair of “Surf’s Up,” which should be arriving any day now!!



  1. Some of the best ideas come by accident. I know that is usually what has happened to me. Thank you for sharing another inspiring and informative blog. Love them! You are the BEST Mary Beth♡

  2. Linda Skinner

    Joan is a lucky lady to find such a fun outlet for her creativity. I believe this is what feeds the soul. Commercial viability and success need not be the driving force behind every endeavor. The joy of creating, and seeing the joy of others from what you create, is what is fulfilling.

  3. Michelle Gray

    Thanks for sharing this website, I love your new deck shoes, will think about ordering a pair for myself.

  4. Joan is so talented. I always love stories of how ppl get an idea & go for it. Joan is no exception. Her shoes are beautiful! She’s definitely creative!! Love her designs.

    Thanks MaryBeth for sharing Joan’s story with us.

  5. I love these. They are so fun and eclectic. Being creative is such a good outlet. I haven’t used my creative outlet well in a while. I think it’s time…

  6. Such a neat idea! I always enjoy reading about people’s stories and how they are doing something they enjoy because they didn’t give up or talk themselves out of trying!

    Thanks for sharing Mary Beth! Loved it!

    By the way, those shoes look super cute! And I love the idea of you and Michael’s initials on them💕

  7. Awww. Love the MB+MS how sweet is that? ❤

    What an inspiration, Joan is. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Another inspiring story! Love them! Thank you for sharing them. I also love the shoes!

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