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.
“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.
“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 (www.atomicearrings.com). “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.
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, paintedbyjdg.com, 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!!