Pumped Up Kicks

Freshman paints shoes for a small business

A colorful, one of a kind pair of wedges painted by Emily (Adrien)

Courtesy of Emily (Adrien) Vu

A colorful, one of a kind pair of wedges painted by Emily (Adrien)

Mackenzie Gonzales, Cartoonist

We’ve all seen the TikTok videos where teens take ordinary objects and paint extraordinary works of art or our favorite childhood cartoon characters. These objects range from calculators to mirrors. The question remains: Do these teens make any profit off their artwork?

Freshman Emily Vu, who prefers the name Adrien, has turned this TikTok sensation into a business.

Their service: spicing up kicks with a brand new paint job.

“I started painting shoes when I was just messing around with paint,” Vu said. “Then I found an old pair of shoes, designed a pattern and figured I could make something out of them.”

Vu had been painting shoes for about two months.

Whenever Vu feels like a pair of shoes goes with an outfit of their they will wear their new painted kicks to school.

“I get a lot of interest and compliments when I wear the shoes to school,” Vu said. “People tend to ask me where I got them and I just tell them that I made them.”

Like most young entrepreneurs nowadays, Vu has taken their small business to Instagram. Vu can be found on the app @creative.shoelocker.

With having their own Instagram for this small shoe painting business comes commissions.

“One thing I like about commissions is that my work is being recognized,” Vu said. “It’s also nice when customers come to you with a design already in mind then you can run small tweaks past them and almost take a bit of control on the project.”

Now that Vu is back in school,  commissions have slowed down for them.

“When I first started painting shoes and promoted them on my Instagram, I would get two direct messages a week asking for me to paint their shoes.”

One of Vu’s customers was their good friend freshman Caylie Loewenstein.

“It was really easy to have a pair of shoes done by Adrien,” Loewenstein said. “All I had to do was tell Adrien what I wanted done and provide the shoes. When I got them I was so happy. They were everything I dreamed they would be.”

Like most artists, Vu has a preferred canvas. When it comes to shoes Vu would rather paint Converse than any other shoe.

“Personally I think Converse are the best shoe to paint because the canvas is really sturdy,” Vu said. “The fabric takes paint really well so I can use a few different types of paint.”

On average it only takes Vu 2 hours to paint a pair of shoes. All customers have to do is provide Vu with the shoes they would like painted and Vu will do the rest. Be sure to check out these rockin kicks @creative.shoelocker on Instagram.