Blake Baresh, a former credit analyst from Irvine, California, following the contemporary trend in using online design software, made a brave decision to leave his job in order to take on a job as an artist, painting custom shoe designs onto sneakers. Barash has always had an interest in art, and was enthusiastic about painting and woodwork.
He made the career change after seeing an advertisement on Craigslist which said that Toms, a shoe company, was looking for artists who would be willing to travel to events around the company and paint custom designs on canvas shoes.
After spending a year painting canvas shoes for Toms, he decided to break away from the company and open his own shop dedicated to custom painted shoes. The company, called B Street Shoes, sells its products via Etsy, and has been performing incredibly well.
Barash went solo in 2011, and B Street Shoes grossed $60,000 in its first year of trading. What sets the company apart from other shoe painters is that every design is completely unique, and that customers have the option of making their own specific requests. A customer can have as much or as little input as they like into the design of the shoes that they buy.
The business is still thriving, several years on, and shows exactly how much potential custom products have. Community based e-commerce sites for artisan al product makers are a powerful channel that allows consumers to communicate with brand owners and get the products they want, from smaller retailers that they trust.
Barash explained that most of his customers come to him through word of mouth. People find out about his products via Facebook and Instagram. When Barash posts a picture of his latest she designs on his social media profile, customers tag their friends and then that’s where the next order comes from. This viral growth would not have been possible even as recently as 20 years ago.