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B Street Shoes
Blake started B Street Shoes in . They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on B Street Shoes?
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I was exposed to street culture and sneaker culture. I was a skateboarder and immersed in skater culture. I used to take the subway (B.A.R.T.) and discover different cities and skate sports around me. Riding on the train showed me lots of graffiti art on the walls and it ultimately inspired me to pick up a spray can.
Street art was my first love. I loved the concept of creating a piece of art for everyone in the community. I went to college and got a Bachelors in International Business.
Painting custom shoes in exchange for “exposure” or underpricing my artwork are things I would consider mistakes in the past. You must have pride in your work. If customers are not willing to pay full price, you probably don’t want them as a customer anyway.
When I graduated I moved to Southern California I slept on my friend’s couch while a found a job. I eventually found a job and got an apartment. The position was a Junior Underwriter at a large commercial bank. I sat in a cubicle all day staring at Microsoft Excel sheets. It was super boring and I hated it. The Senior Underwriters were such boring people and I knew I never wanted to be like them. After my 4th anniversary of working there, I walked into my boss’s office and quit.
It was scary but felt like a relief to be moving onto a new chapter in my life. My wife who was my girlfriend at the time was fully supportive at the time and told me she wanted to see me happy.
Since I needed to make some extra money to pay rent I got a job as a server at an Italian food restaurant. I would paint for fun during the day and serve food at night. I was painting on trucker hats for fun and decided to sell them online. This was before Instagram was widely used and Etsy didn’t exist at the time.
My friend who lived in Los Angeles contacted me saying TOMS shoes was looking for an artist that could paint on shoes live at events. I sent TOMS my customized hat portfolio and they hired me. TOMS sent me around the state of California traveling from San Francisco to San Diego painting shoes for customers at events. It was a lot of fun and a great experience. I was taking pictures of all the custom shoes I had painted and decided to create a website listing the best shoes for sale. People loved the shoes and they began to sell!
I started getting emails from potential clients asking if I could paint on Nike, Adidas, Jordans, etc. Even though I wasn’t fully educated on how to best paint those shoes, I said yes! I then began practicing on my own shoes watching whatever YouTube Videos I could find talking about how to paint shoes. After practicing I felt confident with what I was doing.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater