Interview with Slip-Offs Shoe Customizer Shauna

Hooray! The first interview for PaintorThread is now complete. Honestly we are just so greatful someone that has had so much success customizing has given her time to answer our questions. Let me type no more: Here is our questions and answers with customizer Shauna from her brand Slip-Offs:

State your name, age, where you are from and or grew up?

My name is Shauna Mae Luedtke, I am 24 years old and was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

What if any art based education have you had?

I went through the visual communications program at the Alberta College of Art & Design and graduated with my bachelor of design.

When did you start and what got you into customizing?

It was originally my boyfriend’s idea.  He asked me to paint something on his plain vans, and from there people just saw his and wanted their own.  Eventually I had a large enough portfolio of shoes to make my own website.

Is customizing a full time gig? If not what pays the bills?

Nope, I work full time as a Graphic Designer at a rad advertising & design firm “Trigger”.

What is on the horizon for Slip-Offs in 2009 and beyond?

My work will be featured in the up-coming “History of Vans” book, so make sure to check that out!

Have you learned, gained, or experienced anything significant as a result of customizing?

I’ve learned to decide what kind of customers to work with.  I’ve found that if someone wants something unreasonable, or is unwilling to listen to my advice or throw ideas around, then the end product isn’t going to turn out, and ultimately will be a waste of both our time & money.

Where do you get inspiration for designs?

Most of the time the customer brings me an idea or a theme they want on shoes.  From there we collect visuals and map out what will look best.

What are ways you try to spread word of Slip Offs, or way in which you market yourself?

Well working in marketing and having graphic design skills is quite the advantage.  I am able to easily create promotions and advertise them on my website.  Facebook has been a really wonderful, free marketing tool for me.  But besides that, I have created really unique business cards and have placed them in really cool boutiques around the world.  I donate shoes to charity silent auctions or try to get them on celebs, which gets my name out, and I do the little extra things like giving away free “Slip-offs” tote bags and mini shoe keychains with every order.

Craziest customizing request?

This guy had me make a pair of vans for him with “Will you marry me?” on them, and of course, she said yes.

Share any experience you may have had working with a store or company of any kind

In the summer I customized 20 pairs of shoes for this really rad new custom shoe store in San Diego, Milo shoes.  It was really fun because I got to do whatever I wanted on them, on whatever color of Vans.  It was really fun to be part of a store that features customizers from all over the world.

Do you listen to music while working? If so what’s on your customizing playlist?

It’s kind of weird but I don’t actually, I usually “listen” to DVD’s of TV shows or movies I own.  I find it makes the time go by faster and it’s more entertaining.  However music is a big part of my life.  I am in a band with my boyfriend called “Karate Kiss” and a new band called “The Happy New Years”.

Favorite food and beverage?

I love food with lots of flavor, so curry chicken is probably my favorite and I’m a sucker for sweets, so probably a milkshake would be my favorite drink.  I still totally dig kid food like hot dogs, pizza and candy.

If you could have one super power for a day what would it be? And why?

I think it would be cool to time travel back to my childhood and go to all my favorite places or experiences.

If you could pick one movie or TV. show to have been an actor in which one would it be?

I would have loved to be part of the cast of “Gilmore Girls”, it was really funny and the town was so quirky.

Most memorable or famous customer you have had?

My most famous customer is Ellen Degeneres, but I don’t know if she counts as a customer because she never paid me, but she did thank me on her show.  I’ve made Ellen three pairs of shoes: two pairs of VANS and one pair of TOMS.  I got V.I.P. tickets to her show, but still never got to meet her.   What’s cool is I’ve been able to get to know all my customers quite well, and its awesome to know the story behind each pair of the shoes I’ve done.

What are your Favorite clothing brands or styles?

I’m not really into wearing brands, I just buy what I like.  I love pretty much everything you can buy at Urban Outfitters and spend far too much money there.  I pretty much just wear jeans and cardigans everyday, but with lots of bright colors and always a pattern.  I believe my style is far from plain and boring.

Name a good book you have read?

I just finished reading “The Shack”, it was pretty amazing and life changing for me.  It was really encouraging and answered a lot of questions for me.

Anyone you would like to work with?

My dream would be to do an artist collaboration with Vans.  TOMS shoes would also be fun to work with.  I was just in Argentina with them in October on a shoe drop, and was able to see first hand what they are doing as a company, it was an amazing experience.

10 years from now, where do you see yourself?

I really want to get married and have a family.  I’ve had a collection of really awesome baby/kids shoes that is starting to get out of control.  In terms of my business, I would love to do this as long as I can.  It really allows me to do the drawing and painting that I don’t get to do sitting at a computer all day. 

Any advice for those beginning customizers or those wanting to start customizing?

I get probably an email or two each month from a newbie asking for advice.  I guess the main thing would be to work really hard and do as many shoes as possible, and make sure you only do shoes you want to, don’t ever do anything that you think is a crappy idea.  Once you have a solid portfolio and gallery of your work, people will see your style and trust you with their shoes. 

Final thoughts, shoutouts, or news you’d like to share?

This interview was rad, you asked really unique and thoughtful questions.  I don’t know I’m just really excited with all the support I get.  I’ve worked really hard to get where I am at now and continue to work hard on every pair that I do.  I hope people can see that they are getting a good quality designed pair for a reasonable price.  I want to start doing different styles of vans and even other types of shoes so that I can reach a larger audience.

Thank you Shauna for your time and answers. There is definitely a few good tips beginning customizers could use to spread word of their customizing work. For more info, pics, or to order your own pair of SlipOffs visit: