The Best Way to Take Advantage of an Opportunity is to Create It -Steve Kerr, Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors
My name is Chris Wade and I started Wade Custom Shoe Company during the global pandemic. Yes, I taught myself a new trade while we were all stuck working from home. But first, how did I get here?
In March, my day job mandated that those that could, work from home. So, I packed up my computer, monitors, and printer and headed for the house. It would be 3 months before we were cleared to return to the office. And as I’m posting this, some of my colleagues are still working from home. Much like you, this was a huge adjustment for my family. My wife works remotely and schools were closed so we had to navigate our daily jobs as well as keep a toddler occupied, satisfied, and content. As we worked from home, I found that the media I watched was mundane and repetitive. Sports had all but shut down and the only solace we found was Michael Jordan’s “The Last Dance.” That’s when everything changed for me.
I like to tell people “Michael Jordan went to my high school.” It makes me sound like a big deal and usually evokes a double take or laugh. "THE GOAT" laid the groundwork with his play on the court for total domination of the sneaker world. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I owned by first pair of Jordan’s. The Air Jordan 4 Laser, Black with subdued graffiti and gum rubber soles.
But that wasn’t the first pair of “Top of the line” shoes I owned. When I was 11 or 12 years old, I hounded my dad for months to get me a pair of the Nike Air Command Force’s like Billy Hoyle wore in White Men Can’t Jump.
It was the first pump sneaker that Nike made in response to the Reebok Pump. I digress...
It was probably around May 2020 that I started to watch YouTube videos of people like Mache and Dillion Dejesus customizing shoes. I had no clue there was market for this. I grew up drawing and into everything art, but after going to the Naval Academy and eight years in the Marine Corps, I had lost my creative edge. I was mesmerized at some of the custom work and thought “I can do that.” Sneaker customizers have generated a buzz and worked with high profile celebrities and Pro Athletes. In the last 5 years, the NFL has relaxed some of their uniform regulations and “My Cause, My Cleats” has provided sneaker customizers another platform to showcase their work…CLEATS. It gives me chest pains just thinking about the volume of cleats that guys like @SolesbySir and @dejesuscustomfootwear did in 2020. But I would consider that a good problem to have.
So, I decided to try my hand at the custom sneaker game. After a quick trip to the Angelus Direct website for some supplies, I was off to laying paint on some shoes. But which shoes?
My Friend Eric was having a birthday in July so I decided to surprise him with some custom shoes. First pair. Black Air Force 1s. I instantly thought about our Hip-Hop connection throughout high school and tried convincing his wife to let me do a Wu-Tang themed shoe. She politely declined and recommended an outdoor theme. Eric and his family are avid outdoorsmen. Hiking and Camping are some of their favorite things. So, I got together some images and did my first mock-up. Markers on an Air force 1 coloring page.
Pretty high tech. I know.
After some discussion, his wife gave me the green light and I started working on them. Of course, I was anxious about if he would like them…would they hold up to wear and tear, am I doing this right?
After I gave them to him for his birthday, I have continuously chased the feeling I had of watching him open the shoe box for a first look at my work.
Although I don’t get to see everyone open their shoe box, I know that I have put the time and effort into honing my craft to make sure I capture exactly what the customer wants. If you are thinking about getting into custom sneakers in 2021, head over to Instagram and follow @wadecustomshoeco to learn more about what I've been up to and what is to come. I have done other custom products over the last 10 months to include hats, glassware, purses, and motorcycle helmets. But Shoes are my passion and Cleats are my dream.