Regina trainer brings together adore of activity and artwork for customized sneaker enterprise

Four years ago, Cassandra Simon unwrapped artwork materials on Xmas Working day. She had questioned for applications to take a look at out her notion of jazzing up sneakers with one of a kind designs.

This Xmas, 7 people unwrapped tailor made work by Simon, 25, who has turned a enjoy of sneakers and a penchant for art into a house-based mostly small business which is racking up a wait record.

Every pair exceptional

A cracked-open up window allows cold November air into the modest room that functions as a joint studio and place of work in Simon’s Regina condominium. 

She leans more than a pair of white Vans she has crisscrossed with pencil marks. She fills in the triangular sample with a narrow brush dipped in shades of blue and green.

A pair of Nike Air Max covered in strips of tape sits at the corner of her modest desk waiting around to be airbrushed.

The desktop is marked with swooshes of paint that hint at past projects the peg board in entrance of her, hung with the instruments of the trade — shoelaces, scissors, tape — and playing cards that includes the Kicks By Cass emblem.

Observe | Learn far more about Simon’s artistic process:

Artist turns adore of sneakers into personalized kicks organization

Regina-primarily based Cassandra Simon jazzes up sneakers with her artistic thrives.

Nike Air Pressure 1s are Simon’s most typical fee, but she states she also gets requests for Air Jordans, Vans and Doc Martens — basically, any new pair of kicks that can act as a blank canvas. Customers send out her the shoes, then they occur up with the design and style collaboratively.

Every single pair can consider any where from 4 to 20 hours, depending on the intricacy of the style and design and the techniques employed. Some of her most included have been hand-drawn anime people and tributes to athletes.

“I don’t automatically have a favorite type or sort of shoe to do, due to the fact a single of the issues I like a great deal about executing this is that it truly is unique each individual time,” Simon reported.

Beginning of a business

Simon, who grew up in Edmonton, set data in keep track of and area as a hurdler while a university student at the College of Alberta. 

“It can be quite unique and acquiring your have design and style in the activity is section of the lifestyle,” Simon stated.

Even with not having any formal art education, Simon has usually been artistically inclined and remembers experimenting with many artwork forms with her grandmother. 

Toss in a really like of Star Wars and a pair of Nike Air Max 90, and you get her to start with foray into pumped up kicks.

Black sneakers are accented with bright blue and red Nike swooshes made to mimic light sabres. Tiny spaceships battle it out in the trim along the soles.
Simon’s very first pair of tailor made made sneakers were being this Star Wars pair she built for herself. (Cassandra Simon)

The footwear caught the attention of her sisters, who by natural means desired their own. Then their close friends asked for some, and the commissions grew.

The Nikes also caught the eye of yet another track athlete: Atlee Simon, who attended the University of Regina and ran into Cassandra at fulfills. The two began relationship — which at some point helped Atlee web a pair of custom Air Max and Air Drive — and he encouraged Cassandra to flip her enthusiasm into a enterprise.

A young man sits holding a sneaker and smiling. It has an ajnime character painted inside the Nike swoosh.
Atlee Simon met Cassandra when they have been equally collaborating in observe meets for competing faculties. He’s keeping a pair of footwear she painted for him with an anime design. (Adam Bent/CBC)

“I really don’t even know how a lot of pairs she’s completed now, but it would seem like every single time she does a new pair, it can be superior than the final,” Atlee claimed. “Her abilities are bettering and individuals are noticing that.”

Cassandra has gained orders for all the things from sneakers to use with grad attire to a pair for a charity fundraiser run by a University of Washington sorority.

White sneakers are painted with an artistic version of the Seatle skyline in shades of blue, purple and pink on one side, and the University of Washington stadium on the other. They also have a large purple W on each side.
Simon donated these shoes for an auction the Delta Zeta sorority at the University of Washington put on for the American Culture for Deaf Small children. (Cassandra Simon)

She stated it pleases her to see additional women of all ages having interested in sneaker culture, with companies growing their choices for women of all ages in turn. Her individual female client foundation is developing, way too.

Dreams of expansion

Cassandra moved to Regina in 2021 and married Atlee a 12 months afterwards. (She wore Air Jordan 11s with her marriage ceremony dress.) 

She took up a training placement and acquired an complete elementary school’s truly worth of followers – and skeptics. As considerably as her learners marvel at her get the job done — donned at instances by her colleagues — she finds herself getting to regularly persuade them she did the work herself.

It truly is tricky to blame them: The shoes are finding ever more intricate as Cassandra worries herself with new methods, this sort of as airbrushing, or employing distinct textiles.

Sections of white sneakers have been painted with sky blue, and the Nike swooshes have been filled in with airbrushed clouds.
Simon says she finds it ‘really fulfilling’ when she tries a new approach, these kinds of as airbrushing clouds, and it operates out better than she experienced imagined. (Cassandra Simon)

With her whole-time training work, Cassandra can regulate about three to five orders a month. She hopes to develop that in the foreseeable future.

“Viewing people’s reactions just confirms to me that I’m executing what I really should be accomplishing,” Cassandra stated, “and it just offers me inspiration to keep doing it and be enthusiastic for the upcoming of my tiny organization.”