Art & sole: major marketing gets a foothold with made-to-measure shoes
Custom painted sneakers are all the rage. You see them all over your TikTok feed, and even around Florida Gulf Coast University’s campus, where, for example, one of our male basketball players owns a pair.
If you’ve ever wondered where you can order your own custom decorated shoes, check out Vinnys Customs.
Originally from New Jersey, Vincent Lamanna is a recent marketing grad at FGCU with a unique shoe company that is sure to catch your eye. Using his self-taught skills in hand painting and airbrushing, he has been creating unique, bespoke shoe designs for the past year and a half.
“I love doing what I do,” Lamanna said. “My gift is something I can share and make people smile. It’s worth it.
Using Instagram as a marketplace, Vinnys Customs has attracted a clientele that includes college athletes such as FGCU senior guard Austin Richie to celebrities such as famed DJ Steve Aoki. Lamanna’s goal is to see major league athletes wear his shoes in televised games.
One of his first clients, Chestnut Hill College golfer PJ Schulte, says his pair of Vinnys Customs don’t go unnoticed on the course.
“I would say Vincent is one of the most talented people I know,” Schulte said. “Being a college golfer, few other kids wear custom shoes, so I get asked about my shoes every game I play. I always refer them to Vinnys Customs. he does a real business, and i will be a customer as long as i play golf.
If you want your own custom pair of Vinnys Customs, contact Lamanna via Instagram and collaborate on what you want your design to look like. Purchase the style and size shoe you wish to paint, then ship the pair to Lamanna. Depending on the intricacy of the design, a pair of Vinnys Customs can range from $70 to over $500. The most expensive work Lamanna produced was a $550 rendition of what a trip on LSD might look like, using a multicolored illusion and his artistic freedom.
Once the artist gets to work, a drawing can take Lamanna anywhere from three to 12 hours to paint. Once the sealant is placed, Lamanna immediately returns the shoes to the customer to rock the streets or put on display.
Juan Zavala and his wife, Pilar Guzman Zavala, are small business owners in Miami who are big fans of Vinnys Customs. Juan was scrolling through Instagram and spotted a local athlete with a striking pair of shoes linked to Vinnys Customs. He ordered the first pair of shoes as a gift for his wife and was so impressed with the professionalism and quality of work done by Lamanna that he immediately ordered another pair for himself.
Juan Zavala notes that working with Lamanna is a “very simple and transparent process. Sometimes people are artistic and creative, but they don’t know how to handle customers. Vinny has what it takes, and his business will continue to grow.
Growing up in a family that owned a small business, Lamanna learned to run her own with integrity and consistency. Taking advantage of the Runway program, part of FGCU’s entrepreneurship initiative for students and alumni, has helped Lamanna hone those skills, as well as learn and implement other ways to grow. business with the program’s resources and mentorship.
Scott Kelly, Runway Program Director and Lamanna Mentor, says Lamanna has “turned his skills and talent into a viable, revenue-generating business.”
“He received $10,777 from the Runway program in the spring of 2021 and is currently participating in our Growth 2.0 version of the program this semester,” Kelly said. “Vinny has done a great job using the tools, theory and skills learned in our programs to launch and grow his business.”
Although being a one-person operation has proven difficult for Lamanna at times, being a self-proclaimed “workaholic” he pushes through with a smile. When asked about his competitors in the online market, he replies, “Subscribers are not everything.”
“Those with the most (subscribers) online often offer their product for free,” said Lamanna, who still charges clients for her work. “I would rather have more zeros in my bank account than subscribers.”
— Alexa Gruber is a communications major who is part of an internship program coordinated by University Marketing & Communications. Students interested in gaining paid internship credits can contact Keith Gibson at [email protected].
Tags: Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, fgcu, florida gulf coast university, Vinnys Customs