AIF: Cali Weber, @calis.customs

A new small business is growing in the OPRF community. OPRF junior Cali Weber has taken a passion for painting and transformed it into a small business. Inspired by popular social media platforms, she created calis.customs.
Weber got the idea to start customizing shoes from the popular social media apps Instagram and TikTok. The hashtag “shoepainting” has over 13 million views on TikTok, and popular creators continue to post shoe painting content daily. During the beginning of her sophomore year, she reached out to other shoe artists at OPRF for guidance. “I had always been interested in art, painting in particular, and I needed advice about what paint they used and how to prep the shoes,” says Weber.
During winter break of 2019, Weber posted a video on Snapchat of a famous artist making customs online, and captioned it “Someone let me do this to their old shoes.” Weber’s friends then reached out to her and asked if she could customize their shoes. She says that the first pair of shoes that she customized turned out pretty well.
Weber initially did not charge any money for the customization of shoes because “I was scared I would mess up or that they would not like the shoes. I really just liked painting them and seeing people’s reactions when they liked them.” She started to charge customers after realizing that the paint necessary for customization was not cheap, and that the shoes took a long time to make. The actual process of customizing shoes can be strenuous and take up to 20 hours, but it may also take as little as three. Weber says “painting the little details and waiting for them to dry takes patience. The average pair of shoes takes around 10 hours for the process to be complete.”
Weber determined that the amount of work spent on customizing a shoe should be the price of the resell. Certain kinds of shoes, like cleats, are harder to customize because the paint does not adhere well. If a customer requests intricate details to be added on the shoes, that increases the price. Overall, the customization price ranges from $20-$80. Weber currently works off of her desk, which is complete with a 55 gallon fish tank in the back. She says “ I like to listen to music and FaceTime with friends while I work because it keeps me engaged.”
Junior Zakary Nitti had his shoes customized by Weber in September, and he says that it was a positive experience. “Getting a pair from her was super simple, all I had to do was message her on Instagram. The design I wanted was done well, and it is also very durable. Not a single piece of paint has chipped and I look forward to wearing them every time.” Weber painted the logos of the Chicago White Sox and Blackhawks on the front of the shoes, along with the names of the teams on the sides.
Weber says that COVID-19 “has not posed many challenges to my business, except for when we went into the initial big lock down in March and I was not able to pick up any shoes from new customers.”
Weber says that for now, her business is just a side activity that she enjoys doing, and can profit off of. “I don’t plan on expanding it too crazily, but if I begin to get more requests it’s definitely possible.” You can contact her and find out more by visiting her instagram calis.customs.