A Maghera man is customising trainers and cycling shoes for some of the world’s biggest brands after launching his own custom shoe designing start-up business thanks to the help and support of the Go For It Programme, in association with Mid – Ulster District Council.
The project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Local cycling enthusiast, Shea Gribbon, launched Shoe Dr in October 2020 and has built a reputation customising trainers and cycling shoes for top brands such as Nike.
The Global sports brand commissioned The Shoe Dr to create custom Air Force trainers to celebrate road racing cyclist Mark Cavendish’s record equalling Tour de France stage win tally.
The custom designed shoes also created a buzz in cycling circles at the 2021 Tour De France with Slovenian rider Luka Mezgec sporting a team focused design on the world’s most famous race.
2012 Tour de France champion, Bradley Wiggins, was also spotted wearing The Shoe Dr’s customed designed apparel.
Shea who graduated from Coventry University with a degree in Product Design had just started his first traditional 9-5 job. Whilst he loved his job, Shea felt a sense of unfulfillment and that he wasn’t being challenged artistically.
Shea said: “I was coming home from work in the evenings bored, not knowing what to do with myself. I did some painting when I was at Uni, but I was really dreaming about painting shoes. Then one day my friend said, just buy the paint and get stuck into it, and the rest is history.”
The Shoe Dr is a custom shoe designer business that specialises in personalising footwear with hand-painted art highlighted by bold designs, flashy colours and detailed illustrations.
Shea continued: “I personally ‘doctor’ each pair of shoes to visually tell the stories of those who wear them. Edgy, unique and distinctive, my doctored shoes are fashionable representatives of creative expressions in the modern era.”
Since opening his doors almost two years ago and working with top brands, such as NIKE, Shea says his biggest achievement since opening The Shoe Dr has been getting a feature in cycling magazine, Peloton.
“Peloton cycling magazine contacted me to take part in a feature for them. They interviewed me and I got eight pages in the magazine, that is definitely my proudest moment since launching The Shoe Dr.”
Shea got in contact with the Go For It programme after a friend recommended them.
He said: “I was struggling and needed help with the business side of things when my friend suggested I contact the programme.
“The Go For It programme helped me a lot in starting up the business. I knew how to paint shoes, but I had no business experience – I had no plan, no idea about finances, they were a massive help with the actual business side of it.
“I had a big thing about saying yes to everything, it would then come to a point where I would stress, Go For It definitely helped me with that.
For anyone thinking about setting up their own business, Shea says Go For It, he commented: “Even if it is working from home after work and setting up on the side, that’s what I did. Although I never planned to have a business, it was just a hobby, you never know where it’s going to go.”
Patricia Elliott, Business Adviser at Workspace Enterprise Agency said: “We are thrilled to see Shea’s business become such a success within a year. We encouraged him to set up on social media and look at the financial management of his business, with the development of his business plan he had a road map to go forward with his idea.
He has developed some amazing high-end contacts such as NIKE and is developing such beautiful, unique designs and is having great success on his social media platforms.”
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean said: “The Council is delighted to support innovative new businesses like The Shoe Doctor. Shea is a perfect example of what is possible with just one great business idea and the proper support.
“Mid Ulster is home to the largest business base outside of Belfast, with 98% of our businesses being micro or small. We are proud of our strong entrepreneurial culture – of which Shea is a fantastic example. I wish him and his thriving business every success in the future.”
If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business contact the Go For It team on 0800 027 0639 or visit: www.goforitni.com.
For anyone thinking about setting up their own business, Shea says Go For It