The Harbinger Online

High School Entrepreneurs

By

Photos By Grace Goldman

Billy Louiselle

It’s almost guaranteed that every day there is at least one pair of starch white Converse roaming around the school. However, it isn’t guaranteed that every day there is at least one pair of ice- cream-cone-painted Converse trekking through the halls.  

Ice cream and shoes? Not a likely combination. However, junior Billy Louiselle’s entire business is centered around selling specialized shoes that he paints. Not always with ice cream, but if Louiselle is given any design idea ranging from flowers to milk and cookies, he will combine it with shoes by painting them.  

“I decided to buy painted shoes [from Billy] because they were unique,” junior Scott Knubley said.  “No one else is going to have the same shoes with dragons painted on them as I do.”

The summer before his freshman year, after seeing a picture on artist Delano Brown’s Instagram of painted roses on Nike KD 6’s, Louiselle fused both his interests in shoe collecting and painting to start up his busines

Scattered across Louiselle’s white tabletop in his kitchen are sketches of brightly-colored camouflage high tops that he is in the process of fabricating. In the blank space next to the drawings are swatches of different shades of tan with blotches of darkness on top, resembling the color of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

“Coming up with the design and making sure that the colors blend together is the hardest part to the process,” Louiselle said. “I’m a perfectionist, so if something doesn’t look right I have to fix it [right now].”

After formulating a solid idea, Louiselle begins penciling in his design on any brand of white shoes, and then proceeds to his favorite part of the 10-15 hour process: painting the shoes.

Louiselle’s artistic skills have always been an aspect of his life.  He took art lessons at the Nelson-Atkins Museum when he was younger, his mom works at Hallmark and his younger brother is a skilled painter.  Additionally, Louiselle currently has over 35 pairs of custom shoes that he has been collecting since seventh grade.

“Whenever I go out of town, I look up different sneaker stores in the area,” Louiselle said.  “I had a trainer who had over 40 pairs of Jordans, so I got inspired to collect custom shoes.”

With a full schedule consisting of school and tennis, Louiselle does a majority of the work for his business late at night during the week or over the weekend. Painting shoes not only provides Louiselle with relaxation in the midst of a stressful week, but it also adds an individualized flair to the halls of East

“I want to paint something different that no one else had,” Louiselle said. “You can paint on paper and canvases, but painting on shoes is different.”

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Cooper McCullough

Sifting through clothes at Mission Hope Thrift, a local thrift shop, junior Cooper McCullough notices a black 2000 MLS Cup hat peeking out from under piles of clothes. McCullough knows there’s a story behind the hat.

“I find it cool to start thinking about the process of who had [the hat] first, and then the guy who had it gave it to his friend, who gave it to his friend and it ended up in a thrift store,” McCullough said.

Since freshman year when he began looking for camo outfits for the “cougar hunt” themed football games at Saver’s, thrifting has evolved into a passion of McCullough’s.

In fact, Cooper’s enthusiasm for thrifting motivated him to open up his own thrift store in December through an Instagram account, @cbmthrift.  On McCullough’s thrift account, he resells clothing products such as Messi soccer jerseys, New Balance tennis shoes or any other clothing that he feels he would wear.

McCullough explained that timing is key to thrifting, as clothes in thrift shops will either be a hit or miss depending on people who come in before him. So about every two weeks, McCullough heads to Plato’s Closet, Salvation Army and Goodwill to buy 40-50 articles of clothing to sell, then he comes home to wash the clothes.

The last step for him is to snap a picture of the clothing and upload it to @cbmthrift. Currently, McCullough’s account only features male clothing and is solely Instagram-based. However, he is planning on incorporating women’s clothing into his account and will be hosting a pop-up shop with racks of clothing items set up in his driveway within the next few weeks.

For McCullough, the nicest part of owning his own thrifting business is he can control all of it.  He explained that it doesn’t feel like a job because if he has a week where he has a lot of homework, he doesn’t have to post much. But if he isn’t too busy, he can post three different items a day.

Since the start of McCullough’s thrift business in December, his store has been successful, as he has sold nearly all items he has posted on @cbmthrift.

“Cooper and I have similar styles, so it makes it easier to shop if I buy from him,” senior Taylor Stover said.  “We both love hats and retro granola shirts.”

It depends on what people are looking for, but after he posts on @cbmthfit, he will receive DM’s from followers expressing their interest in the clothes as soon as two minutes after the post.

“The best part to the business is getting to interact with the customers,” McCullough said.  “I’ve had this freshman who has bought four items, and it’s awesome to deliver the items to him and then see him wear the items around school.”

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