It all started with one pair of plain white shoes, a few tubes of paint and a burst of inspiration.
Since the start of the semester, senior kinesiology major Lindsey Rodkey has been designing and selling her custom-made, Maryland-themed shoes to her friends and peers. So far she has made and sold 15 pairs and is currently working on three or four more orders. She can crank out one pair, featuring painted designs of the state flag and a red cursive “Terps” on the heel, in an hour and a half.
“It started last spring coming out of a basketball game,” Rodkey said. “I saw a girl wearing Maryland flag shoes, and I asked her where she got them. I guess she custom-made them off of Keds, but they were expensive when I looked them up.”
The discovery inspired Rodkey — who has always enjoyed arts and crafts — to try her hand at making some Old Line-themed shoes of her own. After creating and choosing between several different designs, she posted a photo to her Facebook page. The public reaction was instantaneous.
“The shoes are really cool,” junior civil engineering major Meenu Singh said. “I am a huge fan of Maryland apparel, and when Lindsey posted a picture of the shoes, I immediately wanted a pair, especially because they are hand-painted.”
The shoes cost $25 a pair, and they come in sizes 6 through 10 as well as all half-sizes, except for size 9.5. While she currently only creates women’s shoes, Rodkey said she is planning to branch into men’s shoes because male students have also expressed interest.
The design is standard for every shoe, though Rodkey allows students to customize one blank section of the shoe with a requested color. She is also careful not to copy the exact Terps logo so she does not infringe on the trademark.
“I feel like incorporating flag print into apparel has become so popular recently, I’m almost surprised someone hasn’t picked up on shoes yet,” Rodkey said.
In just a few months, the designs have already drawn a lot of attention around the campus.
“My favorite was when I was walking through Lot 1 one time and someone stopped their car and yelled across like two rows, ‘Where did you get those shoes?’” Rodkey said. “And I was like, ‘I made them!’”
Singh, who works as a tour guide with Maryland Images, said she wears the shoes on her tours and has received plenty of compliments. The shoes are a great way to excite prospective students and families, she said.
Rodkey also created a “MD Flag Shoes” Facebook group in which students can post requests for a pair of her shoes, and she plans on setting up a Pinterest page over winter break to create a more legitimate site to sell and market her shoes. She said she also looked into selling her shoe design to Route One Apparel but reconsidered because she would not receive a commission.
When she first started creating the shoes at the beginning of the semester, Rodkey was a little overambitious, she said — she underestimated how much time each project would take and schoolwork started to pile up. But her customers were understanding and she’s now learned to strike a balance between class and her designs.
“I’ll probably still do them once I graduate,” she said. “If there’s still a demand for them, I’ll definitely still keep making them.”