BEACH CITY, Ohio (WJW) — A Stark County teen is grabbing the attention of NFL players requesting custom football cleat designs.
Fairless High School senior Jory Oakleaf, 17, launched his business about a year and a half ago called J’s Custom Kicks. Oakleaf creates designs by painting and airbrushing shoes and cleats inside his Beach City home.
“I kind of stumbled upon it on YouTube really, sneaker restoration. So I started with that, restoring old shoes, but then I realized I like making them my own,” said Oakleaf.
He says it all started with designing art on a shoe for a contest. It later caught the attention of a Detroit Lions player on social media who sent him a cleat to design. Oakleaf says he shipped back the finished product with business cards.
He said he was so excited to see NFL players C.J. Moore and Dee Virgin wear his custom designs on Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s a crazy feeling getting to watch them on the TV just sitting there, rewinding over and over again, watching my cleats on NFL players,” said Oakleaf.
Now Oakleaf says he is looking for support close to home.
“Definitely hoping the Browns give me a call, that’s my hometown team right there,” he said.
Oakleaf says custom designs can take more than five hours depending on the detail. Oakleaf says he does it all while balancing school and orders, but hopes to continue to grow his business and wants to expand to the NBA and MLB.
Jennfier Oakleaf, also an entrepreneur, says she is proud of her son and hopes other young people realize they can accomplish their goals.
“I hope they can learn to work hard and follow their dreams so many people are not happy in what they do,” she said.
Oakleaf says he is happy to live his dream and watch it transform with every client’s custom design. He says he is working on a website and conducts most business through his Instagram page and through email.
“If you feel like you don’t belong working for somebody else you should be the boss. You really have to go for it, find your niche and work at it. Start young and set yourself up,” said Oakleaf.