A Co Derry man has described how he turned his hobby of saving old shoes into a custom design for music superstar Dua Lipa.
Shea Gribbons, 26, from Maghera, has been designing and painting shoes for several years, becoming full-time in 2019.
The cycling enthusiast once said MyDerry how his friend, who rides a bike in Belgium, encouraged him to pursue his passion.
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Since then, business has boomed for Shea, creating shoes for a host of cyclists and celebrities, including Tour de France athletes. Marc Cavendish and Luka Mezgec, and now, singing sensation Dua Lipa.
Shea, who has 20,000 subscribers on instagramexplained how the “incredible opportunity” presented itself.
He said: “When I first started doing work like this a few years ago, I first started out working for a company in Australia.
“They make cycling shoes, but if the person wants to customize them, they would come to me and I could do whatever they wanted, basically.
“Me and Nick, who is the owner, have become quite friends over the years and have developed a good relationship with each other and usually if something big happens to them Nick would usually ask me first if I wanted to do it.
“So one night I was about to go to bed and I got a text from Nick in all caps if I wanted shoes for Dua Lipa.
“When you hear your head start spinning, your heart races. It’s amazing. I never imagined that I would do these types of projects.
“The pressure you feel is instantaneous too. I feed off the pressure, but sometimes when you’re working alone there’s a different kind of pressure. It kind of builds up.
“The answer was always going to be yes, but the schedule I had was crazy. Everything had to be done very quickly. We immediately got to work. I was looking for someone to work with for the last little while before the offer to make the shoes.
Shea continued: “It was always my next step to find someone and I managed to work a bit with a designer who was a student and we put the shoes on straight away.
“We brainstormed a few ideas about each other and came up with an idea straight away. She was on her world tour which was postponed due to Covid.
“We had about a week and a half to do them, it was mental but we took it in our stride.
“The Toyota Center in Texas wanted to give her a gift and they contacted Nick who contacted me. He’s 40 so he had to google who Dua Lipa actually was, but I knew who she was because my sister is 21 and a big fan.
“Once she received the cycling shoes, we heard that she really liked them.
“Then you have the ups and downs of the whole experience. Once you send them to America, you realize that’s it.
“You have to anchor yourself again and go for the next big order that comes through the door.
“And people always assume that I only make cycling shoes, but that’s not the case. I can literally make any type of shoe people ask for.
“Big projects don’t come along every day, so I do a lot of commissions for different types of people, but I really have to pinch myself sometimes.”
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