Little Kai's Special Shoes

This is the story of how and why I designed the print for these shoes. This design is available on other products, but when I became aware I could print on shoes- I dropped everything and started this design, and this story is why.

  I grew up with what we will call modest means,  lucky though my mother had a cousin ,whom we called Aunt Mannie, who's children where grown and liked to splurge her money an my brother and I now and then. Important to the story also, beyond growing up without many of the things my peers took for granted ,even in elementary school, I was a chubby kid with low self esteem with divorced parents- plenty of ammo for the bullies of the day.

  The day before the first day of school Aunt Mannie took us shopping for new shoes, what was extra fun, she took me and my brother separately and she forbade my mother from coming. I was kind of in awe when we got there, I don't think i had ever been to a store that sold only shoes before. I only ever remember going to places like K-mart for shoes. when we got inside she told me me that whatever I got had to fit, and should last the year. I honestly don't remember how I found them, but I did- a pair of high tops, eclectic blue, something between teal and turquoise , the sales person helped me try them on, and they fit with a bit of room to spare, I LOVED THEM, while waiting in line at the register I saw a rack of shoe laces. nothing too radical honestly, just the little clear clamshell boxes with the folded laces inside, but I had never seen colored laces before, just the white or black ones that came on the shoes, Mannie most have noticed me staring because she offered to get me whatever ones I wanted, so I got purple, she even asked the sales person to put them in the shoes for us and she did.

  I wore them home, walking on cloud 9. I was so happy and excited. I probably thanked her 100 times, I couldn't wait to get home and show them off.

  My mother wasn't happy, she made snide comments about how once someone picked on me for them I wouldn't wear them and I should have gotten "normal shoes". I also remember overhearing a conversation between my mother and Aunt Mannie about mom worried people would think I'm gay because of the shoes. NOTE- Mannie was a lesbian, and probably the kindest person I have met to date.

  I wore those shoes to school, and no one said anything. I remember walking out and looking down at the bright colors and smiling- my mother was right though, I did stop wearing the shoes long before they stopped fitting, not because of kids at school... but the comments she would make.

  So this print is to reclaim lost childhood joy, to honor Aunt Mannie who has since passed, and to help heal wounds left by a women who at this moment is in an urn in a cubby under a coffee table