Shoe customization business really taking off for Cardinal Mooney grad
Brennan Bizon recently won a major custom competition, became a sponsored artist and has a Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver as a client.
For many college kids, juggling school and a job or a sport can be demanding. For Youngstown's Brennan Bizon, a sophomore at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, he's working on a double major and running a small business.
21 News Anchor Derek Steyer first profiled Brennan and his custom shoe painting business three years ago. Since that time, it has really taken off.
"I always knew where I wanted to go with it, but it’s definitely exceeded what I ever expected it could be," said Bizon.
Inside his small dorm room at Duquesne, Brennan works feverishly on a pair of white Nike shoes.
"It’s a small operation more or less. The room is a little bit packed with all the shoe boxes and stuff but I could do it in a closet if I had to," Brennan said.
Working on a double major and his business, Bizon Customs, Brennan doesn't get much sleep. "I don't think I've fallen asleep before 1:30 am in about a month or two," he said.
But for Brennan, he wouldn't have it any other way. He's got shoes everywhere. In his closet, on top of his closet.
"I am 24/7 with shoes right now," he said.
The business is booming.
"I was pretty much just booked from January to September," he said.
Brennan started the business while in high school at Cardinal Mooney. What started out as a hobby, quickly turned into a hot commodity.
Within the last couple years, Brennan won the Ace of Customs competition at Sneaker Con in Cleveland, became sponsored by the paint company he uses and is being requested by people and celebrities across the country.
His prices start at $200 and go up from there depending on the complexity of the project. And it's not just sneakers, he's done boots, high heels, and flip-flops.
He was approached by a sports agency called Sports Trust to do a couple different pairs for the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats campaign. "It was very cool because last year was something where I sort of sat on the outside and watched. It was a long-term goal, more or less. I want to be a part of that, so this year when they asked me, it was just an immediate yes," Bizon said.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is also a client.
"It happened through Instagram where someone messaged me and said that they were friends with him and they wanted me to make a pair for him and I sort of thought it was a joke at first and it ended up actually being his friend and things worked out. I was able to make him a pair of shoes and then for this past season we made him cleats for Christmas," Bizon said.
He also recently did a pair for rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Duquesne even asked him to customize shoes for new basketball coach Keith Dambrot to commemorate his first win.
"We did a pair to pay tribute to his father, Sid Dambrot, and we did it on a LeBron shoe because he coached LeBron in high school so it was kind of a perfect fit," Bizon said.
When they unveiled the shoes to coach Dambrot and the team, they went nuts.
"That’s what makes it all worth it in the end. When you get to see the look on someone’s face of something you worked on for weeks at a time and designed over hours of time so, it’s very cool," Bizon said.
And for Brennan, it's those reactions that make the long hours in his small dorm room, juggling a double major and running a small business, good for the sole.