Toms Artist Interview
Blake Barash is an entrepreneur, owning and starting his own business, and an artist, that business being a platform for selling custom, hand painted shoes. He has only recently moved into this position, but life events brought him into this position, and it’s a successful one.
Me: So Blake, let’s start with some basic questions, when did you start painting
Blake: Well, My mom is an artist, so she got me to draw and paint pretty young. She had a studio in the backyard. I used to help her do random stuff with glass, that was her main medium; she would melt and blow different glass forms. But it wasn’t until I got into high school, and started doing graffiti, that it became my own thing.
Me: Graffiti is a pretty difficult medium, did you learn on your own.
Blake: it was a combination of learning on my own, and watching my friends do it. It’s all about technique and application, you can learn it pretty fast.
Me: Did you ever get caught?
Blake: No not really, I was pretty lucky compared to my friends. We had a crew of four guys at my high school, and unfortunately, 3 of those guys were expelled for graffiti. It was pretty serious. The police set up a sting at the school. I stopped for a while after that.
Me: Sounds pretty lucky, so how did you come to work for toms?
Blake: I found an ad for the job, and just applied. I had been painting custom hats for a while for friends. One of those friends found the job and sent the application to me. I just applied and got it. I would go do different shows with them, painting shoes or whatever they had. It was a lot of fun.
Me: Is that where the idea for Bstreet came about?
Blake: year pretty much, I was painting for toms, and just came to realize that I was pretty good at it. People like what I did, so I figured I could branch out on my own and sell shoes through my own company. I had other jobs at the time, would be so stressed out from those that I had trouble staying with them. Finally quit my job at a bank, and dove into Bstreetshoes full time last year.
Me: That must have been pretty nerve racking to go out on your own, without a back up
Blake: yea is was for sure, I was super motivated to get things going, and didn’t have to be anywhere else for a job or anything, so I was completely focused on painting, marketing, and branding.
Me: when did you first start seeing a lot of sales?
Blake: it took a couple of months, pretty much when I started advertising online with different fashion blogs around the country and world. At first I didn’t get any sales, and I didn’t know why, I would go around passing out fliers, going to different events, just trying to hustle. But I learned from a friend in the biz, how to advertise online and get connected. From there I started seeing sales. Now I’m getting sales all over the world. I recently just got an order for 35 shoes in Kuwait, with a girl setting up a boutique there.
Me: that’s pretty sick, having people wear your shoes in different countries.
Blake: Yea its so cool to think about, I want to keep expanding and keep sales going strong, I love painting, so this is the perfect situation.
Me: do you have any advice for an someone trying to make it in the art world ?
B lake: it’s a pretty hard thing, to make money with art. But if you really want to do it , just keep trying and putting your name out there, don’t be afraid to try something different, or go out own your own, if it fails, you just keep going on, its just art. Its not that serious.