A group of teens from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County had the chance to view custom shoe designs and other artwork from Elijah Rutland, a 17-year-old artist and entrepreneur from Georgia, during a presentation Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Auburn.
Rutland is based out of his home in Macon, Georgia, where he creates custom designs on shoes and other items. His visit was part of the Living Artist Series created by Carol Carson, a well-known local artist who is working with the club this summer.
The inspiration for Rutland’s business Fix My Sole started when he began drawing shoes in the second grade, according to his father Charles. Elijah would draw Nike and Jordan shoes with his design ideas because his parents would not buy the real ones for him to paint.
“He would create the shoes in his mind,” Charles said.
In high school, Charles said he took his son Elijah to a Goodwill store to buy a pair of shoes to customize.
The ideas Elijah put on paper as a kid became a reality on the shoes he was using to create custom designs.
After using social media to display the designs, people from across the country began to take notice and brought Elijah shoes to design.
Charles said his son has to use a specialized paint for his shoe designs. Buying the paint was becoming very expensive because of the amount of requests Elijah was receiving for his designs.
Through Facebook, Elijah was able to have a conversation with the president of Jacquard Products. From that conversation, the company sponsors the paint Elijah uses for his designs. Other products Elijah designs include inline skates, backpacks, skateboards and cell phone cases.
On Facebook, Elijah uploads videos of him designing his products. His reach is consistently over 1 million people, according to Charles. Because of his reach, Facebook has ads on his videos.
Elijah will be a freshman this fall at Florida A&M University, where he will major in business.
During the event, one lucky club member was able to get his shoes customized by Elijah for free. Members watched as Elijah worked on the shoes.
Alexis Baker, a member of the club’s Potter-Daniel Unit, loved the designs.
“I really enjoyed the presentation,” Baker said.
Martavious Banks, a member of the club’s Auburn unit, said he was inspired by Elijah’s story.
“He’s making money and doing what he loves,” Banks said.
Elijah offered advice to teens interested in starting a business.
“It has to be something you’re passionate about,” Elijah said. “The passion you have for it will keep you going.”
For more information on Elijah’s business, visit www.fixmysole.bigcartel.com.