The Girl With The Wicked Sneakers

NYU students are stereotypically known for being very artsy, but not everyone takes advantage of it. Despite being a Politics major on a Pre-Law track, incoming NYU freshman and native New Yorker Morgan Raum used her creativity to start her own custom sneaker business, Sneakers by Morgan.

If you want one of a kind, vibrant sneakers to show off your personal style and school spirit, then Morgan’s your girl. Morgan made her first pair of sneakers at the beginning of her junior year of high school, and since then she’s drawn over ten, gorgeous, colorful custom pairs and managed to be given a shout out on NYU’s very own Facebook page. Impressive, right? Here’s what she has to say about the crazy process of turning her talent into seriously cool entrepreneurship.

HCNYU: What made you choose NYU?

MR: I love New York City, and honestly I really love having the opportunity to be here for another four years in a new location because I’ve lived on the Upper East Side my whole life. I love the [Greenwich Village] area, and I really like all the opportunities that NYU has to offer, especially in my favorite city.

HCNYU: When did you realize you were in love with art and design?

MR: I’ve been drawing since before Kindergarten, and I’ve been going to art school since 7th grade. I started designing clothes in 7th or 8th grade. I drew on my jeans, like little cartoons and the Rolling Stones symbol. Freshman year I started silk screening skeletons on some shirts, and I started selling those. I started making shoes in junior year, and recently I’ve started doing college ones.



HCNYU: What gave you the idea to start creating custom sneakers?

MR: I love designing and I saw some pictures on Instagram of someone who had drawn on shoes. One of my best friend’s does the same thing. I’ve done 11 or 12 pairs [of sneakers] at this point.

HCNYU: Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?

If it’s a college one, I look up things that the college is known for, or I ask somebody what they would like to represent their school on their shoes. I mostly do what people ask me to do. They’re custom shoes, so they’ll tell me “oh I like robots,” so that happened once and I drew robots on one shoe and physics equations on the next one.

HCNYU: Can you walk us through your typical ordering process?

MR: The person who wants the shoes tells me their size, and I just go on Zappos, and it’s free shipping, and I order the shoe and it comes within one day, and I start drawing.

HCNYU: What types of tools do you use to design your sneakers? How long does it typically take to complete one pair?

MR: First I outline everything in pencil on the shoe and then I outline that in a black pen or marker, and then I use exclusively Sharpies to fill it in with color. [My favorite part] is coloring everything in and seeing what it’s going to look like and arranging all the colors together so that it looks final and goes together. One pair is about 10-15 hours.

HCNYU: Where do you want your business to go? Do you see it being something you do professionally, or is it only a side hobby?

MR: As of right now it’s a hobby, but if it goes somewhere I definitely wouldn’t mind. I really like it and I love designing and I love drawing.

HCNYU: What kind of feedback have you received on your creations?

MR: A lot of people really like it. I sold Boston University shoes to this girl and her mom has a segment on Good Morning America and she reposted my shoes on her Instagram, saying “I love this. I wish I could put these on my show.” A lot of adults really like them – [like] my friends parents. People comment on my instagram saying they really like them.

HCNYU: How did you feel when you saw NYU reposted a picture of your sneakers on Facebook? That must have been really cool.

MR: I was really excited because I haven’t even started yet and they have a very large Facebook community. They have 450,000 likes, so I felt very famous for the day. It was fun. My mom was proud.

HCNYU: How do you plan on balancing your studies with your sneakers business?

MR: I’ve mostly been doing them during the summer, so I’ve had a lot of free time. That’s really what I’ve wanted to do this summer. I definitely want to [continue Sneakers by Morgan when I start NYU]. I’ll try to find a few hours here and there during the week. Even if I did one hour a day, I could probably have a pair of shoes done by the end of the week.

HCNYU: What are your favorite kinds of designs to draw? What’s the favorite pair you’ve done so far?

MR: [My favorite pair is] probably the Boston University shoes that I made just because I feel everything went really well together. When I’m drawing [for] myself and not on shoes, I mostly use pencil and Sharpie sometimes, and I like drawing people and body parts. It’s vastly different than what I do on the shoes. The shoes are mostly small little illustrations that are very detailed.

HCNYU: Do you only design Vans shoes? Do you plan on expanding to other mediums?

MR: Yeah, anyone can request a different shoe if they want to. I think that I’m about to draw on some high top Converse sneakers, so it’s really up to the person that wants the sneakers. I was thinking that I could start doing baseball caps because my dad has really been encouraging that especially since I could order them in advance and not have to do any specific size. Backpacks could be really cool, I should think about that.

HCNYU: Beyond designing sneakers, what are your other hobbies? Do you participate in any other forms of art?

MR: I’ve been playing piano since Kindergarten. I also sing and I love music. I’m mostly into drawing and music. Photography too. I’m pretty artsy, I guess.

HCNYU: How much do they cost?

MR: The Classic Vans are $95 including the price of the shoe. If it’s Converse high tops, then it’s going to be more because I’ll spend a lot more time on it, so it will probably be about $115. It will probably change in the future if I get more popular and can get people to pay more.


Take a look at more of the shoes Morgan's designed below and try not to fall in love. To get your own personally designed pair, you can contact via Tumblr (, Instagram (@sneakersbymorgan), or through her NYU email ([email protected]).