As last night’s Game 2 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks played on for 116 minutes and 12 seconds, 16-year-old Chicago girl, Hawks fan and young entrepreneur Liz Spurlock wasn’t working on any orders for her customers. She’d tried doing that in the first game of this round, and when the Blackhawks lost 4-1 to the Ducks, she decided she needed to focus on the game for the next one. And it worked! The Hawks won, 3-2.
Liz loves the Blackhawks and loves drawing pictures of the team and their logo. Last year, during spring break, she asked her mother, Lynne Pauly, if they could go to the mall to buy a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors because she had a painting project in mind. Lynne, knew some of her daughter’s other Blackhawks-related art projects were incomplete — like a painting she’d started of goaltender, Corey Crawford. Mom laid down the law and said Liz couldn’t start anything new until what she’d started was finished.
Canvas Shoes as a Canvas
She did finish those — well, and quickly too — and most, like the painting of Crawford and sketches she’s made of other Blackhawks players, have now been autographed. And that’s when she began, using the canvas shoes as a canvas, painting the logo of the team she loves so much on her brand new shoes, inspired by her Blackhawks pin collection and her personal favourite, a lucky feathers pin. When they were finished, her mom took a picture of those shoes, posted it on Facebook and the orders started flowing in.
With the initial interest she received, Liz figured she could paint a few pairs of shoes and turn it into a good summer job, something she could do to get some pocket change — instead of babysitting. But after the demand shown after just one week, she decided to set up her business, Kustom Team Kicks — and revisit her goals. She felt it was important to really do some good with some of the money she earned, and to make a difference. She loves animals and decided to support the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation, raising awareness for pit bulls and working with them to assist abused children. Bickell (#29) plays right-wing for the Hawks.
Ross K. MacNeill Foundation
One of her friend’s 11-year-old younger brother, Ross MacNeill, had lost his battle with brain cancer the year before. A foundation was set up in his name to raise money to end pediatric brain cancer by the time Ross would have turned 21, in 2023, and an annual hockey tournament is now running each June to raise money for the R33M Foundation, which Liz put at the top of her list of charities to support. Several current and former Blackhawks, like Marian Hossa, are active supporters of the event — and many were friends with Ross, who loved hockey and wore number 33 when he played. The 2nd Ross K. MacNeill Memorial Tournament takes place next month and Liz will be volunteering for the tournament, and will also be donating custom-painted shoes for their silent auction. Last year the tournament raised $54,000 for R33M.
Honoring Stan Mikita with Red Vans
It was at that very tournament last June that Blackhawks legendary center, Stan Mikita (#21), saw Liz’s mother wearing her Blackhawks-inspired shoes, and immediately commissioned a pair of white Converse hi tops for himself. Mikita, 75, won a Stanley Cup while playing for the Blackhawks in 1961 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. He loves to show off his Kustom Team Kicks and is one of a growing list of players/celebrities who have ordered shoes from Liz, a list that includes Blackhawks’ head coach Joel Quenneville‘s wife and daughter.
Ninety-five percent of the shoes that Liz is commissioned to paint are shoes with Blackhawks insignia on them such as their logo, player numbers, Stanley Cups, tomahawks and feathers. But many fans bring their own ideas, like the red Vans a fan ordered to honor Mikita, or the Cancer Cross Check shoes pictured on the left, bought by a Texan for a friend suffering from liver cancer. The front of these shoes
The cost of the customized shoes run at around $135 for hi tops and all are painted with textile/fabric paint, which is heat-set for durability, and a portion of every sale goes to both foundations. In addition, Liz often donates shoes to the foundations for auctions, and raises money for both from time to time with auctions through Kustom Team Kicks Facebook page.
You can make an order inquiry by emailing kustomteamkicks(at) gmail.com.
Strategist, writer and hockey mom. Notre Dame Hound. Luctor et emergo.