What Recession? Small Company Enjoys Huge Success Selling Hand-Painted Sanita Clogs

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The Swanx works with local artists to create original, wearable art for your feet!

Curtis and Shawna Johnson, Owners of The Swanx.

Curtis and Shawna Johnson, Owners of The Swanx.

The unique shoes, which feature a vast array of hand-painted designs, including custom orders and pet portraits, attract customers from all over the world who are looking for something special and one-of-a-kind in this era of mass production.

Curtis and Shawna Johnson's two-car garage looks like a cross between a shoe boutique, a warehouse, and a funky art gallery. There are four long work tables running the length of the space, decorated with rows and rows of beautiful, hand-painted Sanita shoes, ready for shipment. Curtis is busy with mailing labels and boxing tape, focused on getting the shoes out the door quickly and into the hands of excited customers around the globe.

Ask Curtis or Shawna when they last had a day off, and they'll probably laugh. Just three short years ago, however, they couldn't have even dreamed they'd be where they are today.

It all began when Shawna, who worked long shifts on her feet as a nurse, came home one night and mentioned to Curtis that she wished her black Sanita clogs--a longtime favorite in the healthcare community for their comfort and stability--were as pretty and colorful as the brightly patterned scrubs she wore to work each day. Luckily, Curtis took note, and an idea was born. Hand-painted clogs!

"We worked hard to develop the right formula for our collection: the perfect paint, the proper sealant, the most beautiful designs," says Curtis. "But one thing that was never in question was our canvas. We chose Sanita, the original clog. You can't beat hand craftsmanship and over 100 years experience."

The couple now work with 15 local artists to create hand-painted designs sold exclusively at http://www.theswanx.com . In this down economy, when more and more artists and designers are forced to look for work outside their field, The Swanx is able to provide more than enough work for these talented painters!

"Working with The Swanx has been a great opportunity," says Jeanie Lewis, who was one of the first artists hired by the Johnsons. "It doesn't even feel like work!"

The unique shoes, which feature a vast array of designs, including custom orders and pet portraits, attract customers from all over the world and all walks of life--people looking for something special and one-of-a-kind in this era of mass production. 

Almost three years have passed since their original idea, and The Swanx is still steadily growing their sales, month after month. In fact, this February--typically a slow time for retail sales--was one of their busiest months yet. Their Facebook fan base is nearing 12,000 and shows no sign of slowing. They have recently been featured on NBC and in the Puget Sound Business Journal. The Swanx is living proof that there are still small business success stories out there.

The company is such a success, in fact, that the Johnsons will soon outgrow their garage warehouse and move to a larger commercial space, which will allow them to grow even further.

"Right now we're just enjoying the ride and looking forward to the future," Curtis says of their newfound success. "The sky's the limit!"  

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Kira Chelemedos/PR Manager
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