• Grant Bardelli

Owner Spotlight: Matthew Keyes

I recently took some time to speak with my good friend, Matthew Keyes, about his business, Works By Keyes. His business is focused on creating custom shoes from scratch, as well as hand painting designs. If you'd like to visit his site, you can at

Can you tell me a little about yourself Matt?

"Yeah, my name is Matthew Keyes and I'm currently a Junior at Loyola. I am originally from Columbus, Ohio and am double majoring in finance and marketing. Outside of shoes, I love music, traveling, and running. Right now, I am training for a marathon in Wisconsin. I actually find that a lot of the time when I am running, I get inspiration for my shoes." How did you get into shoes originally? "It started off when I was younger and my dad was always wearing Nike Air Maxes. I started wearing them and it got me interested in other shoes. At the time, I was playing competitive basketball, so I was always looking to have the coolest shoes, especially LeBron's and KD's. Eventually, it got to a point where I cared more about the shoes than I did about the game."

When did you decided you wanted to go into customization?

"When I got to college, I was really into this YouTuber who painted shoes. I saw his videos and thought, 'I could do that,' so I did. I painted for a while, but eventually got tired of it, so I looked for other ways to get involved with shoes. That's what led my to the Shoe Surgeon."

Who's the Shoe Surgeon? "He's this guy who creates custom shoes from scratch. He makes them for athletes and celebrities, and offers a class where you can learn to make your own. I took [the class] this summer and was even more hooked. I began buying the equipment necessary to build my own shoes, and that's what I have been doing for about the past 5 months."

What types of shoes do you make?

"Right now, it is primarily the original Jordan 1, just because it's the model I learned how to make with the Shoe Surgeon, so I am pretty good at it now. I tried making a low top Jordan 1, but it did not turn out great because I made it out of sting-ray leather."

How long does it take to make a Jordan 1 by hand? "If I worked 9-5 everyday, it would probably take a week. Obviously, with school and everything, I am not able to do that. So, depending on what I have going on, it can take me anywhere from 10 days to over two weeks to complete a pair of Jordan 1's."

What types of shoes do you want to make in the future? "Well, my favorite shoe is probably the Jordan IV, so I want to figure out how to perfect that. In the long-term though, I want to design and create my own unique shoe. I want it to be something different and not like anything that is out right now." What are your other goals in the future? "In the near future, I'm thinking of maybe going to Italy to get a masters in shoe making, but I am not completely sure at the moment. I know that eventually I want to start my own store making shoes. Hopefully I will be able to grow it and become a thing across the country."

Where can people go to see your work?

"If they want to see what I've already done, my Instagram, @worksbykeyes, has finished photos of all the shoes I have made. I am hoping to make a YouTube page soon to document my process of making a shoe, but I haven't been able to find a time to do that yet. Also, if you want me to make shoes for you, you can find the details on my website, but as I said before, it can take a while to complete."

If you want to learn more about Works By Keyes, visit his page on our website, and give him a follow on Instagram.

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