Since the ripe age of sixteen, most of the internships I’ve done have been in more of a corporate realm. A classic 9-to-5 job, where you do your tasks for the day and then repeat the same things over and over again. Although I enjoyed these internships, sometimes all I could really think about was being a “cog” in the system known as the working world. Was there more to the world than just this? Was there a chance to explore both my creative side as well as business side?
The answer I’ve found is yes, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience this firsthand at B Street Shoes.
My name is Emma Lam and I’m a sophomore Strategic and Corporate Communication major. During the 2020 interterm I had the pleasure of working alongside six lovely individuals at B Street Shoes and BLVD Custom. B Street Shoes and BLVD Custom are a custom shoe printing and painting company, that always puts their customers first. B Street Shoes focuses on creating pieces of art on each pair of shoes, catered to the customers themselves, whereas BLVD Custom focuses on printing unique designs on Vans and Converse.
My tasks as an intern ranged from back-end activities to more physical tasks like shipping out shoes. The back-end tasks included using tools like ShipStation, Etsy, CustomMovement, Shopify, and more online tools. Using all of these tools I would help update their website, write blog posts, and overall make sure their online presence has a high SEO rate and was working properly. I also worked as a social media manager, posting their various shoes on Instagram to promote the company.
Most recently I promoted their Provost Park Pass shoe collection, where BLVD Custom partnered alongside the popular YouTube channel to create a line of custom-designed Vans and Converses (which you can find here). Alongside my boss – and School of Communication alumna – Jasmine Lee, we would look for new artists to collaborate with as another means to get their name out into the world. From the get-go the staff trusted that I would get the job done and go above and beyond, which I appreciated immensely.
In combination with my expected responsibilities, there was another side of the small business, which I wasn’t aware of. Because this company is so small in comparison to giant corporations, we had to ship the shoes out ourselves and make sure there were no errors in doing so. From cleaning the shoes after printing to shipping them out, to lacing them up just right, there wasn’t any room for error, or it would reflect badly on us.
All of these tasks made me realize how much work and effort goes into running a business yourself – all you can truly rely on is yourself and the few coworkers around you.
Throughout my internship experience at B Street, I definitely took into account how crucial communication is in a small business, especially in the “sneakerhead world.” You need to communicate daily progress to your peers, or else risk stopping. You need to communicate to your target audience why your product (in this case, shoes) is the best on the market. Whether it be through something that’s deemed insignificant, like the product description, or more visual aspects, such as pictures, each thing contributes to whether or not the business succeeds.
For each individual segment of a small business, communication is essential in all regards, and a different style is needed depending on your projected outcome or audience. This really reminded me of the concept of marketing to your target audience, something I learned all through Strategic and Corporate Communication classes, and it was nice to see it applied in a real-world business.
I also learned things I never would have without the help of B Street. Despite not being the biggest “sneakerhead,” I was able to learn about designing, producing, and marketing shoes. I learned what it was like to work in a small environment and how to lace shoes properly. I learned to appreciate giving a fistbump instead of a handshake. And although I might not see myself working in a small business, I will never forget this sense of respect for those who do so as well as the sense of pride and accomplishment I learned this month. I’m excited to finish this opportunity with these newfound skill sets and apply them in the future.