shoelace manifestos

We were invited by Famous Footwear to participate in their Step Forward campaign, which celebrates creativity, being our best selves, and stepping forward with confidence. I’m a big champion of encouraging self-confidence in kids, and this is a message I can easily stand behind. The TinkerLab philosophy is rooted in giving children voice, supporting their individuality, and encouraging self-expression, so of course I had to look to some kids, which happened to be my own, for direction on this project.

These are the questions that guided us:

How can we encourage children to be their best selves and step forward with confidence?

What do they care about?

What are their dreams?

i heart reading shoe beading

All sorts of ideas were brewing in my mind, mostly along the lines of painting or stenciling our shoes with brave colors or bold messages, but again, I wanted my kids to take the lead on this one. After all, following a child’s curiosity is a tenet of my philosophy as both a parent and arts educator.

So I posed this question to my girls:

“How can we celebrate our personalities through our shoes?”

And that’s when my 8-year old suggested that we make Shoelace Manifestos. 

Ohhhh, I love this idea so much, and it’s so her! 

She loves to write affirmations and positive statements in her journals, so we decided to celebrate this.

But how? She suggested square letter beads as a way to create a mini shoelace billboard of our affirmations.




Noun:a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer. (Merriam-Webster)

This quote by French fashion and shoe designer, Roger Vivier, is a lovely sentiment for this project:

“To wear dreams on one’s feet is to begin to give a reality to one’s dreams.”

Like so many children, my kids love their sneakers, and so we all decided to bead up new shoes from Famous Footwear.

My 8-year old and I both chose classic Chuck Taylors. I haven’t owned a pair of these since college, but oh-how-I-loved-these. It’s so fun to get my feet in these again. Swoon!

My 6-year old fell madly in love with these Roxy Rizzo shoes, and practically wore them into the ground before I had a chance to shoot these photos, but it’s a sign of how much she enjoys them.

They are the cutest and get tons of compliments…especially when clean. 😉

shoe bead letters 1

We set up the shoes for inspiration, and filled a bowl with these beads.

letter shoe bead hunt

I didn’t give the kids any guidance and was curious to see where they would take this. My 6-year old spelled out NEW YORK. I asked her about it later and she told me that she loves New York. Not all the noise, but the tall buildings.

letter beads shoes new york
letter shoe beads new york chair

After lacing these up, we took them for a ride on the swing. To give them some air and speed in true New York fashion.

shoe bead swing 2

My 8-year old adores reading and came up with this message: I ❤️ READING.

i heart readingShe really does. In fact, after pulling this together, she quietly snuck away and happily curled up with a book.

i love reading shoe beads

My initials are RAD, which I love, so I knew I wanted the word RAD on one shoe, and my kids suggested SOUL for the other. They’re into puns and thought it was both meaningful and funny to play with the words soul and sole. 

rad soul shoe beads square

Yes, it’s perfect!

Make a Shoelace Manifesto

If you need a little kick-start, start here:

  1. Ask: What are you curious about? 
  2. Try to limit the beads on each shoe to six, although seven could work. “Reading” is seven letters, and barely fit on a size 3 kids’ shoe.
  3. Use these beads. Heads up: Some packages don’t come with even quantities of letters, so it’s best if you can see the beads in person.
  4. Try one of these affirmations, or use these as a point of inspiration:
    1. Smart – Cookie
    2. Kind – Kid
    3. Dream – Big
    4. I am – Strong
    5. Cre -ative
    6. Posi – tive
    7. I am – Loved
    8. I am – Kind
    9. Good – Human
    10. I ❤️ – Myself
    11. I ❤️ – Soccer
    12. I ❤️ – Dance (etc.)
  5. Take a photo of your shoes and tag it with #shoelacemanifesto

Thank you to Famous Footwear for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

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  1. This would be fun to add to creative ways to lace your shoes. You could fit even more words.

    • You are so right, Amie! More words would be easy to add.

  2. Super cute idea! I love seeing great, fresh ideas.

  3. Love, love, love this idea!! Going to create this with my Grandkiddos!

    • I love hearing that you’ll try this with your grandkids 🙂 Thanks for sharing with me, Kim. x

  4. I love this!! I have a pair of black on black Chuck Taylor’s and the beads would really pop against the black. I work with children and the end of our Spring term is rapidly approaching. I may buy beads and do this with them. Thank you!

    • Hi Ejay, Awseome! I’m happy to hear that this inspired you. xo

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