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2016 Linfield Magazine Winter

If you can imagine it, Blake Barash ’06 can paint it on your Nikes. As the founder of B Street Shoes, Barash combines savvy business skills with artistic design to create custom hand-painted shoes based on a client’s concept. The work is a seamless blend of his liberal arts education, which combined a degree in international business with art and travel. As the son of an art teacher, Barash discovered a love of art early. At Linfield, he explored painting and torch working, while taking business classes and studying abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico. “The best thing an artist can study in college is business,” he said. “You want to be able to make money with your art, and business teaches you to do that.” After graduation, Barash was a credit analyst in the banking industry, nurturing his creativity by painting for Toms, a shoe company. “Those were building years,” he said of his work at Tom’s. “I was figuring out the logistics of running a small business and I learned all I could about e-commerce.” The B Street Shoes business model relies heavily on e-commerce, offering more than 200 unique designs for sale on their website (bstreetshoes.com) and Etsy. Barash spends little on advertising, spreading the word of his products through social media instead – on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. Photography and video are keys to his success. “It might take a buyer seeing the shoe to decide what they want,” he explained. “These aren’t impulse buys. Showing buyers what I do every day lets them get to know me as a person.” He and three other artists paint some 45 pairs of shoes each month, and that number doubles during the holidays. Shoes range from $150-300. His company was featured in The New York Times, and is on target to gross $250,000 this year. Barash said Linfield’s small classes and individual focus on each student were crucial to his success as a student. “You don’t fall through the cracks,” said Barash, who built strong relationships with faculty including the late Clemens Ady (business) and Jeff Peterson (sociology). “I learned that my teachers were counting on me to get things done, and I felt responsible to them and myself. College was the first time I really learned how to study, and that has benefited me since. You have to be learning every day or you will fall behind.” – Laura Davis Blake Barash ’06, founder of B Street Shoes, lives and works two blocks from the beach in Costa Mesa, Calif. “I feel fortunate to wake up, play with my dog, surf and spend the rest of the day discussing art work and painting,” he said. a l u m n i n o t e s Coliseum Northside Hospital. Brian Simpson ’96 of La Quinta, Calif., is regional sales manager for Kemper Sports in southern California. Mitchell Allen ’97 of Eugene is property director for St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County. Amy (Bick) Jackson ’97 of Tualatin is manager of launch and development for Ecova. Mary (Nightingale) Lago ’97 of Hillsboro is vice president and a member of the wealth management committee at Ferguson Wellman Capital Management. Samantha (Christensen) Yaple ’97 of Eugene is teaching Spanish at O’Hara Catholic School in Eugene. David and Jessica (Brewer) Gaibler ’98 and ’99 of Portland had a daughter, Stella Rose, Sept. 14, their third. Kristin Abel ’99 of Portland is a partner in the firm Bodyfelt Mount, a civil litigation firm. Courtney (Woodruff) Flood ’99 of Happy Valley is president of the Junior League of Portland, benefitting victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking. Karen (Churchill) Garcia ’99 of Yuba City, Calif., was one of three nominees for the 2016 Pinnacle Award for Affiliate Manager of the Year by the performance marketing industry. She is CEO at GTO Management. Carol (Zeigler) Underhill ’99 of Victorville, Calif., is returning to Oregon to serve as public affairs specialist for the Blue Mountains National Forests. She will be stationed in Pendleton. Fancy footwork 2 6 - l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e Winter 2016


2016 Linfield Magazine Winter
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