Somebody is walking around with an exclusive pair of Winnipeg Jets sneakers — and she likely doesn’t know she’s the only person with a pair.
Neepawa high school student Kennedy Baker was floored after a shoe she designed — the sole prototype — was purchased the day it went on shelves at the Jets Gear store in Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.
Her size eight women’s shoe was purchased before the buzzer sounded to end the first period.
"I was blown away, I didn’t think it was going to sell," said Baker, a Grade 12 student at Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute, of the unexpected transaction last November. "It was amazing that somebody other than my parents thought my art was cool."
Baker, though, had a hunch others were fond of her artistry.
Her mother, Jodi, posted her Jets shoe design on Facebook, a minimalistic arrangement with the NHL’s team logo painted over the toecap, the sneaker otherwise white.
Friends said they wanted a pair for themselves.
One person who saw the post was a man who once went to school with Jodi, and now works for True North and Entertainment, the owners of the team. He also wanted a pair.
"I thought he was joking," said Kennedy Baker, "but then he said, ‘Actually, I want to see a pair and maybe we could sell them.’"
Their first conversation, before a Jets game last November, went well. The club was pleased, asking for more samples. They weren’t currently selling a shoe, and felt this was a market worth tapping into.
True North said they would speak with their distributor and see if they can mass-produce Baker’s designs using screen-printing instead of by hand.
The family is now waiting to hear back. If successful, the Jets plan to give Baker a local license to make shoes to be sold at the club’s retailers.
"It’s pretty awesome," marveled the 17-year-old. "I might be able to make my way through college and university with it."
Her mother said she’s proud her daughter’s handiwork is being acknowledged.
Jodi remembers when she heard the news her daughter’s first pair of shoes were swiped minutes into that night’s game.
"I just stopped walking," she said, while browsing Polo Park Shopping Centre in Winnipeg, "I couldn’t believe it.
Apparently, a couple other people tried the shoe earlier, but it didn’t fit. The buyer was the first person the shoe fitted.
Kennedy Baker, who plans to take the interactive media arts program at Assiniboine Community College after high school, has since painted two more Jets shoes, one with the team’s original logo and another with the current emblem. The white sneakers, which she purchased separately, aren’t her size, so she isn’t wearing them.
It leaves her fitted with the first kicks she ever painted, honouring the maroon-look of the Vancouver Millionaires, which competed in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and later the Western Canada Hockey League in the early 1900s.
» Twitter: @ianfroese