Vinnys Customs Hand-painted Shoes Step into the NFL


Jessica Piland

Lamanna works on a commissioned pair of custom shoes in his North Lake Village dorm room.

Hayley Lemery, Assignment & Features Editor

Small business owner Vincent “Vinny” Lamanna has been operating Vinnys Customs out of his dorm room at FGCU. With his ever-growing business, his custom shoes were noticed by a professional athlete for the first time, a player on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He primarily creates custom shoes but has begun branching out and creating custom hats and accessories. His work has been sought out by college athletes, singers, rappers and the community, but this was a first for Lamanna.

“I really think this is the stepping stone to get my foot in the door,” Lamanna said. “Because when I was talking to him, he’s like, ‘yeah we all love custom cleats,’ so I’m sure they’ll definitely get some customs. I’m really excited.”

Depending on the design, his customized shoes vary in price from 75 dollars to over 500 dollars.

Lamanna has had his shoes featured on SportsCenter and Hype School, two large sports entertainment pages, through his customers. He sought out rising athletes to see who would be interested in his business. High school senior Audi Crooks in Algona, Iowa has ordered two custom sneakers from Vinnys Customs.

“I asked him for colorful shoes full of symbols that represent my life. I have my childhood nickname, school and club ball logos, bible verses and music lyrics that I really resonate with,” Crooks said. “I really loved my first pair because they were super unique and one of a kind, so I wanted another original pair for my senior year.” 

Crooks is continuing her basketball career to college and is committed to Iowa State Women’s Basketball.

“My shoes give people a widened perspective as to who I am as a person as well as a player,” Crooks said. “Aside from the attention that they get, they help me express different aspects of my journey in life and in basketball.” 

Lamanna is a senior majoring in marketing with a minor in business sales and has been using the resources at FGCU to his advantage.

He entered Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship’s Runway Program in spring 2021. This initiative gives students and alumni resources to start up their businesses. He asked for equipment such as shoes, displays and other items to help him when he goes to fashion shows and advertises his business. He calculated all the items from his list, and it totaled $10,777.

“As soon as I added it up, I just had this overall, beyond joy. It was like God was hugging me. Like, God was basically just telling me, ‘You just won the lottery,’” Lamanna said. 

He said the number 777 immediately made him think of the famous, lucky Las Vegas slot machine winning numbers. Then, one of his friends told him about the 777 angel numbers that mean God’s perfection. He now has custom jerseys made to advertise Vinnys Customs that have 777 on them.

“Before I even did the final pitch, I knew that I was gonna get it done. As soon as I was done, I had that same feeling again when I was done with the interview. So, before I even had the email, I 100 percent knew that I was getting the money, like God basically told me,” Lamanna said. “Without him I would be nowhere.”

Because of the Runway Program, he has been able to buy display equipment for fashion shows. That’s when he met Amanda Curbelo.

Curbelo owns a custom painted shoe company called DolEnna James in Southwest Florida that specializes in luxury heels. She met Lamanna last year after her assistant discovered him at an FGCU event. He created three pairs of shoes for a fashion show for professional women in March 2022.

She also owns an event company and helped coordinate Naples Fashion Week. Lamanna was featured in the accessory show.

“He is designing a pair of shoes right now for me to be seen for a special finale walk. That will take place in February of 2023. And I’m coordinating Fort Myers Fashion Week, which will take place in March or April of 2023 and we’re also going to be featuring a show with his designs for shoes specifically and accessories for that.”

Curbelo has seen Lamanna grow as an artist and said his creativity and drive is organic to him.

“One of the things that I really admire about him and enjoy is that he’s not only creative, and he’s really good at what he does, but he’s very smart and I think that he is just setting himself up to be incredibly successful,” Curbelo said.

She has seen him go out of his comfort zone by hand-painting high heels instead of athletic shoes.

“As he continues to branch out in his designs and what he’s willing to put his design on, I think that he opens himself up to just a huge demographic of people that could really appreciate his art,” Curbelo said.