“I hadn’t had any time to prepare outfits for us but I wanted my 4-year-old son Justus to look really cool," she said

"He had a new pair of slip-on Vans and I suddenly had an idea, looking at the checkerboard design.” After that, she started hand-beading the shoes to make them look like traditional moccasins. “Once they were beaded they had this sort of urban Indian vibe so I braided my son’s hair, put on those shoes and he was the coolest little guy at the pow wow.” she continued, “People were stopping us to take photos, he made such a splash.”

And the shoes didn't just wow others — they gave Charlene's son a chance to "express his tribal identity" and partake in the usual kid antics (like running around), and he was proud to show them off. "It wasn't entirely traditional but a modern adaptation in helping him expressing his culture," she tells Teen Vogue.

After the photos from the festival were posted on social media, Charlene started getting contacted by people wanting her to make them shoes as well, and that’s when it took off. On her website, Charlene shows examples of already-completed custom orders, each with their own unique spin, alongside stunning hand beaded jewelry that's also available for purchase.

Her current pieces stem from Charlene's original work as a Native artist creating dolls and figures with a historic background, in which she used traditional Lakota beadwork.

"I feel that I am continuing the process while establishing a Native unique aesthetic, as well as communicating Native survival and commitment to showing that," she says. "In this case, I expressed it in beading a pair of slip-ons.

There is a historical tradition design that I used specifically for the Vans based off Lakota moccasins."

Responses to "Meet the Lakota Designer Who Turned Vans Into Custom-Beaded Art"

  1. says:

    Where can one order?

  2. Unknown says:

    I think u have nice contemporary ideas. Just a thought, did u ever see the fully beaded moccasins that are made in China? To get anywhere in mass production, a bead machine would be needed. I have no idea where to even start looking for one but what do u think? If I had a boyfriend that was a engineer, I'm sure one could be invented. They would still b authentic but think of the $ that would be produced?

  3. Unknown says:

  4. Sarah Emm says:

    I want a pair! How can they be purchased?

  5. Unknown says:


  6. SOME MEDIOCRE ELITIST with resources and money will steal this idea and never give her a dime for coming up with it. #AsAmeriKKKanAsApplePie

  7. Can you post a link to order if she doesn't take orders, can you post that so we know?

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