Student puts his best foot forward with sneaker idea

Mark Cahill is a 16-year-old entrepreneur with an idea that manages to balance fashion sense with cost-cutting cuteness.

A transition-year student at St Brendan’s College, Killarney, he has reached the last batch of contestants in the Young Entrepreneur programme at the Tralee Institute of Technology.

Having pitched his idea to a panel of Dragons that included Nora Casey and Jerry Kennelly last Friday, he now awaits, along with 15 other contestants, the final winner’s award on May 3.

Mark’s basic concept allows consumers customise their sneakers by using interchangeable soles, stripes, tongue, lining and laces which will be marketed as an accessory pack.

“Instead of buying one pair of sneakers and being stuck with that particular colour and style, my pack lets people change the colour and look of their footwear to suit numerous different outfits,” says Mark.

The idea for this fashion add-on came to Mark on a trip to London last year when he was faced with an array of shoes, but only enough money for one.

“I wanted all 20 of the runners in the shop, in all their different colours,” he said. “That was the moment of inspiration when the idea of developing a customising pack that would allow you to change the colour and look of a single pair of runners in dozens of combinations.”

His company, Cu5tom Clothing (, expects to market the accessory pack for around €20.

“The whole idea behind this is to allow the consumer more flexibility when it comes to matching clothing to footwear,” says Mark.

His idea has already picked up an endorsement from another fashion-famous Kerryman, footballer-turned-style guru Paul Galvin. “This is a clever idea that took a lot of work to develop. It’s an idea that deserves to do very well.”

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