Ruben Barraza, or as he is better known online, Majorwavez, is a leading custom shoe designer famous on Instagram, and a prime example of how a side hustle can grow to support you full time. His shoes have been worn by ASAP Rocky, Playboi Carti, and Kylie Jenner.
Ruben started his business four years ago out of his apartment as a one man show. But in reality, he was involved in the shoe industry before that; in college, he worked in retail, learning the ins and outs of the apparel industry from the ground floor. About a year before he started his own business, he was painting his own shoes that he wore to work. Customers quickly began asking him if they were sold in his store, and he started to take custom orders. Before he knew it, what was once a side hustle took off.
“I started to realize that I was making more money with the customs than I was at my full-time salary job. As custom orders picked up, one day I received an Instagram message from one of Kanye West boot designers and he gave me a big project for Reebok and Midnight Rave,” Ruben recalls.
After that, Ruben’s business skyrocketed. He now offers anything from sneakers, graphic t-shirts, and cut and sew items. He recently opened a custom sneaker workshop where customers can come in and customize any shoe they desire. The workshop supports anything from painting to sewing on industrial machines, and also facilitates networking opportunities for anyone starting up in the industry. Supporting a community to motivate other new creatives is central to Ruben’s work in the custom footwear industry.
“Ever since I can remember, I always cared about my shoes and always tried to stay on trend. The people who helped me in the beginning with giving me projects and opportunities were a big part of it. I always felt as if they believed in me which motivated me and that’s why I have started classes to help younger individuals that may need the extra help or just to be acknowledged as an artist,” Ruben outlines.
In his valiant efforts to always support his business and fellow creatives, Ruben admits that balance between work and life can be difficult to manage. In the two years of first getting his business off the ground, Ruben reports he barely saw his friends at all, citing the fact that he was too focused on growing his business and doing all he could on his own.
“From my HR experience, I knew that I should hire a team, but I did not know if the business was a trend or if it would last longer than a couple years. I valued my discipline because there is always going to be someone that is going to be working harder if you goof off. Starting a business and being profitable means you need all the operational pieces at 100% to be legitimate,” Ruben says.
Now, Ruben has a staff of nine to support his business. Even with a larger business, he still keeps his mindset to the same one that brought him his initial success. He always keeps in mind that he will need to sacrifice a lot and never give up – while acknowledging that this is easier said than done.
“At the beginning, my struggle was when I would ask friends or coworkers for what they thought of my designers, and a lot of them would return with negative feedback. Sometimes they would ask why I was doing custom shoes when the market for them was already so crowded. However, I believe that people not believing in my designs changed my mindset and made me truly believe that I was different and that I had something worthwhile going,” Ruben says.
Perhaps the most exciting new component of Ruben’s empire is the Majorwavezlab. With a new location set to open in a Las Vegas casino, the lab offers customers the opportunity to learn how to paint and sew their own custom designs and apparel. This is a big differentiating factor setting them apart from the competition that does not take the time to share industry knowledge, tips and tricks. Although the travel between Los Angeles and Las Vegas will be a new challenge in the coming year, Ruben is excited for all that it will bring.