Edwards says Pensole teaches both the hard skills of footwear design and also the soft skills of working together as a dependable professional. 

Knowing about more than drawing helps you create product. Early on at New Balance, Lee designed a low-cost kids’ running shoe. It wasn’t a high-profile project, but taught her about the process and making decisions, leading to projects like the popular 327. 

The biggest thing Sabino had to learn was working with a team. When you’re in high school and put in a group project, learn from the group’s different backgrounds and skill sets to work toward one goal.

“It is a life skill you should work through,” she says. “It is the corporate environment that is the day to day. Work and grow from each other.” 

Grondin says presentation skills matter.

“You need to tell me I drew this shoe like this because of this and it goes together like this and costs this much to make it,” he explains.

The secret the sneaker designers don’t want to tell the hopefuls in fear of scaring them away: their days are 90 percent meetings. Sneaker design is about details, precision, and communication, all mixed in with a bit of creativity. 

Most of all, believe.

“I can’t emphasize enough having a vision and a passion and continuing to stick with that,” Restivo says. “Knowing the right people, getting involved in the right education and internships, accepting positions that are a means to an end, being open-minded, as long as you are within the industry and vocal about what you want to do in your career, you will get there.”