Zac Vine is no ordinary science teacher.
Vine started teaching at Journey Middle School in Sooke this year, after moving to the Island from Vancouver, and it didn’t take long for his students to find out who he is – one of the top ranked custom shoe designers in the country.
Vine, originally from the Toronto area, graduated university with an education and physics degree, but always found himself doodling in class. He then got a job working as an educator for Inner City Youth, and started an after-school program restoring kids sneakers to make sure they had good shoes to wear.
“I got really in to it, and would look up techniques online on cleaning up shoes. Kids in the neighbourhood would bring in really old shoes and say ‘do whatever you want to them’ so I just started doodling on them,” said Vine. “The kids would tell me, ‘You have to post this stuff on social media,’ so I did, and things kind of just exploded for me.”
Vine started getting tons of attention through Instagram, and decided to start his own business called Yeevy.
Shortly after, Nike caught word of his business and flew him out to their headquarters to meet with him and see the work he was doing. It’s been five years now and Vine has since designed shoes for multiple celebrities and professional athletes, including Drake, Logic, Cory Taylor, and Aroldis Chapman.
“Just last year Def Leppard came to Vancouver for a few weeks and hung out with me, and I made them shoes to wear on their latest world tour,” said Vine.
His business has taken him all over North America, including places like New York, Hawaii, and California.
“I was hired last year to come and do a mural in Sooke, and I heard they were looking for teachers. So that was it, my family and I moved here.”
He hasn’t given up the shoe business though, in fact, Nike just sent him a pair to design for a Humboldt Broncos player. He is also designing a pair of shoes to raffle off, helping fundraise for Journey students to go on a European trip next year.
“I always want it to be something I can fall back on and enjoy,” said Vine. “When I sit down and paint a pair of shoes, everything leaves. It’s my time to slow down, escape and just be totally focused on that. It’s very peaceful.”