At the age of just 23, Cameron Robbie quite literally has the world at his feet.
Inspired after painting a pair of trainers for his friend’s birthday, the Aberdeen-born entrepreneur has launched his own designer trainer brand Criatura, with sales now spanning across five continents.
With so much success in such a short space of time, nobody would begrudge Cameron for revelling in it a little.
But rather than resting on his laurels, Cameron is using his creativity as a power for good by designing special trainers for children with life-limiting conditions who are supported by the Aberdeen children’s charity Charlie House.
Thanks to the financial backing of several local businesses – Easthaven Property Management, Temple Clinic, Safetynet Scotland and Anderson Bain – Cameron is going to make over 30 pairs of bespoke trainers for the children.
“Having seen the reaction from customers when they get their shoes and how special it can make them feel, I just thought it would be an awesome idea to do something to help disadvantaged children,” said Cameron.
Seeing the design requests from the children was a special moment for Cameron, who will work round the clock over the next few months to finish them before handing them over.
“I’ve got a list of what designs the children would like so there’s some really cute requests like ‘can you make my trainers like Captain America’,” said Cameron.
“One of my favourite requests was from a child who sent me a picture of their favourite T-shirt which they never take off, so they asked me to make trainers to match their T-shirt which was so cute.
“I’m so excited to see the reaction when I hand over the trainers to the children.”
Up and running
Graduating from Herriot Watt University with a Masters degree in international business, Cameron went on to work in property management before stumbling on the idea for his trainer business.
“It was one of my friend’s birthdays and I got him a pair of shoes and, it sounded weird at the time, but I thought I would paint on the shoes to try and make them more exciting,” said Cameron.
“As my friend is half Brazilian I used spray paint to create a Brazil theme.
“In hindsight that’s not the kind of paint I would use now, but when I first made them it wasn’t my intention of it being more than just a one-off gift for someone.
“But it was such good fun that I wanted to make more trainers.”
With stellar support from his family, especially his parents Duncan and Angela, sister Lauren and grandma Helen Brown, Cameron took a big leap of faith in July last year by moving to Edinburgh and launching his business.
One of Cameron’s first orders – a pair of Formula 1 themed trainers – went viral.
“I had an order for a design based on an F1 driver’s helmet,” said Cameron.
“I posted a video of the trainers on TikTok and it got about 80,000 views, so I got a tonne of orders off the back of that.
“I’m now at a point where a large majority of my customers are from the F1 space which is something which I’d never planned beforehand.”
F1’s Daniel Ricciardo
Interest in Cameron’s F1 themed trainers is so high that some of the biggest names in the sport have Criatura trainers.
“Recently I reached out to a lot of agents and publicists for various professional F1 drivers asking if they would give me their shoe size and address so I could send them trainers,” said Cameron.
“So I’ve just sent a pair out to the agent of Daniel Ricciardo who is currently competing in F1 for McLaren.
“I was also chatting to the agent of Valtteri Bottas, an F1 driver for Alpha Romeo, so I’m going to send him trainers as well.”
Inspired by grandma
One of Cameron’s biggest fans though is his grandma Helen Brown.
“I remember going round to my grandma’s after school and we would paint together,” said Cameron.
“She’s an artist herself so she taught me a lot of the art I know today.
“She’s always messaging me on WhatsApp, asking me for pictures of my latest designs.”
Trainers might make up most of Cameron’s business at the moment but he has big plans for the future.
“The goal isn’t just to be in trainers, it’s to be a brand that’s somewhere in between fashion, art and pop culture,” said Cameron.
Later this year Cameron is set to attend a huge celebrity/influencer event in London and is also working on a high-tech digital trainer project.
“The event in London is a really exciting opportunity as I’ll be setting up a station and doing some live painting which is something I’ve never done before,” said Cameron.
And for more information about Charlie House, check out their website.