“I hadn’t had any time to prepare outfits for us but I wanted my 4-year-old son Justus to look really cool,” she said. After that, she began hand-beading the shoes to make them look like conventional moccasins. she continued, “People were stopping us to take photos, he made such a splash.”
Along with the shoes did not only wow other people they gave Charlene’s son a opportunity to “express his tribal identity” and partake in the typical child antics (like jogging), and he was pleased to show them off. “It wasn’t entirely traditional but a modern adaptation in helping him expressing his culture,” she tells Teen Vogue.
Following the photos from the festival were posted on social media, Charlene began getting contacted by people wanting her to create them sneakers as well, and that’s when it removed. On her website, Charlene shows examples of already-completed custom orders, each with their own special spin, alongside stunning hand beaded jewelry that’s also available for purchase.
Her current pieces stem from Charlene’s authentic work as a Native artist producing dolls and figures with a historical background, in which she utilized traditional Lakota beadwork.
“I feel that I am continuing the process while establishing a Native unique aesthetic, as well as communicating Native survival and commitment to showing that,” she says. “In this case, I expressed it in beading a pair of slip-ons.”
There is a historical tradition design that I used specifically for the Vans based off Lakota moccasins.”