Melody Stout

Photography by
Annabella Mireles

Appreciation and humility were shown across the face of young artist Carla Padilla, as The City Magazine sat down with her to discuss her ever-growing business. Padilla, nicknamed Cee Dubbs, has found a creative outlet as unique as her designs. Padilla’s passion and love for shoes took her on a journey with a YouTube-taught hobby that would turn into much more.

In 2018, Padilla began custom painting her sneakers. Through trial, error, and a little bit of help
from the internet, she began getting the hang of working with different materials and mediums to
make remarkable designs on a unique canvas.

“Obviously, the first couple of shoes weren’t great, but that’s because I didn’t prepare them right. If you have a lousy foundation in a house, it’s not going to last, so it’s the same thing with the
shoes,” Padilla said, showing her custom Vans featuring notable El Paso landmarks like
Whataburger, Scenic Drive, and the Star of El Paso.

What started as a hobby blossomed into a business shortly after Padilla started mastering the
process. She began taking orders and helping people create their visions into something they can proudly wear.

“It’s something my clients get into. They’re like, ‘I kind of have an idea,’ and we go back and
forth. When they see it, they’re like, ‘Wow, this is on a shoe,’ so it does become very personal
for them,” Padilla said.

Family is Padilla’s constant and her number one support system, even helping with the process when a large order needed to be filled. Her parents and grandmother, being artists themselves, pushed her to embrace creativity growing up.

“They just always kept me creative,” Padilla said. “There wasn’t much time for TV. My grandma
always kept me doing watercolor painting or clay, just everything arts and crafts.”

Her family’s support was very evident as we walked into her home, where her mom, Jessica
Doblado, was doing her hair and makeup, as she does for all her daughter’s events.

“I’m just so proud of her. She’s my pride and joy and I’m her number one fan. She’s making a
huge impact on people,” Doblado said.

When asked about her daughter’s success, she reflected on the growth that she has been able to see over the years, from when she was younger just saving her money to buy her first Jordans to all she’s accomplished now. With tear-filled eyes, she recounted the times when the process wasn’t easy, always reminding her daughter she could do it.

As the business has grown, Padilla has customized shoes for several businesses and organizations throughout El Paso, most notably members associated with the El Paso Locomotive FC.

Over the years, she has built a recurring relationship with her clients.

“It’s been a great connection, great relationship. The guy I work with is very genuine, and when I
met everyone, they were just so surprised. It goes back to the result of it coming back looking
cool and really nice,” Padilla said.

One of her goals for the future is to customize shoes for all the major mascots in El Paso. With
Ozzy, the mascot for the Locomotive, already on her client list, she hopes to one day design
shoes for Paydirt Pete from UTEP and Chico the Chihuahua.

“Ozzy really wears the shoes all the time, everywhere. I’m gonna have to make him a second
pair, I didn’t think he was going to be wearing them so much,” Padilla said.

She hopes to continue collaborating with others in the future, making an influence in the
community. This impact ignited last summer when the El Paso Museum of History reached out to collaborate with Padilla to host a “Kicks Camp,” where kids were able to learn the process of
designing their own shoes and having them displayed in the museum.

Padilla told the kids to “Feel free to do whatever you want. No one is judging you here. Feel
proud about it, feel confident about it” when guiding them through the process. It’s unbelievable, or shocking, because I just taught them how to paint, but families come up to me and tell me I made an impact on them. They really do feel sentimental about it,” Padilla said.

“It brings you back to what your purpose is; you’re impacting people through a gift that you
have. It’s hard to believe, but I feel very grateful.”