GETTING caught in an unexpected downpour while wearing a shiny new pair of shoes can be one of life’s great frustrations.

A deluge can wreck the look of your trainers in minutes and leave them never quite looking the same again.

It’s a first world problem but one for which Gareth Tansey has the solution.

The footwear fanatic has created a workshop in the Barnhall area of Colchester where he can restore trainers back to as good as brand new.

He can also offer bespoke, interesting and unique designs for people who want their kicks to stand out.

Under the name Dr G’s Sneaker Laundry, he has social media followers from all over the world and has received inquiries for work from at home and as far away as Turkey and the US.


Gareth said the redesigning and cleaning started out as him doing favours for people he knew.

He said: “For a long time I have been customising and restoring trainers for myself and for my friends and family.

“But it is only recently I have been really seriously looking at whether I can turn it into a business.

“I started doing posts on social media to show what sort of things I have been doing.

“I suffer from mental health issues and having a project like this is really helping me have something to focus on.

“There are other people doing customisation, but I genuinely think I am the only person in the area doing restoration.

“Something which irritates people a lot is spending £80 or upwards on a pair of trainers and then after one night out or one walk they are scuffed.

“Then sometimes they don’t come out of the wash right and canvas shoes can end up yellow.

“There is also an environmental issue where if people don’t like how their trainers look after a few months they will just throw them away.

“I can help a bit with that and keep them looking fresh and lasting longer.”


Gareth has already received celebrity endorsements for his designs from Robbie Williams and wife Ayda, as well as Leigh Francis who portrays comedy character Keith Lemon on television.

He presented the star with a customised skateboard and is preparing specialist trainers for guests on his hit panel show Celebrity Juice.

Creating a pair of eye-catching trainers is a labour of love for the 39-year-old.

He said: “I use acrylic paint which is either applied by hand or I also have an airbrush.

“I also design stencils to use which can allow me to create patterns.

“I always have a consultation with people who are interested and then use my imagination.

“There are limits to what can be done so I try not to over promise.

“They key is to do research and preparation.

“Customising can taken a couple of days and a similar amount of time for restoration.

“Sometimes I will buy a pair of trainers from eBay or a charity shop to practise on them and see if my ideas are realistic.”


Businesses in Colchester including AK Insurance in Newcomen Way, Couzins Barbers in Mersea Road and Pump Gym in Grange Way have all set up pickup and drop off points where Gareth can exchange shoes.

He has also helped out his daughter Gabriella, six, and her classmates by waterproofing their school plimsolls for free.

“She is a big inspiration for me to make a success of this,” he said.

“And she really likes getting involved and doing it too.”

For more information search for Dr G’s Sneaker Laundry on Facebook and Instagram.