Shoe-in Business

Posted in Identity

Like many high schoolers, Albany students participate in many different sports and clubs. Unlike many high schoolers, some Albany students stand out by participating in various jobs and hobbies outside of school. A perfect example is sophomore Michael Javier.

Michael Javier works on his latest project.

Sophomore Michael Javier works on his latest project.

Javier plays sports and is currently on the men’s JV Basketball team. However, he is also an independent owner and creator of his personal shoe customizing business, Have Air Customs.

Javier said his passion for designing custom shoes came from his early childhood: “In elementary school I used to help out my dad when he built model tanks and planes, so I used to paint from that and already had painting experience from that as well.”

One of Javier's custom shoes.

One of Javier’s custom shoes. (Image courtesy of Michael Javier.)

Initially, Javier would provide his own shoes and supplies. But over time, people started to reach out to him to customize their own shoes. Although his brand has received a lot of recognition at school, the majority of his orders come from various people across the nation.

“This started out as a hobby for about a month or so after I first started in eighth grade. Then more and more people around the school started contacting me to get work done, so I turned it into a full-on business pretty quickly. I guess you could say it’s a bit of both [a hobby and a business.] A hobby is something that you do for fun. This is something that I do to make money, but I have fun at the same time,” he said.

A pair of Javier's customs.

A pair of Javier’s customs. (Image courtesy of Michael Javier.)

Javier is sponsored by a leather paint company, Turtle Feathers, and gets his supplies for free. On average, Javier charges $170 – $250 for each customization job. Since his costs are low, his profits can be quite high.

The shoe community is like its own society with desired favorites and popular picks.

“My ‘community’ […] mainly consumes things that are really hyped up. Shoes with a lot of buzz or that are really popular. All of my potential customers seem to stick with Nikes and Jordans. They’re super hyped up, so they get them to be cool,” Javier said.

“Due to that hype, Nike and Jordan have been the only brands I’ve worked with. Even a year and a half after I started customizing I still haven’t done any customs on any other brands. Even though I’d love to try working with brands like Adidas, Reebok, Converse, they just aren’t as hyped up so for now it looks like I’ll be sticking with Nikes and Jordans since that’s all people send me,” he continued.

Javier works mainly with Nike shoes.

Javier works mainly with Nike shoes. (Image courtesy of Michael Javier.)

Michael Javier’s style has been influenced by other customizers, but he only takes inspiration from the overall aspects of others’ designs. He considers certain qualities which he interpret in his own way. Over the years, Javier has noticed that his designs have influenced others. He continues to build a strong fanbase on social media. He currently has more than 8,000 followers on Instagram and a website dedicated to his passion.
Check out his work at:
Instagram: @haveaircustoms