Nowadays, it’s not really the timeframe of the person involved that counts when one determines the definition of success, it’s the drive, the passion that leads him to his ambition. When we encounter somebody who is much younger and as (maybe even more) passionate about the things we love (especially sneakers, sneakentrepreneurs if you will) we are far more than impressed, we are thrilled and that’s what propelled us to interview Czar and Lei of Kicks Manila, a partnership that benefits those who’s obsessions go beyond the actual footwear themselves. From Rastaclats to other accessories that will work well with any shoe colorway in your rotation, and yes, they have hard to find sneakers as well. Read on and get to know more about them...
Who got into shoes first? Who’s more of a sneakerhead?
Czar: I got into shoes first. My uncle was the one who influenced me. He just got back from Singapore wearing his new Jordans and I was in awe on how it looked. He told me all about the sneakers and how the game works - the rest was history! I wanted my own pair of Js but I was more into Lebron’s at that time. I remember when my ninong used to send me shoes from the States, he would send a pair of Lebron’s from time to time. I really didn’t care much what he sent, I just loved that I had shoes to rock at school and use it carelessly! Now, I’m more conscious about my shoes and I take better care of them. Gone were the days when I could care less if I used my Lebron’s as my hiking shoes which I did, more than once in fact.
Czar: I influenced Lei. At first, she didn’t want to be part of it because she was more into casual shoes (or I don’t know what girls call it!) Haha! I tried to convince her but she really wouldn’t budge so I tried another approach. I gave her a gift for her birthday, her first Jordan’s and she loved it! After that I tried to “follow up” my plan by telling her all about shoes non-stop! Eventually she understood where I was coming from and that’s what started it for her. I added her to the different Facebook groups and websites. Now we both check them daily!
Lei: In my opinion, we’re both on the same level. I don’t believe that one is a bigger sneakerhead than the other because at the end of the day, we both share our passion for sneakers and that is what’s important for us. Talking about new releases and what not is really fun for us to share with one another.
How did Kicks Manila come about?
Czar: The idea of starting Kicks Manila just came to me one day. I was already reselling some shoes by the pair because I had to keep up with the expenses for my sneakers. I had to pay for my pairs cause I wouldn’t want to trouble my parents to fund my hobby. Shoes are still only a want and if we want something, we should get it ourselves. At the time, I think it was still difficult to get your hands on a pair only exclusive to the other side of the world. I wanted to bring in more products and not rely on other resellers because their price was more than I could afford. Starting out was really difficult because I had to find out how things work and stuff like that, but I got the hang of it eventually. I know that there's a lot of resellers in the game but I wanted to make my own mark in the community. My own brand that could help others get what they want at a reasonable price!
You must have a lot of comments entering the shoe game at a young age. How has it changed your world?
Czar: I think that it has really changed my perspective about shoes and the passion that I share for it. I was 16 when I started Kicks Manila and I was a little bit overwhelmed. It took a year for me to learned most of the things about the sneaker game. I have met with a lot of different collectors and resellers who share the same passion as mine. I’ve made friends through my transactions. For me this is the best part, to actually meet good people and just talk about your passion for sneakers. Lifestyle wise, what changed is the amount of sneakers I have at one time! But I am one of those who believe that quality is better than quantity! Probably the best thing about having Kicks Manila as a business is probably getting shoes that I like for SRP!
How do you manage Kicks Manila? How does it feel like working together?
We both share in our responsibilities as owners of the business. Lei would be more on the advertising side because she is good in interacting with others and promoting Kicks Manila as a business. I’m handle other things like meet-ups with customers. A business can be many things but one of the best perks of having one is to have someone to share it with! For me it is better to have someone with the same goals and interests because it just make things easier. Managing the business becomes more efficient. We rarely have conflicts in terms of work because as a couple we know what one another thinks!
Any holy grail shoe that both of you are looking for the longest time?
Lei: Doernbecher 4’s , we rarely agree on what pair of shoes we like but the shoes that we agreed on was the DB4’s. It's amazing to see such attention to detail in a pair of shoes. Also after reading its history, we both decided that it is a must cop for us!
Name your top 5 shoes.
Any Shoephoric Moments you'd want to share with us?
Lei: I remember when I had 3 pairs of Jordan 1 “Royals” and Czar was alarmed. He wanted me to sell a pair or two because he said it wasn’t “practical”! Haha! I guess it was a rare opportunity for me to have them all at the same time and I had to cherish it! Eventually I sold 2 and just kept a personal pair.
What are the biggest issues for running your business?
The supply of shoes. More and more resellers are opening up business, which means less supply for others. Another is the pricing, as sneakerheads, we want our items to be as reasonably priced for our customers.
What is your ultimate goal for Kicks Manila?
Our ultimate goal for Kicks Manila is to be strong business that will live on forever. It is very hard to keep up with the sneaker scene as more and more sneakerheads join. We want Kicks Manila to be able to provide quality service and establish guaranteed satisfaction for our customers. Also, we want to provide more info on shoes and preserve the culture. It is very important for us to help others out in getting in this passion.
Can you share some tips to young sneaker heads who want to enter into resell?
Some things I have learned
I believe that if ever you want to get into reselling, you need to be passionate about shoes. It is your source of motivation because you understand and want to help fellow sneakerheads to get the pairs they want.
No one wants to buy at unbelievable prices.
Once you take it to the level of business, you need to learn a few things about running one. You should be able to manage everything and be able to run things smoothly.
Respect is earned not given
Learn to respect others. It would help you and your business to acquire loyal friends & customers.