Ryan Roman is the 19-year-old entrepreneur and CEO of 101 Custom Kicks. Roman has been creating some of the most stellar and eye-catching sneakers for the past year that have been featured in the best sneaker blogs and have been worn by popular sneakerheads just like him.
The Chicago native says the idea of customizing sneakers began when the prices to get his own pair customized were way too high and the wait too long. This inspired the young boss to delve into the world of customs and add his creativity to the canvas of some of the best sneakers out there.
We chopped it up with the young Ryan Roman to get his thoughts on the current state of custom sneakers and his recent projects, and to find out a little more about his business.
What made you want to start customizing sneakers?
Last summer I wanted to get some Jordan 4′s customized. I contacted a few artists, and the best quote I got was $400 and a 6-8 month wait. I wasn’t willing to pay that much money and wait that long… That’s how the idea of 101 Custom kicks was born.
What was the first sneaker you customized, and at what age?
Those same Jordan 4′s. I ended up giving a Gucci-inspired theme. I was 18 at the time. It took me a while to get it done because I wanted to research the best method to customize sneakers, so I wouldn’t risk ruining a fresh pair of sneakers. But when I finally finished and wore them, people went crazy! I got lots of compliments, and I had tons of people in the streets asking to take pics of them. They eventually went viral on the internet.
How long does it usually take you to make a sneaker?
Now that we have it down to a science, we can usually get them done in 7-14 days depending on what the customer wants.
What pair of sneakers has taken you the longest to customize?
We did some “Tattoo” foamposites that took three weeks to finish. There were a lot of intricate details that our artist wanted to incorporate in the shoe.
A lot of customizers are known for a signature style or material they use. What do you think you’re most known for in the world of sneaker customizers?
We like to take inspiration from some of the exclusive classics. The shoes that OG sneaker heads go crazy for. So we may take a rare exclusive kick like the Bin series Jordan 7 and recreate a different sneaker with that theme.
What’s the price range for your work?
We’re flexible. We like to keep the price under $300. Of course quality is our No. 1 priority, but we try not to break our customers’ pockets in the process.
Favorite shoe of all time?
Olive Jordan 5′s&emdash;no contest.
Out of all the sneakers you’ve customized, which one has been your favorite?
We have some OVO inspired Jordan 6′s we just finished. Best looking custom I’ve seen, and I think they’re going to top the Jordan Brand OVO releases. I plan on releasing them later this month and hand delivering them to Drake.
What shoe was the first to get you recognized in the sneaker community?
The Rugrat 5′s we did using the colorway from the ’95 NBA all-star game jersey. Things really started picking up when I posted the pictures to our Instagram account. They got a lot of attention from the blogs and sneakerheads.
Are you working on any sneakers at the time for a major celebrity?
We’re working on some kicks that are going to change the custom game! I’m going to send them to DJ Khaled. I also have something in the works for Wale.
Corporation you would love to collab with for a major sneaker?
I’d be happy to work with any of the big shoe companies like Nike, Adidas, Converse, but I like what Li Ning and Under Armour are doing as well.
Sneaker you hate working on?
Can’t really say I hate working on a certain sneaker, but we did get a guy who wanted to turn some white chucks into spiked “red bottoms.” [Laughs]
Since we are XXL, give me three of your favorite rappers of all time?
Kanye, Meek Mill and Pac, but I listen to a little bit of everything honestly.