BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “I was never a sneaker head. I never took care of my sneaker. And now, I’m a really big sneaker head, I have a closet full of sneakers now, boxes and all," 16-year-old Buffalo artist Emeka Wajed said.
But he is more than just a sneaker head. He is a custom sneaker designer.
Turning vans like these into works of art these.
“The opportunity popped up so I took it,” Emeka said.
Emeka has been customizing shoes for more than two years.
"It was always intended to be a business," he said. "My parents would hook me up with their friends and I would get orders through them and they would support me.”
And now, he’s getting support from NFL players.
“I’ve done Shaq Lawson and I have two more players in the works,” he said.
Emeka does all kinds of designs, and he draws on inspiration from his everyday life.
These shoes were inspired by anime series, One Piece.
“As I finished a saga or an arc, I decided like, this scene would look crazy on a sneaker," Emeka explained. "So I took a picture of it on my iPad and I ended up painting it on a pair of Air Force 1s."
Detailed shoes like the anime inspired sneaker can cost a customer $200 to $300, but a simple logo or color change will only cost you $30 to $80.
“And that’s how you flip $100 into $300,” he said.
Over the summer, Emeka was customizing 5 to 6 pairs of sneakers a month and he said no customer was left unsatisfied.
“They’re very surprised. I usually am thanked with a paragraph and a half,” he said.
And every year, his mom says he just keeps getting better and better.
“We just sit there with our mouths open saying, 'Jeez! How’d you do this?' He can make things look like actually stickers on a sneaker. He can make things look like they’ve been hand stitched on a sneaker," she said.
Emeka hopes to expand his network of clients from athletes to musical artists, but for now he’s just seeing where this journey takes him. If you are interested in getting a pair of sneakers customized, you can reach out to Emeka via Instagram.