Brett Robinson, a student at Schreiber High School started his own business three years ago selling sneakers through his Instagram account @kicks.ny. Although only a sophomore in high school, Robinson’s passion for sneakers has transformed into a growing business over the last several years. As a young entrepreneur, Robinson hopes to inspire others his age to chase their dreams and work hard for something they are passionate about.
Q. What made you want to start your own business?
A: I think I may have been nine or 10 when I first discovered the concept of making money. I found simple ways to earn extra cash with friends or my younger sister—be it a make-shift summer lemonade stand, offering to do house chores—whatever it was, I loved the hustle. Seeing the funds add up in my drawer was exciting. When I turned 12, I saw the craze over sneakers. I was surprised both at the demand in the market and the prices being paid.
Q. How did you come up with the idea to purchase new and used sneakers?
A: I’ve always respected Michael Jordan and his accomplishments. He’s the icon. Air Jordan and Nike have paved their way in the sneaker game. I became especially interested with the Jordan 1s, which are an extremely popular sneaker—especially these days. I got my hands on multiple pairs of this sought-after shoe. I paid the retail price for each pair and within very little time, I turned a profit by selling them.
Q. Where do you get your inventory from?
A: Multiple sources, some of which include Instagram sellers, tradeshows, locals and people from around the country. I have learned over the years to be really careful when buying. I look over each pair to ensure authenticity, and that they are not a replica or copy. If I have even the slightest concern, I pass. Several times over the years I have come across fakes and often times even my trained eye has a hard time knowing. I do a lot of online research to pick up skills and have taught myself how to authenticate sneakers, so I don’t get scammed. It benefits me and my customers who have come to know I am someone they can trust.
Q. How do people purchase your sneakers?
A: Most of my sales are through my Instagram (@kicks.ny) account. If I cannot sell a pair that route, I will attend trade shows in the city or here on Long Island. I have built solid relationships with other sellers locally and throughout the country. Other sources for my sales have been the Port Washington community, Ebay or the GOAT app—a sneaker and apparel site for sales and marketing. Other times, people direct message (DM) me on Instagram where we negotiate.
Q. How do you balance your business with schoolwork?
A: School has always come first and remains my number one priority. But when my studying is done, I move onto my sneaker business and try to find deals whether I’m buying or selling. My room is filled with boxes I self pack, weigh and print proper postage labels to ship to buyers nationwide.
Q. What is your favorite part of the job?
A: For me, it’s the hunt for desirable inventory, finding an old pair that is in excellent condition to land on the feet of a happy customer. This hobby has taught me the importance of a clean reputation and excellent credibility. With those two factors, you’re bound to increase your profit margins.
Q. What’s the rarest pair you’ve sold?
A: That would have to be a tie between two pairs. First, the Off-White X Jordan 1 Chicago released in 2017 at a very limited offering. I was able to get my hands on a lightly worn pair. I listed them on my Instagram page and they sold in rather quickly.
Another extremely rare pair I acquired and sold were the Air Yeezy 2 Solar Reds, released in 2012. This model continues to go up in price because of its rarity. These sold fast for me as well, because of the fame Kanye West and his sneakers hold.
Q. What advice would you give today to peers your age who might want to start a business?
A: I would say that before you start anything, create a vision for yourself. Stick to that vision while at the same time be flexible and make adjustments along the way. You need to be very organized. Keep spreadsheets of everything basic and important like customers names, contact info, items purchased, sales numbers and any other details that will help grow your business. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people in the business and ask questions. I’ve found this to be the best way to learn. I’m just getting started. Most importantly, always be honest.
Q. Any goals for the future?
A: I want to continue growing my sales as I have done each year so far, and it would be nice to meet one of the celebrities who endorse the sneakers I sell.