Back in 2005 a young boy named Michael J was in first grade. Up until then he had always worn velcro Reebok shoes. At the time he really want a pair of all black Vans skate shoes, but he didn’t know how to tie his shoes yet! So his parents promised him that if he could learn how to tie his shoes, he could get the pair of Vans he wanted. Michael studied his dad tie his work boots long and hard almost everyday, but he still couldn’t figure out how to tie a pair of shoes. He decided to ask his parents to help him. They let him practice on some of their old shoes. Eventually after much trial and error, he figured it out! Michael showed his parents his new found trick and eventually they bought him the pair of black on black Vans that he wanted. Soon afterwards, his dad gave him a pair of 2002 Air Jordan Olive 9s that his co-worker had given him since they didn’t fit his son anymore. These were Michael’s first pair of Jordans. At the time all he knew about Michael Jordan was that he was a great basketball player and was in his favorite book, Salt in His Shoes. He decided to treasure his other new pair of ”tie shoes.” Due to the color of his Olive 9s he thought they looked a lot like his fathers work boots. They were made similar too. He decided to call them his work boots too so he could be, “Just like daddy.” Little did he know it, but this would eventually become the story of how he became a sneakerhead in first grade.
Eight years later Michael J is now an in-coming high school freshman and an avid sneakerhead. His previous love for one pair of shoes eventually turned into a way of life for him. But
Michael isn’t your average teenage sneakerhead. His collection may not be the biggest. He doesn’t have 1 set outfit to go with every pair of shoes he has. If anything his collection is shrinking, not growing. You know why? Because he is the only professional 14 year old sneaker customizer in the whole San Francisco Bay Area. Ever since he got his Olive 9s and blacked out Vans in first grade shoes have always held a special place in his heart. His inner customizing skills were awakened in October 2012 when he decided to attempt to customize a pair of old Air Force 1s he had. He rounded up some red black and gold paint that he used to use to paint model tanks and airplanes, and began to turn is black and white Air Force 1s info a black and red masterpiece with golden accents. He brushed on the years that his hero, Michael Jordan, had won NBA Championships and dubbed his first customs the Six-Time Champ Air Force 1s. Two days later he wore his new prized shoes to school and was met with a surprise that shocked him: by the end of his first period class the paint on the midsole was already chipping off! By then end of the day the paint on the midsoles of both shoes was chipping off everywhere. His first attempt at making custom shoes had failed. If Michael had learned anything from learning how to tie his shoes when he was little, it was to never quit or give up, no matter how many times he failed. A few months later in the end of March 2013, he printed out a batman stencil and airbrushed Batman’s symbol all over his old pair of Jordan Super Flys. This time when he wore them to school they didn’t chip. He had used the same paint as before which was meant to be used on plastic so he figured that it didn’t chip because the hyperfuse upper on his shoes was made of synthetic materials, a.k.a. plastic. With his new found success, Michael decided to try to pursue customizing shoes as a hobby. He loved to sit in his basement, relax, and paint his shoes while listening to music so he figured, why not turn this into a hobby? Soon after that his best friend, who knew he loved shoes, asked him if he could help sell his Bordeaux Jordan Son of Mars. Michael agreed and started explaining his master plan to his friend. The shoes had only been worn a few times, but they were still pretty dirty. He decided to try to “restore” the shoes. He went home and did some research on how to clean shoes. Two hours later he was in his basement scrubbing away at his friends shoes. By the time he was finished, the Son of Mars looked as good as new. As news of his work spread around the school he found himself with four more restoration jobs and started charging people. Although he enjoyed restoring shoes, he missed painting. Michael ordered a pair of 2006 Air Jordan Military Blue 4s off of an eBay auction from a local reseller (Sole Supremacy) and ordered some paint from Angelus Shoe Polish. While he waited for his materials to arrive in the mail he did the proper research and learned how to correctly customize a shoe. A week later he was holding the Air Jordan Army Blue 4 in his hands, his first official custom with the correct type of paint. This marked the creation of Have Air Customs. To this day, four months later, Have Air Customs has grown into a successful start up business. Completing more than 10 customs in the last four months and graduating middle school with all A’s Michael plans on expanding his business. Through Instagram (@haveaircustoms), this new website, a start up clothing line, and numerous partnerships and collaborations, he plans on trying to spread the word about Have Air Customs and earning his spot as a Sneaker Customizing Demi-God. He knows that it will be years before he can even think about competing with the customizing greats such as Mache, El Cappy, and Kickasso. Instead he strives to become the best up-and-coming teenage customizer. Michael has only been customizing for four months, but as he looks back and reflects on it, he’s amazed how far he’s come. From starting off with an easy woodland camo custom, to a digital camo Memorial Day custom, to learning how to paint a galaxy pattern, to the work he just did on the Superhuman Lebron 9 Lows, Michael has learned something new with every custom he completes. He hopes that you pick Have Air Customs to fill your custom sneaker needs because he will make your old ugly sneakers take flight!