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By Naomi Marshall
Having an exclusive, personalised and unique sneakers that will make you stand out from everyone in the room and is the dream of many and in the mining town of Linden, Chris Thomas, also known as Stevon, is on top of the sneaker customizing business.
The 20-year-old has been customizing sneakers for the past four years and has made a name for himself under his brand ‘S.T. Customs,’ by modifying the exterior look of sneakers to suite the personal preferences of his clients.
Thomas grew up in Wismar, Linden with his mother, father and two younger siblings. He recalled having a lot of fun and engaging in a lot of outdoor activities such as cricket, football, fishing, swimming and riding his bicycle.
Thomas attended Watooka Day Primary and the New Silver City Secondary School where he dreamt of becoming a Civil Engineer.
Over the past four years, Thomas who is good at art came across a YouTube video of a sneaker customizer showcasing how his work is done. Thomas instantly fell in love with the art and day after day he would watch more videos related to sneakers customization.
“After a while, I felt like it was time I should try it so I got someone from overseas to send a starting kit for me with the special kind of paint required to for designing the sneakers. I did a few designs on my own sneakers and people use to think I does buy my sneakers like that,” Thomas told Village Voice GY.
From that moment the youth would receive requests made by persons for him to customize their kicks which subsequently led to the birth of his brand, ‘S.T. Customs’.
“So when people get to know that I designed my sneakers by myself they would want me to do their sneakers and then they would tell their friends and that is how the word got around that I am customizing sneakers,” the artist recalled.
Over the years, ‘S.T. Customs’ has grown significantly, going from a few customers and a small “starting kit” to having all the equipment and materials needed to design the kicks, topped by a large base of clients.
The young man said that he used the money gained from the first set of sneakers he customized to expand his business by purchasing every equipment and materials needed.
“The first year of my business I had a small amount of tools and customers. Presently, I have everything, all the tools, all the different colours of paint and a large amount of customers. As I expanded my business, I used my own money I got from previous work to upgrade my tools and expand,” Thomas stated.
Furthermore, ‘S.T. Customs’ also provides spray painting services for motorcycles and bikes, and will be custom designing clothing in the future.
Apart from customizing sneakers, Thomas does construction and finds juggling the two jobs challenging but he makes it work.
“Balancing work and my side hustle is challenging because sometimes when you get home from work you does be tired but I still have people stuff that I got to finish, sometime some of them want it in a hurry, but I does make it work though,” he expressed.
Another challenge faced by the young man is having to purchase his materials online which can be a costly process.
He also disclosed that some persons would not want to pay for the work he has done on their sneakers, while others might pay half of the total cost. Nevertheless, he uses the challenges as stepping stones.
Additionally, Thomas who recently obtained his Certificate in ‘Welding and Fabrication’ from the Linden Technical Institute, is also looking to commence his civil engineering studies at a university overseas.
Thomas who describes himself as self-motivating and easy going says that he is motivated by the thought of accomplishing his goals. He added, “I am never satisfied with where I am, I think about a better life and I honestly cannot settle for less, I got to get up and get things done.”
According to Thomas, youths thinking of starting a business should not be afraid to ask for help and “do not listen to negative people, just do what you have to.”