A junior is stepping his way into entrepreneurship by recreating his own shoe business.
TJ Ademola, a junior business management major from Katy, started thinking about becoming an entrepreneur in elementary school, when his mom sarcastically told him to get a job.
“I was a sweet tooth, and my mom used to buy us candy, and she finally got tired of it. She said, ‘I’m not buying it anymore. If you want it, you can get a job,’” Ademola said. “And so one day in school, I was reading a comic book and I wanted to keep it. I had an idea. Why not make my own comic books, and sell them to kids for cheap? So I started making comic books, and sold them for 50 cents and it just took off in my whole school.”
In junior high, Ademola said he wanted to keep making money, but because the comic book phase had passed, he decided to shift his business to a new product.
“I was asking myself what else I could do to make money, and thought about how I liked candy, and how I did all of this for candy,” Ademola said. “So I started selling candy in middle school.”
His junior high candy business thrived because students were unable to get candy anywhere else in school, so Ademola said students had to resort to his candy to meet their needs.
Finally, in high school, Ademola’s shoe addiction arose when his friend convinced him to buy a new pair with his own hard-earned money.
“My mom would only buy us one pair of shoes for the whole entire year,” Ademola said. “I would use them for sports, church, everything. They started getting messed up and kids would make fun of me about my shoes being bad. And so my friend in high school got me into shoes and convinced me to buy new ones. I bought my first shoes from him, and I got so many compliments.”
Ademola said the compliments boosted his self-confidence, which spurred his desire to research, buy and study shoes. Thus became his new business to sell shoes.
Selling shoes was difficult and chaotic at first, Ademola said. He created a Facebook page to try to accommodate his fast-growing business, but it became dangerous. With his popularity growing locally, Ademola started up his own website featuring a clothing line and part of his shoe business.
When coming to ACU, Ademola said he took a break to focus on his studies. During his freshman year, he decided to direct his attention toward basketball. But at the start of his sophomore year, he started cleaning shoes for the basketball and football players, continuing his business in a new way.
“This year, in the summer, I started my second website. It took off and I made a lot of money off of that,” Ademola said. “Once my online store was a success, I wanted to broaden my sneaker skills and got into designing shoes. I ended up designing my own shoe, made 20 pairs and sold out that same week.”
In addition to designing and selling shoes, Ademola said he wants to photograph them, create a clothing line and eventually open up his own store, Sneakerkings, to compete with current sellers such as Footlocker and Finishline.
“People who are doing it are old people who don’t know the youth of today,” Ademola said. “My store, when I build it, is going to be based off of our era and bring in kids.”
Ademola said he plans to travel to Italy over the summer to work with designers and create another shoe that he is proud to sell. Because of demand, he plans to open his website again over Christmas break.