Everyone that’s into sneakers loves to keep their kicks clean right? Your sneakers must always look like you got them fresh out of the box, even if you got them months ago.
Akeem Anifowoshe and NuLife Kicks are ensuring that you never have to worry about your favorite sneakers getting dirty or ruined again.
NuLife Kicks is a sneaker restoration company based in Las Vegas, Nevada that performs not only sneaker restorations but also offers to customize your sneakers. They are essentially your “sneaker care doctors” as Anifowoshe describes it.
They also have their own line of innovative sneaker care products such as a crepe brush, nylon scrub, eraser sponge, sole brush, suede eraser and many other products. He jokes that “we are the sneaker doctors and we have a sneaker pharmacist.” I mean for some people, the condition of their sneakers is directly tied to their well-being. It’s like that for me.
But how did he get started in the sneaker business? What launched his idea to start NuLife Kicks?
Anifowoshe’s interest in sneakers sparked while he was in high school. His best friend in high school’s favorite pair of shoes was the Cool Grey Jordan fours and because it was his favorite sneaker, it also became Anifowoshe’s favorite. Unfortunately, Anifowoshe’s friend passed away when they were both 17-years-old, but his love for sneakers followed him to college.
Anifowoshe was a student-athlete at Southern Utah University studying to become a chemist with aspirations to go to the NFL. Up until his senior year, it seemed like his dream was going to come to fruition. He was on the NFL Draft Scout list and things were going well until he ruptured his appendix.
“I lost about 20 pounds and my physique, I call it my armor, was lost in eight days. It had me in a dark space and I didn’t continue to pursue my NFL dreams,” said Anifowoshe.
While at his mom’s house going through his sneaker collection, he wanted to post his favorite sneakers (Cool Grey Jordan 4s) to a Facebook group he was a part of. But they were so dirty that he had to clean the shoes, repaint the soles and give the shoes new life.
At that moment NuLife Kicks was born.
With the sneaker business being a worldwide, multi-billion dollar business that everyone from kids to grown adults wants to invest in, NuLife has seen a steady amount of business since they were officially founded in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2012.
“I was doing this way before it became a trend or a fad. And a lot of people have recognized the quality of our work way back when we first started,” said Anifowoshe.
In the company’s early years, they did not have money for advertising or marketing, so they had to rely on word of mouth. As a result, they have been able to not only grow their business but inspire others in their community.
This led to Anifowoshe also founding Soles for Souls, essentially the non-profit sister organization to NuLife Kicks.
Soles for Souls helps youth restore shoes and restore their lives by providing them with new sneakers, restoration training, personal development and character building, and entrepreneurship training to help them learn the trade of sneaker restoration, create a business out of it and find the financial freedom that systemically is not made for them to find.
“You can be an outcast for not having nice sneakers and bullied for not having nice clothing. Most parents in America can’t afford sneakers nowadays,” said Anifowoshe.
“We established Soles for Souls to give sneakers to the youth to help build their confidence, character and bridge the gaps for some parents that couldn’t afford nice shoes,” Anifowoshe continued.
Through this non-profit, they have helped over 500 kids get some of the freshest Jordans out right now, while also helping kids become entrepreneurs and start sneaker businesses and companies of their own.
“We’re teaching them the actual skills of cleaning and restoring sneakers, some kids have turned into little businesses or side hustles. They are making their own money, “ said Anifowoshe.
But, Anifowoshe also shared the character you have to have as a person to be successful in the sneaker industry. It is full of people that deal in bad faith, are selfish and willing to do anything it takes to get a dollar.
“If someone wants to get into just the sneaker industry, you got to have a lot of character because a lot of people sell and restore sneakers. But if that person isn’t trustworthy, or hasn’t developed the trust or good credibility with the community through word of mouth and reputation it’s not always positive,” said Anifowoshe.
But with his business model, he hopes to do business with the character and trust that is oftentimes lacking in the sneaker industry and hopes to continue his business and non-profit organization by restoring the world one sneaker at a time.