Ladies, do you still get surprised when you see another female rockin’ those Stussy Dunks? Dudes, are you still shocked when a woman walks by with the Rayguns you’ve been sweating for months? Well, those days are gonna be getting mighty regular, real quick. Females are blowing up the sneaker world right now! Don’t believe it? Check this out…we got females not just hunting, not just collecting, but representing all aspects of the sneaker game. This article highlights just a few of the women who are holding it down for the ladies all over the world. Nike, look out for Pointer and Rose Choules. Alife, don’t sleep on Rosemary Frazier of GoliathRF. Sabotage, respect KGiovanna and her hungry-hungry customs. And Sneaker Freaker, keep an eye out for that crazy lady kickin’ it up on her website...
What does KGiovanna stand for?
Katherine is my first name and Giovanna is my middle. When I was younger my parents always called me Katherine Giovanna so I kinda just ran with it. It had a nice ring to it.
When did you do your first custom? How old were you?
I was 19 and in my junior year of college. It was Valentine’s Day. I returned sneakers I had gotten for my ex because he broke up with me and I got myself a pair instead. I decided to cheer myself up by making shoes. Weird, I know. It was a pair of white-on-white Air Force Ones. It was a lot of fun although I had no idea what I was doing, and I got paint all over my apartment. I was scared that I would be in big trouble with my landlord because there was pink paint all over the wall and the floor in my kitchen. Basically, I put on a bunch of my favorite CDs and painted for hours until it looked cool (and till I almost passed out from the fumes). I called them the Bubblegum Joints. They were 3 colours of pink with splatters all over. At the time I thought the shoes were amazing and I thought I was the shit but now I look at them and, compared to my work now, they were so sloppy.
So what got you hooked?
While researching pointers on how to do custom kicks I came across all the sites put up by sneaker heads with their collections and I was immediately hooked. I didn’t know how serious and passionate some people were about collecting shoes. I almost felt deprived. It was crazy! I remember seeing designs by Methamphibian and Emmanuel Labor and being so blown away by the craftsmanship and the artwork, but then thinking to myself, ‘Where are the females in this game?’
What is your favourite custom job so far?
Honestly, I don’t have a favourite. But the ones that made people really stop and notice me are my Slimer Joints. Something about those crazy green shoes made people go, ‘Oh shit!’
What are your recommendations for the amateur who wants to paint sneaks?
Be prepared to spend a lot of time doing it and be prepared to drink a lot of Red Bull. People who don’t do kicks tend to think it’s a hell of a lot easier than it looks. Customizing is not for people who are impatient. It takes skill as well as patience. I spend about 9 hours on each pair of kicks I do because I handpaint them for the most accuracy. Also, there is a lot of trial and error. Trust me, I have a whole mound of beater kicks I like to experiment on. I taught myself EVERYTHING through experimentation.
Have you run into any sexism being a female in the sneaker world?
Like in any other industry, men don’t take women too seriously when it comes to business. People still have that 1950s mentality that a woman should sit there and try to look pretty. Eff that, I am college educated and I’m not going to just sit there and let my talents go to waste. Apparently a woman with her own business is still crazy, even in 2005. It’s sad.
I get a lot of hesitation when I do business with people, like guys need me to reassure them 400 times that their kicks will come out nice. And when they see them sometimes I want to be like, ‘See, I told you asshole.’ But that’s not really good for business. It’s the Jersey in me, what can I say…
How do guys look at you being a sneaker customizer? Are they surprised?
When I first started customizing till this day, I put my work up on my myspace page. I get like 100 messages a day from guys who can’t believe I do sneakers… There is even apparently an entire thread about me on NikeTalk that I never saw. The internet is that crazy! I also get guys who come up to me on the street and ask me where I get my kicks done, and when I tell them I did them they give me a puzzled look, like they expected me to tell them my boyfriend did them or something.
How much do they cost? Can folks order from all over?
Most of my kicks tend to be in the $100-200 price range. I have a Paypal account and I take money orders and cash as well. Hopefully I will have a website up soon. Meanwhile, they can reach me at kgiovannacustom[email protected]