ORLANDO, Fla. – Few of us manage to make it happen, so it’s logical how we may envy people who find ways to make good money from their passion.
How about, instead of envying them, you take some notes?
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This week on ‘Black Men Sundays,’ host Corie Murray interviews Juan Solano, owner of Legends Boutique near UCF, to find out when, how and why the Colombian-born sneakerhead was able to transform his passion for footwear into a brick-and-mortar business.
While driving dozens of hours at a time to attend sneaker events across the US, Solano said things started to become less successful for him and, conversely, for his family. He said he knew something had to be done in order to meet their bottom line and avoid having to choose between advancing the business or paying the bills.
“I’m recycling this money to keep moving my business bigger and, you know... buy more shoes,” Solano said. “These events became less and less every time. So, I went from 30 ($30,000) to 25 to 20, and I think one day I hit like 10 in Dallas.”
From Texas, Solano made the 30-hour drive to a show in Los Angeles where the tide began to turn, but not at all smoothly. After a bad start due to distractions at the venue, Solano had something to say to an employee of the event.
“I was like, ‘Hey, it’s not been good. You know, these people have these YouTubers playing basketball here, and when that happens it sucks the life out of this show,” Solano said. “We’re not making money and we’re not here for selling shoes, which is the purpose of this event.”
Unfortunately (or, fortunately, depending on how you look at it), Solano said the employee was wearing a hot mic, their conversation was overheard by the event’s “very prideful” owner and he was soon told he was no longer welcome.
“So, I took off home,” Solano said. “The whole ride, the whole ride I’m going home, I’m thinking to myself, ‘How am I going to, you know, figure this out? This was my business, this was my bread and butter. This event, this one event? How am I going to get out of this hole?’”
Now with $8,000 and 1,000 pairs of shoes still on hand, Solano said it was his mother who dove in at an opportune time with a $10,000 loan, convincing him to make one of the hardest-to-navigate choices a business owner can face.
“She said, ‘You need to open the store. People don’t know about you. You’re sitting here behind,’” Solano said. “I got some money from online, I got some money from my mom, I got some money I had put up, and we went and opened this store.”
Fast-forward to last year, Solano said he made his biggest ticket ever, selling a pair of worn Nike Air Mag sneakers for $16,500.
But he’s not being complacent about it. In fact, his latest plans are even grander than before.
“Corie, I can’t- I can’t believe where I’ve gotten it today, it’s to the point where that store... is now too small for me,” Solano said. “I have to go get a bigger building... there’s nowhere else to put shoes in that store.”
Black Men Sundays talks about building generational wealth. Check out every episode in the media player below: