A Sneakerhead’s Paradise, a student-run business, wants to emphasize collecting over reselling sneakers.
Although other businesses might sell the latest sneakers at a lower price, there’s the risk that some of these deals might be based on fraudulent sneakers. A Sneakerhead’s Paradise, or ASP, brings the strategy of a subscription-based model that promotes a personalized sneaker buying experience at competitive prices.
The website says customers must create an account and choose between three different subscription plans based on the customer’s budget.
A customer first identifies the kind of shoe he or she wants, searching for brand names and style codes for customization. Once the company gets the sneaker that has been requested, the customer will be contacted and will have up to three days to purchase it. The sneaker will only be available for purchase for that individual customer.
The founders of the company balance school, their business and personal lives to bring customers this shoe-buying experience.
Nazr El-Scari, ‘21, the CEO of ASP, officially launched the company in June 2017, but the idea was born before he came to Lehigh.
El-Scari said he loved collecting sneakers growing up, but access to his favorite shoes were limited. The sneakers he really wanted were either too expensive, would sell out quickly or were never released in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, the website said.
El-Scari started working at a startup app company and was able to start funding his own sneaker collection. The website said in less than two months, the shoe collection increased from five pairs to 55.
The more shoes he collected, the more El-Scari realized some people were willing to pay more for sneakers than what he paid even after they were worn, the website said. He also realized that many other people were missing out on shoe sales and couldn’t afford high resale prices.
He said, in the early stages of the company, it was difficult being young and trying to navigate a space that people have been in since the era of Michael Jordan.
“I just wanted to jump into the idea,” El-Scari said. “I didn’t realize I had to learn more about the market before I jumped into the idea.”
It was through the Baker Institute’s Hatchery program that El-Scari met some peers and friends that would later become part of ASP’s five current executive board members.
One of these people is his friend David Kroll, ’20, chief operating officer of ASP. Kroll said one of his contributions to the company is a formula he created that evaluates the value of a sneaker in different circumstances.
He primarily focuses on big picture strategy, logistics, data analysis and financial forecasting.
“It’s a very out-of-the-box idea,” Kroll said. “A little of the way of what’s obvious, it’s what makes it a good business idea. It’s really difficult to convince people that this idea makes sense because, for a lot of people, it’s difficult to explain what the idea is.”
El-Scari was hesitant at first to add anyone to his business, fearing his idea would get stolen from under him. He said he realized there were things he was not capable of doing.
El-Scari said he is thrilled about the people he has working with him and said their business is a collaborative effort.
“I am always willing to listen to new ideas, take a new approach and let them create as they create,” he said. “And then we can fit their creation into the vision as I see it moving forward. It’s a bit of all of us.”
Before COVID-19, ASP had many goals to expand its network with in-person events to promote the business. Now, El-Scari and his team found other ways to provide innovation online.
Nicole Bolton, ’21, creative designer of ASP, said, due to the pandemic, they have added a wish list on the website that would allow them to get the sneakers people request.
Bolton said she didn’t want to go into the software engineering role and instead wanted to go into something that could have “more creative leeway.”
“I am drawn into startups where you might be working on the software, but you also might be working on other aspects and contributing with helping other people solve their problems,” Bolton said. “I am really here for a cross functional team.”
El-Scari said even though Bethlehem is not a sneaker hub like New York City or Philadelphia, they are trying to improve their connections in these cities.
Moving forward, ASP hopes to increase its marketing on social media and the web through the use of celebrities and athletes. Kroll said this will add more trust to experienced sneakerheads.
“I hope for ASP to become a staple for the sneaker world,” Kroll said. “I wouldn’t measure my hope for the company in a dollar value. For example, I would really measure it in terms of sneakerheads all over the country feeling like it’s an essential thing to be a member of ASP.”