Running a small business can be indescribably difficult. Maybe there was a simpler time when “small business” really was - “small” but in today’s environment, a “small business” can be almost anything. Sneaker show pop-ups, sushi restaurants or franchises doing numbers north of double digit millions in revenue, can all be “small businesses.” Some small businesses are so big - behemoths like Amazon.com are better comparisons for what they really are. Today, even a lemonade stand has to account for international shipping, taxes, supply chain and bottling operations. Grind, hustle, work. These are words meant to neatly package insanity, exhaustion and levels of satisfaction everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. If you clear the first hurdle and embrace the joy and challenge of small business, the real fun begins. This is what they call “the real work” of business creation.
Building a business is exactly what it sounds like. A foundation is laid, a frame is created and around the frame, a building is constructed. What emerges from there is up to you. Vanilla construction is boring so forget about attention, interest and sales. Creative structures grab attention and draw people in but all that glitters is often not gold. So a business that’s all flash and no photo won’t be framed as something successful. That leaves us with something between beautiful and practical. Something that draws people in and makes them happy that they took the detour. If you can construct that much, a business is born. Now it has to grow and requires a path that turns those visitors into customers, the most important people to any business - big or small.
38% of small businesses are owned by women and 47% of those are operated by minority women. Add those statistics to the outlined start up challenges and Katty Customs’ (KC) achievements over the last six years becomes clear. CEO and founder Katty Lenoir’s chosen structure rests with a solid foundation in her community, the ability to fulfill the needs of customers ranging from A-list celebrities, star athletes and members of the broader sneaker and fashion world and an ability to transform footwear into works of fashionable art.
Computers are a large part of why businesses of all sizes are able to generate greater revenues, which was considered impossible before their creation. With the ability to process millions of ideas at billions of cycles per second, computers in many ways have enabled us to replicate ourselves and abilities. With computers, we can create armies of accountants, sales teams, inventory specialists and more computers to create the troops and resources required to build and operate in a constantly evolving environment.
But what if your business is different? What if there are things that machines, processors and automation cannot do? What if each request fed into the system is 100% unique and cannot be crunched into something “statistical?” This is where Katty Customs and other businesses built by artisans depart Silicone Valley for paths less traveled in our modern era.
From the KC About Us Page: “Katty Customs is a company built off of being unique and different.”
That is a truly bold statement when there’s so much duplication of everything. However, this isn’t “everything” - this is customized art. Landing on KC’s ‘About Us Page’ triggers a clip of Nikki ‘Katty Lenoir’ Knight practicing her craft with the care and skill reflected in her business’ products. You see how they create uniqueness. By hand, by brush strokes with a splash of paint, imagination and true joy.
On the CEO’s face sits a wide smile and on her desk bottles of various Angelus products skip across the screen without any dressing aside from labels stating the substance and purpose. We see a cutting board covered with paint blotted paper that looks good enough to be many people’s best artistic efforts. Like a picture frame, an assortment of brushes and other containers run along either side of the desk. At the top right corner, an electronic device sits almost out of focus like an afterthought against the more prominent tools. At the center Katty holds a pair of Air Force Ones. She seems almost too well groomed to be in close proximity to paints and mess. An apron provides protection for a sensible set of clothing. In a pair of stylish glasses, Katty looks like a CEO about to give a lecture on art and style. With manicured hands, she smiles - almost laughing as she rubs one of the pairs back to its factory form.
Each phase of the process is presented in a combination of progressive angles and close-ups, augmented by sharp cuts and deliberate brush strokes. Like magic and wishing the span of a few seconds, the old pair of Air Jordan 1’s is transformed into a richly detailed Gucci x Louis custom. This defies conventional business logic in a world where volume is marketed as the only measure of success. This is art. With art, 1 item is often all there is - there are no others. It all looks so simple but anybody who ever painted a stick man with water colors knows the truth. I might still have my gold star master piece from kindergarten somewhere - a proud moment indeed. Unfortunately, it was not a sign of greatness. In my case, it’s proof of my artistic peak.
Stretching back to 2015, Instagram (IG) images from the “Katty Lenoir” clothing line serve as a visual milestones for the business’s march from past to present. If you like art, fashion, shoes, street fashion, Jordans, etc, you will love her IG page. An origin story can be seen in those early imaged with glimpses of Katty Customs’ foundation. You get a sense of what it could be at a time when people like Chris Brown were rising to fame and a small business owner name Nicolle Knight was still straddling that shaky bridge between safety and dreams.
Katty Customs’ visual narrative portrays an emergence of signature style. One that is distinctly energetic, California street fashion and unique. Pictures of famous friends and family- repping the early days of “Katty Lenoir” clothing speaks to a strong foundation with deep roots in the community. From those early roots ventures into color, style, tones and textures merged into a bespoke business focused on footwear and street fashion. For those of us who have followed KC since their Instagram launch, a Katty creation is recognizable from a mile away. If you have been following over the last few years, you have probably seen more than one Katty Custom on the feet of pro ball players, celebrities and entertainers. Or more recently on MTV’s Wild n’ Out “Sneaker Wars” or co-hosting “Fresh Pair” with Just Blaze on Uproxx. Of note, the firm also does shoe repairs. This is a very good thing - think life extension for your favorite colorway. The service deserves its own coverage so for now, keep it in mind.
With solid foundational roots in the community and firm footing in footwear and fashion, Katty Customs has grown into the enterprise we see today. Spearheaded by a leader who many consider one of the most genuine folks in the industry, KC is the type of business we all want to grow and stay prosperous for many years to come. In the spirit of that admiration, we are also excited about our very own Katty Customs “Mystery Box.”
For years we have wanted to order something from Katty Customs but could not find the right project. So much of what we do relies on being crystal clear, we were concerned that a “customized example” used to demonstrate Sole Protector risked confusion and misunderstanding. Then we ran into the Mystery Box post on Instagram and knew this was what we were looking for.
According to the Katty Custom website:
“This Sneaker Mystery Box includes 7 exclusive items hand made by Katty Customs, including a pair of customized sneakers of her choice with your shoe size.”
We chose Sneaker Mystery Box #3 and now it has arrived. Click here to check out our mystery box unboxing.