Mama Sneaker Fiends
Here's a close up on some amazing women who juggle kids and kicks!
By Lori Lobenstine
I’ve always admired moms. Here I am, thinking my life is oh-so-busy, and then they do it all with kids to boot—it’s amazing. I’m no slouch, but getting up early every day to take care of a toddler? Arranging every evening around the needs of a young adult? Actually having to cook on a regular basis? These are things that could really cut into my time working on FSF!
N.E.R.D, Elisa and Eddie the 3rd
Years a fiend: 15
Years a mom: 7 (Eddie,2, not shown here)
N.E.R.D's kicks: 30
Kids' kicks: 80
Well, with that respect (awe) in mind, I’ve been amazed by the mamas I’ve bumped into on the site. There’s N.E.R.D, aka Precious Colon, who runs the FSF forums (with 18,000+ members!) while also raising two kids and studying to be a nurse. Incredible. And Charlene Gopaul who co-owns her own sneaker store (Sneaker Rehab) while being a mom and being only 19. Wow. And the first time I spoke with Lois Sakany, freelance writer and co-host of the popular “Chicks With Kicks” blog, we bonded about her son’s basketball team. Last but not least for this article, there’s Lissa, a member on FSF who aptly describes her week this way: “Well in between making like 6,074,548 meals a week, nap time, an uncomfortable toddler who just wants to play, a relationship, and a odd job here and there, you can always find time to eBay or go take an adventure to find a good pair for you and the little one.” Man, I need some time management tips from her!
Lissa and Lismaldy
Years a fiend: 11
Years a mom: 1.5
Lissa's kicks: 34
Lismaldy's kicks: 7
So what exactly are the highs and lows of combining an obsession for kicks with the responsibilities of parenthood? The highs of course include having your baby-boo turn the big boys’ heads, like little Kayla does: “It’s so much fun watching her break so many necks. When we go to places like Soho, and other sneaker heads see her wearing a pair of sneakers like her OG silver Tim Duncans, they go crazy. It’s also fun when customers come into "Sneaker Rehab" and see all her hot sneakers in the display cases and try to buy them.” Then there’s the joy of having someone to shop with, like Lissa’s daughter Lismaldy, whose mother says that what she lacks in understanding she makes up for in enthusiasm: “She just says “nice!” or ‘gimme!’ when we go shopping. She's mostly into Dora the Explorer, but I just tell her Dora likes kicks too!” But sometimes, it’s just about the pleasure of sharing your passion with your children. As Charlene puts it, “The most joyful is seeing her face light up when she opens a box and sees sneakers. She starts screaming ‘sneakers!’ ‘sneakers!’ in her little baby talk.”
Charlene and Kayla
Years a fiend: 6
Years a mom: 1.5
Charlene's kicks: 40
Kayla's kicks: 40
N.E.R.D’s highs and lows are connected, because she loves spending time with her kids and her kicks. “It’s very hard to balance out my time and attention. Mornings and afternoons are for the kids, and I deal with the site [FSF] at night. I love being with my children. I take them both to any sneaker event possible. My daughter thinks it’s cool. She enjoys going to the events and promoting FSF in any way she can. Though they mainly get stuck at home with dad when it comes to the late events.” Lois, the only fiend we interviewed with a child old enough to attend some of these events (he’s 13), says she’s enjoyed seeing Isaiah develop his own taste in kicks. Then again, she might be one of the only mom to be sad when her son told her, ““I have enough sneakers now; I don’t need any more.” (Geez, are they really related?)
Lois and Isaiah
Years a fiend: 10
Years a mom: 15
Lois's kicks: 20
Isaiah's kicks: 5
What are other challenges? Well, all of us who take extreme care with our kicks can imagine the stress of having them at risk of falling into careless (carefree?) little hands… Charlene tells this traumatic story: “She put chocolate all over a HOT pair of Reebok Classics Green/Blue mesh that I have. I couldn’t do anything because it was dumb of me to leave my sneakers out in the open when there is a little monster running around.” Lissa laments, “She's always knocking down my stack of boxes, and she's always trying to build a mountain to climb or stairs. I don’t get too upset—she doesn’t know any better.” Of course, we can’t just blame the kids, because N.E.R.D has another culprit: “[Not the kids], but I have an English bulldog who has chewed through 3 pairs!” Yikes.
Now, no one’s buying sneakers for that bad dog, but who’s buying all these kicks for the little ones? For little Kayla, you could say she’s the main customer of Sneaker Rehab. “Her aunt and uncle both bought her her first pair of kicks. Other than them it’s just her father [the other co-owner] and I that buy her sneakers, because other people wouldn’t know how to shop for her.” But don’t think she has unlimited kicks, because Charlene explains one challenge this way: “Being a sneaker head and a mom can be very difficult especially when money is tight, so don’t spend your last dime on sneakers even if it’s the newest pair of Jordans.”
For Lissa, the financial weight is split, but mostly it’s her: “I do, as well as her dad. He doesn’t understand the whole sneaker loving obsession [but] it’s super rewarding to pass along your own twist to what we soo cherish as the family tradition.” N.E.R.D and her husband both buy kicks for their two, including starting Elisa off with the Space Jam 11’s and Eddie with the grey/purple 7s. But don’t think it’s about bragging rights in that family, “My kids hate on no one. Momma taught them right!” says N.E.R.D. (And I believe her.) Of course, not every mama sneaker fiend has a baby daddy helping out. Lois tells this story: “His father isn’t in the picture so unfortunately he’s missed out on that side of the story…. I remember when he was a baby, his Godmother wanted to buy him some Jordans, but our mutual friend wouldn’t let us ‘cause she thought the price was ridiculous, and that there were other things I—extremely broke single Mom that I was—needed a lot more. She was right, but whatever. I still sometime regret not getting them.”
Overall, however, these moms definitely saw buying kicks for their children as an investment as well as an expense. Far from the days when kicks were just something kids tore up and outgrew, some of these fiends are recognizing their little ones’ footwear as something to cherish and save for the future. As Lissa says, “I like to get her Jordans; I just think they fit really nice, and by the time she's my age they'll be worth more since there are rumors Jordan's not gonna make anymore kicks after 23.” And you don’t think Charlene is investing in the future? “Kayla’s sneaker game is way better than mine and her fathers put together. She has Olympic Patrick Ewings, Tim Duncans, OG Agassis, Penny 2's, Black/Cement 3's, Ninja Turtle Huaraches, Raptor 7's and so much more.” Maybe Lissa sums it up best when she describes sharing her passion with her progeny: “This isn't your great grandmother's quilt making, this is history in the making.”
P.S. FSF also checked in on how the passion was (or wasn’t rubbing off) on the young ones. Here’s how the moms describe their children’s taste in kicks (and other passions):
Charlene: She loves sneakers and Elmo.
Lissa: She's mostly into Dora the Explorer, but I just tell her Dora likes kicks too!
N.E.R.D: My daughter goes crazy for kicks especially if they have any type of animal print.
Lois: Last week a friend took him shopping at the House of Hoops in Harlem, and he picked out a pair of Amare Stoudemire Shox, which were much flashier than I thought he would ever like.