GET TO KNOW a Sneakerhead: Ian Heu

TwoJsKicks left the desert in September for Maui.  Even on vacation, we’ve got shoes on the mind.  So not only did we go out there to celebrate my (joaniebean) grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversaty, but we celebrated our love of kicks by meeting some of Maui’s sneakerheads.

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Military Blue IVs

Most of you reading this might already belong to Facebook sneaker forums like Vegas Sneaker Heads, or Hawaii SneakerHeads and the likes.  Those forums have a significant following and are a perfect vehicle for one to not only gain more knowledge about the latest kicks, the history of kicks, but also to share experiences that relate to this passion (some may call obsession), with those around us.  When your experience is a little bit different, perhaps because you’re on a small island and sometimes feel secluded and excluded because the hottest kicks out there are so out of reach, you may want to turn to the more tighter-knit community around you for support.  For Ian Heu, Maui-born and raised sneakerhead, the need for a more local forum to talk sneakers is what inspired him to create MauiSneakerHeads.

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Ian (left) with Jaysse

Ian is an innovator.  He works at NAPA Auto Parts by day.  A full-time family man (he is currently planning his daughter’s 1st birthday party with girlfriend and high school sweetheart Tiffany Echiverri).  But off the clock, he is an entrepreneur building a brand:  Lions Tribe Maui.  Every sneakerhead is going to be thinking about what fresh threads he or she is going to rock with the latest addition to their collection, and Ian might be on to something here.  What we have seen of it so far is clever.  And we can’t wait to see what else he has in store for Maui and the rest of us!  Not only was he willing to set aside some time for us to chop it up and peek at some of his prized sneakers, but he was generous in giving us some gear that features the brand’s logo/design.  In fact, we loved it so much, we have a banner he gifted us hanging above our office desk.

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Lions Tribe Logo

The MauiSneakerHeads creator met us as we were leaving Maui (our meeting took place in the airport parking lot just minutes before checking into our departing gate!).  Now I (joaniebean) am going to be honest and tell you that Jaysse, better known as Puerto Rock Apache is the real sneakerhead of TwoJsKicks.  My knowledge of sneakers, although it is expanding, is limited.  I’m very new to the game.  Sometimes hearing someone talk sneakers is like me hearing someone speak Chinese.  But Ian made it so easy for me to follow, as he spoke so intelligibly about kicks but in a language I’m verrrry familiar with:  pidgin!

We share, like always, a little bit of the conversation we had with Ian Heu:

How long have you been collecting sneakers?

A couple of years (maybe 2 or 3) I got back into it.  But I was first into sneakers about 2004 or 2005 when I was in high school.  I wasn’t really working when I was in high school, and shoes are not cheap.

So basically when you had the means to do it yourself, that’s when you got serious about it?

Yeah.  That’s when I started dropping some dollars.  Haha!

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A few of Ian’s personal pics

What got you into sneakers?

My braddah (brother) used to get Jordans.  He used to come home showing me the pairs he picked up saying, “Ohhhh…. How’s these new Jordans?!?” You know… I look up to him; he’s my older brother.  He used to watch Jordan play in the OG 1’s and all that.  I got into it when they starting doing retros of all the old ones.  And I thought, “ I gotta have em!”

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What about the sneaker culture do you enjoy the most?

Well, down here it’s harder to get a pair of sneakers.  ‘Cause we only got 3 spots on Maui  and they rarely get any retros, or runners.  They don’t really get heat so it’s mostly online, communicating with other people or getting lucky on Nike or something.  Everybody is connected.  Everybody helps each other out; if you’re looking for something, you ask one of the homies.   I’m looking for a pair and boom! everybody starts searching with you.  It’s not cutthroat.  Here we’re more like a sneaker family.

*Note that since we talked to Ian, that the main Foot Locker at Queen Kaahumanu Mall has closed, further limiting the spots he usually goes to for pairs.  He has since been in contact with other retailers on Maui to find out how the deficit of the main spot for shoes will be made up for.

What was your first pickup?

Oh the first one? I don’t know.  I usually pick up 2 or 3 at a time.

Well whats the first that your remember that you were really excited you picked up yourself?

Probably the Kicks Hawaii dunks and the Kicks Hawaii rebook pumps.

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Ian’s Kicks Hawaii dunks

What size do you wear?  Do you find it easy to find the sneakers you want, in your size?

10 to11.   Some sneakers 9.5 depending on the shoe.  It’s kinda hard cause most of my friends are all the same size.

Do you rock ‘em or do you stock ‘em?

I rock all of them.  I mean some of the ones I brought today are deadstock, but I’m gonna wear ‘em soon.

How many pairs do you own right now?

Close to 70 and I wear all of ‘em!  You need variety… my girlfriend gets mad sometimes and tells me, “C’mon hurry up… pick a shoe!” She is getting into sneakers now because I also buy our daughter shoes. My daughter has about 13 pairs and she can’t even fit them yet.   So, my girlfriend is like , “Bruh! You wasting money!”  But 3 years from now she can wear them and people will be like “Ooh, where you get those from?!?”  Tiffany gets it though.

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Ian’s daughter’s collection

What’s the craziest thing you have done for a shoe?

I camped 8 hours at the mall. I was first in line for the Grape 5s (the white ones).

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Kicks Hawaii Reebok Pumps, Shadow 5000s Liquid Metal Pack, Black Grapes, USA Air Force 1

What sneaker release are you looking forward to?

Bel-air 5’s

What do you foresee happening with the shoe game?

Ever since Maui had the Laced Up Hawaii event, everybody got to know that there’s a community out here of sneakerheads.  There are people that actually enjoy sneakers… buying them, collecting them, trading them, selling them.   So I think gonna get better.  Now it’s just dealing with the stores here being limited on what how we can get our hands on.   Our Foot Locker only gets certain retros cause they think this color way not going sell or another is not popular but Kobes, Lebrons,  KDs they get them by the hundreds. Not too many people are buying those, but when Jordans come out everybody is lined up early and by 9  or 10 o’clock its all gone.

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Lions Tribe table a the Laced Up Hawaii even on Maui

Ian gave us a better understanding of the struggles one might have living on Maui, where your resources are limited to cop that latest pair.  And we know that there are tons of you out there facing the same thing.  Maybe it’s not on an island.  Maybe you’re in a small town.  Maybe you’re in another country even.    Ian made it clear that when you’re passionate enough about something, you don’t let anything become an obstacle between you and that whatever that passion is.  And if you love sneakers the way he does, you don’t let an obstacle like being on a rock in the middle of the ocean stop you from going after what you want, and doing big things…

Don’t let anything stop you.

It’s not always about Sneakers

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Two Js Kicks has not only a love for sneakers, but also a love for ink.  We were fortunate enough to get in some time with Pako Barragan, who has done most of Jaysse’s ink.  If you’re local to Vegas, and you’ve come across us in a sneaker line or anywhere else in the streets, you have likely seen Jaysse sans shirt, displaying Pako’s amazing work.  (I’m always teasing Jay about the fact that half of Vegas has seen my man without his shirt).   If you haven’t yet, it’s only a matter of time!

albert.einsteinThis is the reference portrait of Jaysse’s latest ink:  Albert Einstein

The piece is not yet complete, so you’ll only get a little tease with this post.  John Legend says it best when he speaks of music:  “I never listen to leaks.   Always want to wait ’til I’m sure it’s the version the artist wants to release.  Mixed, mastered, and paid for.”  We’ll post again with the finished product, but let’s give it some time to let Pako to finish out and complete the magic that he does with a tattoo gun (when our schedules align with his)… it’ll be worth the wait.

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When you’re not chasing shoes, how else do you like to spend your time?

~joaniebean

GET TO KNOW a Sneakerhead: Keyon Brown

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I (joaniebean) first met Keyon at a line for the Lebron Corks at the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino.  At first glance, he appears to be a kid without a care in the world, as he walks around with his eyes lit up and his lips smirked, like he knows something you don’t.  The kid doesn’t sweat anything.  Literally.  That line for the Corks was in the middle of February, where we waited on a bridge outside of the building.  Some nights hit the low 20’s.  Since then, we’ve come across him multiple times, as the cold months turned into warmer ones, and most recently, some camps we’re out in are in triple digit temps.  I stared at him a few moments in that heat with beads of sweat dripping down my own neck, thinking How is he not sweating like the rest of us?  And WHY is he still smirking?

Keyon is one of the more laid-back of the people we come across.  He invited us over one Tuesday night (July 16th) to peek at some of his shoe collection, and to talk more about his love of sneakers.  We walked into his apartment and it had to be about 90 degrees in there.  We were sweating as he effortlessly moved a load of shoes into his living room for display.  Keyon never broke a sweat.

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Here is some of what we talked about…

How long have you been collecting sneakers?

Since I came out the womb!

No, but seriously, how long have you been serious about kicks?

I was  15.

What got you into sneakers?

Mom Dukes, man.  Her collection was crazy.  She didn’t even collect, but seeing the stuff she used to rock turned me on to ‘em.

What is it about the sneaker culture that you enjoy the most?

I’ll be out there in these lines and waiting crazy hours for these shows, but outside of the shoe, I like meeting new people.  Some of the people out there are regulars.  We call it “retail game” with the folks I mess with; it turns into looking out for them, and them looking out for you.

What was your first cop?

It was a pair of uptowns.  Matter of fact, I got them in the room right now!  Black and white mint tops from Shiekh when they first opened at the Boulevard.  That was from the 10th grade!  [Keyon is now 23 years old]

What size do you wear?  Do you find it easy to find the sneakers you want, in your size?

Certain shoes 9.5 to 10.  Trainers?  10.5 Airmax I can do 10 or 10.5 everything 9.5 Do I find it hard?  Hell yeah I find it hard.  It’s the most common shoe sizes! What you mean?!? (laughs)

Do you rock ‘em or do you stock ‘em?

I do both.  Since I started working this grave[yard shift], I get around to ‘em when I can.

How many pairs do you own right now?

Probably about 335.

Which shoe in your collection is your favorite

My foams.  Mainly the coppers.

What’s the craziest thing you have done for a shoe?

I camped 3 days for the galaxy foams and I didn’t even get them.  I was number 1 there and they moved the line.  (shakes his head)

Hardest shoe to grab? 

The Corks.  I left CRSVR, I won’t name names, but they kept regulating the line.  We ain’t gonna get into to that.  Plan B Keys, had to grab them somewhere else.

Easiest shoe to grab? 

Kamikazes.  They were just sitting there; people was sleepin’ on them.  (smirks)

What sneaker release are you most looking forward to?

They haven’t released the line up yet.  I don’t know.  But right now, I’m wanting those [Lebron] mints.

What do you foresee happening with the shoe game?

Certain brands like Jordan…. is going to get worse.  It’s like water to me.  He’s bringing out stuff from like 20 years ago.  They’re running out of ideas.  How many times the Bred XI’s restock?  Man…

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Keyon continues to talk to us about other things that are important to him.  With some of his earliest memories that involve sneakers being alongside his mother, family is obviously something he holds close to his heart.  He tells us about the galaxies being a shoe he is still looking to own.  He says, “They’re my holy grails!   If I got those galaxies, I wouldn’t stop with the shoes though.  I gotta get Yeezys.  HAVE to get them back.  Only shoe I regret getting rid of.”  He reminisces about going to the store with his mother as a toddler, trying to steal shoes and putting them in the car.  He’d get into trouble of course, but it’s how he explains he was meant to be sneakerhead.

Like many others out there, he invests a great deal of time and money into the shoes he absolutely loves, and has to have.  His mother is now a lady into heels and sandals, but he has taken over the legacy as his family’s sneakerhead.   He really does know something a lot of people don’t.  But it’s keeping that info a mystery to the rest of them that helps him avoid the Hype that has changed this game so much in recent years.  He keeps his cool, all while obtaining some of the freshest kicks out there.   Thank you Keyon, for your time and for the chance to see your dope collection.  And thank you for turning the AC up before I melted.  :)

~joaniebean

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