Kickstarter: Junior donates thousands of dollars to charities from shoe re-selling business

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Images used with permission from Colin Lee.

Colin Lee takes a picture of sneakers on top of a shoebox in his normal backdrop of a concrete ground in the front of his house to post on his Instagram on April 21, 2021.

By Dominique Chang, Sunny Hills High School

Since last November, junior Colin Lee has made $8,000 off re-selling shoes through his Instagram shoe-selling business, Bobakickss.

Lee could have invested all of it into stocks like Tesla, which is selling at more than $700 per share, to see how much it could help him pay for his future college tuition.

Or, he could have used it as a downpayment to lease a new Tesla Model 3. But instead, in January he donated all of his profits primarily to organizations that feed the homeless and support social justice.

“I decided that [it] was enough profit for me since I didn’t even expect to make that much,” Lee said. So far, he has donated around $2,500 in total to the Orange County [OC] Food Bank in Garden Grove, the Stop AAPI Hate organization and Direct Relief, a Santa Barbara-based organization that aids COVID-19 relief.

“Currently, my plan is to donate around $1,000 consistently to the OC Food Bank and the other half to current world issues like anti-Asian hate crime programs,” the shoe salesman said.

Lee attributes his goodwill to his parents, who inspired him to donate money as they always participated in charity work and taught him to help others.

“Ever since Colin was young, we’ve participated in compassion projects where monthly we send money to kids in need and provide for them,” Lee’s dad Jung Lee said. “He’s told us that the compassion project was one of the main reasons he donated to charity and we’re glad we could lead him to do good.”

With the remainder of his profits, Lee said he saves money for future college expenses and envisions his business donating $10,000 to charities, gaining 5,000 followers, reaching 250 references and doing business with a verified celebrity.

“I’m setting pretty high goals for myself, but that’s what I like to do,” Lee said. “If I am able to achieve them, that would be amazing, but even if I don’t, I’ll still be happy since the growth on my page has smashed my expectations already.”

HOW HE GOT SHOED INTO THE BUSINESS

During the start of November, Lee explored his love for sneakers after running across a sneaker business on Instagram called @ydgshoeplug.

Putting in as much as 20 hours a week toward his business, he said he spent his time looking for fairly new or used sneakers that others were selling on Instagram and eBay; Lee initially had $1000 saved up and got a loan of $500 from his parents.

Once his shipments arrive, he would immediately take pictures of them and post them onto his Instagram page to make them available as a resale purchase.

“Once I receive the shoes in a local meetup or through shipping, I’ll check them to make sure they aren’t fake and also look for any flaws to make sure they are in the condition that they were described as,” Lee said. “Once everything checks out, I’ll wait for good lighting outside and take my pictures.”

His journey did not start off pleasantly as he was scammed during one of his first deals. 

Lee said he felt ecstatic to find a bargain when he saw that a shoe business with 10,000 followers and many positive reviews reached out saying it was willing to sell a $400 pair of shoes for $250. He found out after he made the transaction that the followers and reviews ended up being fake. 

Despite being upset, he took it as an incentive to work harder and further develop his business.

“It was pretty tough to get over it, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it,” Lee said. “I learned my lesson [to not trust people too easily] and haven’t been scammed since.”

Another challenge for Lee was for Bobakickss to gain popularity and customers. Over time, he was able to build many connections through communicating with other sellers.

Lee’s Instagram page has accumulated almost 4,000 followers and continues to grow.

“I’m still pretty shocked at my growth,” he said. “I never even expected to be at this position when I first started in November, so I’m definitely excited for the future to see how far my business can take me.”

Lee keeps a consistent Instagram feed by taking all his sneaker photos in the same background of either greenery or a concrete ground with the shoe in one hand or on the ground. 

“It brings more consistency to my page,” he said. “It’s a lot cleaner to look at and looks more professional.”

Lee said he has learned a lot throughout this business journey and realized that this field may be a career path he might be interested in.

“As a junior, I have a lot of things on my plate, and when I first started the business, it was extremely stressful to manage my time, but I’m still learning, and I’ve gotten a bit better at it,” he said. “I’ve also learned things like patience, self-control, how to negotiate, people skills and other business skills.”

ORIGIN STORY

The name Bobakickss came about as he gives a free boba for every two purchases a customer makes, Lee said. If the transaction calls for a meetup, he would hand deliver the goods and the drink; if not, he said he would order the boba through Doordash. 

Occasionally, he said he’s prone to give a free boba for first-time customers as well. 

“Before I made Bobakickss, I was looking around Instagram, and everyone had names like Hype Kicks or Orange County Sneakers,” Lee said. “I wanted to be unique and the free boba idea just came to my head one day.”

Lee said he initially started his own business to make money for another pair of sneakers that were releasing in late November. Although he never ended up getting those pairs, he created a sneaker resale business of his own.

The reason behind the double “s” ending to his company’s name is because an account called bobakicks was taken by someone who had 10 followers.

Bobakickss now sells to over 150 customers nationwide, he said. And although he’s passionate about shoes, he’s been quite self-disciplined with the ones he obtains for resale.

“I’ve never kept a pair I’ve bought for myself, although I’ve been tempted a lot of times,” Lee said. “But I prefer profit over a personal pair.”

This story was originally published on The Accolade on May 8, 2021.