Entrepreneur, Hypebeast and YouTube personality, and founder of Urban Necessities, Jaysse Lopez, has been getting a lot of attention for his sneakers, hustle, and drive. While Lopez started selling sneakers out of the trunk of his car, he had soon turned it into a $25 million business.
You started Urban Necessities while essentially homeless, and now you’re partnering with American Eagle. What’s your secret to now having a $25 million business?
It's just been repetition. Going through a lot of self-inflicted hardships and one day just waking up and realizing hey, there are all these guys you see on social media that have gotten to a certain level and you think it’s impossible, but everybody starts with the same. You’ve got to put effort in. And I just figured, as long as I focus my energy and I’m positive, I’ll just let time basically do its thing. As long as I give it the energy, at some point I knew I would be able separate myself from what others are doing.
Forbes talks about the industry being about a $100 billion industry, but when I opened my store, it was a much smaller number than that. The year before last it was $73 billion industry. So it's growing and I think it's going to be a while before that bubble bursts.
What excites you the most about the work Urban Necessities is doing?
The part that I enjoy most is being able to interact and make money with others.
I’ve got kids that are still in high school struggling with algebra, but they're making six figures in sales every year with me making 20, 30% margins.
Being able to motivate others is definitely the top one. Getting people inspired to just get up off their asses and get shit done. Being able to interact with all these supporters from all walks of life when they come into the store, or when I'm at a trade show and they just tell me what I've done for them and how it's inspired them. And being able to show my mom that although she gave me all this shit when I was a kid about buying shoes, that they could actually be profitable. When I was a kid, she always told me I was an idiot for spending all this money, and even the day that I opened my store she told me I should go get a real job.
The other part that excites me a lot is just not knowing how big this is really going to be. I lose sleep over it.
There obviously is big money in sneakers. What makes them able to upsell like that?
Think like baseball cards, or art. It’s stuff that you don't see everyday, and once the initial release of the item happens, it's no longer technically available to the public. So there're always people that want to stand out. There’re always people that want to express themselves in fashion and some things just go for more. We tried to play within that market and not beat people over the head, so to speak.
How many sneakers do you own?
Right now I'm probably at my lowest point because I'm trying to go liquid, but at my peak I had over 500 pairs.
Do you know how much you've spent spent in total on sneakers?
Yeah, way too much.
Do you have a favorite sneaker?
[The Air Jordan] Black Cement 3 is definitely one. [The Nike] Air Max is another one. Those are always go-tos in my collection.
What is one sneaker/streetwear trend that you'd like to see more of?
I'd like to see Air Maxes stay relevant. In the past, there were a lot of cool collaborations that happened and occurred basically during the time frame where I got into sneakers. It was fun chasing them and learning the stories as to why.
Which was your first tattoo?
Oh, man. I went with the stereotypical Chinese writing and I'm praying that it says what it's supposed to say: “Arouse the mind and never let it settle in one place.” It probably says, “I'll take a number three at McDonalds.”
Do you have any tattoos for your love of sneakers?
Yeah, I have an Air Max 1 tattooed on me, and I have the Urban Necessities logo tattooed on the side of my face.
What do you see for the future of Urban Necessities?
I think Urban Necessities is going to be a worldwide brand with multiple locations, and it's going to be looked at as one of the brands that changed the way retail is done.