Kickin’ It With Style

What do (818) locals Alexander Orozco (the Hood Foodie), Marie Salazar (owner of the 818 Pop Up Shop), Joel Gonzalez (Head Chef of Mariscos Corona), Nestor Aguilar (The 818 Insider) have in common? Apart from being from the San Fernando Valley, of course! Give up? Each of them own shoes specifically tailored to their brand.

And the team behind the shoe magic is none other than the husband and wife team of Miguel and Jeanette Montenegro, owners of the the popular SNKRS by Miggz and JJ! With the growing demand and popularity of their customized shoes, it only made sense to feature their amazing work. August marks the first anniversary of their venture! Read on as Miguel shares the story of how his business came to fruition in the span of a year.

Photo Credit: SNKRS by Miggs and JJ

Tell us your story.  How did Snkrs by Miggz and JJ start?

This is all started thanks to my wife! When the pandemic first hit last year, it took a lot of things away that I would normally spend my free time doing. I work 4am-3:30pm Mon-Fri and after work, I was a volunteer coach for my kids’ sports team for the city. I coached 2 separate teams so with practices and games my schedule was pretty busy. Then Covid hit and all that was taken away. I would get home from work and find myself with nothing to do. I would just lay down watch tv and  sleep for the rest of the day. I was in a funk and my wife saw it. Jeanette or as I like to call her JJ said, “You need to get out of bed and do something. I don’t like seeing you like this.” She then asked me, “You like shoes, you have a lot why don’t you try making your own like the videos you see on IG?”.

I didn’t give it much thought at the time but being the amazing partner that she is, I remember her coming home after I woke up from a nap with some paint brushes and paints specifically made for shoes. She said, “Here you go. Get up and try it.” So I did! I grabbed a pair of my daughter’s old shoes and gave it a test run and let me just say it looked like I painted it with my feet that’s how bad it looked. However, I noticed while I was doing it that I had a big smile on my face the whole time!  After the first month of learning techniques and much practice, she came home with an air brush machine and that was a game changer for me! And after that moment things, just took off! Two and a half months into this, she decided to make an IG. We came up with the name and everything just started falling into place! This August will be our first year, and we have never imagine we’d be where we are right now. To say we are blessed is an understatement and it’s all thanks to JJ. We started out as just SNKRS by Miggz but just recently after teaching her the things I know and her teaching me new things I decided to change it to SNKRS by MIGGZ & JJ because after all there wouldn’t be a SNKRS by MIGGZ without JJ.

Have you always had a passion for designing and customizing sneakers? 

I really never gave it much thought in the past. I always been a shoe collector and had a passion for shoes but never to create my own.  Where did the idea come from? My wife ! this is all because of her . She gave me the idea she bought me my first paint set as well as my air brush machine. She said she could picture me doing it and here I am!

What is the process of designing a pair and how long does it usually take?

 Each pair of shoes is different. 1 pair of shoes can take up 10 – 12hrs. The most important part is prepping the shoe! Removing all the factory paint and sealer, Sanding down the shoe to taping up areas you don’t want painted. This process alone can take up to 3 hours depending on the shoe.

Does the customer just give you a theme and then you run with it? 

Usually the client comes to me with a theme of what they are looking for. Once I know what they are looking for I hand it over to JJ which then mocks up a design on her Ipad based off our own ideas. We send it to the customer if they approve then we go with it. Sometimes we get customers that say here are some cleats for my son’s do you ! To have someone’s trust like that based off my work is an amazing feeling!

Do you customize any kind of sneakers or are the customizations limited to a certain brand?

There is no limit of shoes that we can customize or brand ! Yes some brands are better than others but the results always tend to make the customers happy. We’ve done shoes from Vans, Nike , Adidas, that range from canvas to plastic and rubber cleats.

PHOTO CREDIT: SNKRS by Miggz and JJ

What has been your favorite design so far?

My favorite by far is the very first pair of shoes I tried and ruined for my daughter lol I love it just because I look at it and it shows me how far I’ve come in 1 year, but my wife ( and part of me) really love my TOY STORY OFF WHITE JORDAN 1’s. As far as orders one of my favorites has been working with the LA RAMS organization. 7 months into our first year we were contacted from one of the Rams staff members to do the teams “My Cause My Cleats”. Every year the NFL allows each player on each team to choose an organization to play for and have their cleats customized for that cause for 1 game out of the year. After the game the cleats are auctioned off with proceeds going to that particular cause they chose. We were blessed to be chosen and created 40 pairs of cleats for the players and 40 pairs of Jordan shoes for the staff members. Some customizers take years to land something like this and to have been picked not even into a full year is a dream come true. We got to meet players and coaches. So much fun! You can see all our designs on the Rams website just search My Cause My Cleats as well on my IG page there is a link .

What has been the feedback from both new and returning customers?

The feedback has been nothing but positive! My favorite part of this is seeing the faces of clients when they get their shoes! The feeling is indescribable. Sometimes I just get random messages from people who just stumble across my page that really enjoy my work. One of the biggest compliments is when a customer comes back for another pair. These customs tend to get pricey so for someone to love my work that much to come back its pretty amazing ! I have one customer who has ordered over 8 pairs thus far and wants more ! lol He been loyal since I started Shout out to Damon!!

What challenges have you encountered during this process?

Earlier this year I lost my brother due to Covid. For a person with Down syndrome, Covid would be the worst possible thing to get .  He was an amazing person with a huge heart and beautiful smile . When he passed away in January, I took some time off from shoes and I was at a point where I was just going to stop and not do it anymore . My heart just wasn’t in it . After a month or two away from customizing, I realized with the help of my family that he wouldn’t want me to just stop . So instead, I kept going and ever since then, we  continued to be blessed every month with work and more opportunities. I like to think he is up there helping us with all the success recently. Everything I did from that point on was in dedication to him ! And I know if he was here he’d be proud of what we accomplished in such little time ! I love you, brother and I hope I’ve made you proud! 

Moving forward, where do you see your business going?

I don’t know what the future holds but we are not looking back! We are going to continue learning new techniques putting in the time to get better and continue to grow. Right now I still work at my job and hopefully when the time is right I will make customizing shoes my full time job. We want to be one of the best customizers out there to the point where if someone saw a shoe they can easily say Miggz or JJ did that!

Are there are any events or collaborations that you’ll be involved in or with?

We have a few things lined up ! We cant really give you their names as of yet , but we have shoes getting made for a famous Cali DJ , a huge soccer star , a video Producer. Hopefully in the future we can start working on some pop up shops in different areas to get our name out there.

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