We had the good fortune of connecting with Sawsun Khodapanah and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sawsun, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It’s funny how life works – sketches and incomplete ideas I had in the early 2010’s eventually turned into the clothing brand that I founded and am still building in 2021. I have always been entrepreneurially inclined, in favor of the idea of creating and building something for yourself. When I graduated from UCSB in 2017, I started selling shoes on Instagram, under the name “San Diego Sneaks.” Basketball being my biggest love, I naturally grew to love sneakers as a kid and young man; I thought “Why not make something of all this time I’ve put into sneaker culture?” After a few months, the page had started to gain some traction locally, and I had my mind on doing more. Come summer 2018, my hometown friend and I successfully debuted our first “San Diego Sneaks Summer Classic” annual 5-on-5 basketball tournament, in our hometown of La Jolla, CA. I designed shirts for all of the tournament’s participating players, and they were a hit – friends, family, and people from the community wanted to know how they could get their own shirt. Due to the demand, I ended up taking orders from all the requests I received – this marked the first t-shirt that I ever designed and sold. From that point on, I began to transition the business I had started from a sneaker-selling business to a clothing brand. I much preferred the prospect of a clothing brand, where I could create my own original work and create my own story, rather than simply reselling shoes for a quick buck. Now in 2021, I am still learning and growing, both as a business owner and a young man. The brand, which now exists as “Sneaks Clothing Brand” (changed from the original “San Diego Sneaks” name) is built to represent the Southern California, West Coast lifestyle that my community and I are true to and made from.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As I mentioned before, my artistic/creative venture is my clothing brand, Sneaks. It is a constant work in progress, and I am still learning every day. That being said, I am proud and honored that friends, community members, and even people beyond the SD community, enjoy and take pride in wearing our stuff. We are a West Coast streetwear brand, and we take pride in authentically representing the vibes and styles that make our home what it is – the best place in the world. We take pride in producing quality items that are accessible to all classes, and we take pride in serving and taking care of our customers with a personal touch.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love hoop, so first, we’re forsure getting a couple runs in during the week. We play at the La Jolla Rec Center, so you would probably catch us there. Next, we’re forsure hitting a few taco shops and beaches throughout the week. SD has the best of both. Add in a few hikes and sunset spots, like the Glider Port, maybe a bike ride, and that would be a few good things to base the week around. Good food, basketball/physical activity, and spending time outside, and you can’t go wrong in SD.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are lots of people to thank in the ongoing journey of creating and growing this brand. First of course, is my parents and family who always support my pursuit of passion and entrepreneurship, and aren’t scared to tell me the tough truths I need to hear sometimes. After that, I have to shout out Tyson Youngs. If we never came up with the idea to put on The Sneaks Summer Classic basketball tournament in 2018, I may never have designed a shirt or found my way back into my childhood ambition to design my own clothing. In the community, there are also many people to thank. People who are also following their dreams and passions, and serve as people who I can talk to and look at as inspiration and support. My great friend Austin Martin, who is killing it with his revolutionary educational program “Rhymes With Reason,” Ian Hill who is pursuing his passion in music, and Zairre Wright who shows constant love and has become probably the best photographer I know. Lastly, a big thanks to my friend Khoi Truong from UCSD, who helps me out with Sneaks Clothing Brand. There are a bunch more people to thank, too many to fit in one segment! Every single person who has supported makes a difference and plays a part.