ABOVE: Megan Harper, Ronnie Jefferson, David Rodriguez, Owner/Buyer of The Tipping Point and Jarren Small
Kicks & Conversations hosted its second successful forum this past weekend with special guest, Ronnie Jefferson, Senior Vice President General Manager of Finish Line. Kicks & Conversations was created by Jarren Small, Co-Founder of Legends Do Live; an organization that provides opportunities to underserved youth. The fresh and innovative public forum presents dialogue for minorities who hold an interest in sneaker culture to engage with leaders in the sneaker industry.
Having conceptualized the vision for Kicks & Conversations in August 2019, Small first brought the public forum to Prairie View A&M University during Homecoming week on October 15, 2019. Coined “Kicks & Conversations On The Hill,” the Homecoming Edition was moderated by Megan Harper, Account Executive at the Houston Chronicle and panelists included: Aaron Limonthas, Diversity & Inclusion at Adidas; Alan Davis, Account Executive at Puma; Tausha Sanders, Event & Marketing Manager at Sneaker Summit; and Lamar Hall, South Lifestyle Footwear at New Balance. Local custom doormat brand, Kicky Mats also provided an interactive doormat activation.
The first Kicks & Conversations was a tremendous success and was met with so much excitement that Small recalls Ronnie Jefferson, Senior Vice President General Manager of Finish Line reaching out to him personally to inquire on how he could be involved in the next event.
Small explained, “We saw a need because there are so many people involved and impacted by sneaker culture who would like to break into the industry but because there are no majors available in universities and colleges, they typically can’t get recruited by these companies. So we brought representatives down in October from Reebok, New Balance, Adidas, and these are people of color that look like us and are in positions that we often don’t see to help bridge that gap. And it literally just took off. After we did the event at my alma mater, Prairie View, Mr. Jefferson DM’ed me and told me that he wanted to be involved. Initially I was like, ‘Who are you?’ But I went to his page and was like, ‘Wow, he’s the VP of Finish Line. Alright, you can definitely be involved.’ So we spoke on the phone and he told me that he would actually fly himself out to Houston to be a part of the event because he wanted to be involved in the mission.”
On Thursday, January 9, Kicks & Conversations hosted a private sneaker Happy Hour Social at A Ma Maniere, sneaker boutique store. The social allowed sneaker boutique store owners and sneaker community influencers to network and mingle.
On Friday afternoon, Jefferson and Small visited the students of YES Prep High School as guests of Houston-based visual artist and art instructor Kimmiski Art. Kimmiski offered the students of her class as the audience for an in-depth conversation about roles and unique careers within the sneaker industry. Her students also learned the value of entrepreneurship and the necessary steps in turning their passion into purpose.
Lastly, Friday evening during its public forum and main event held at The Tipping Point, sneaker and creative lifestyle boutique, Megan Harper moderated an inspiring and dynamic conversation with Ronnie Jefferson about his career in the sneaker industry. An opportunity for Q&A was presented near the end of the event where Jefferson offered advice on how to impact the sneaker culture.
Both events were sponsored by Jack Daniels US and music was provided by the one and only, DJ Yobi.
It is also worth noting that Kicks & Conversation partnered with A Ma Maniere and The Tipping Point boutique stores, which are both black and brown owned to educate and empower minorities on how to not only be consumers in the sneaker industry, but how to create careers and hold stakes in that industry.
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