How Jason Created a Sneaker Empire At Just 20

“My sneaker journey started when I was a kid watching a replay of 1996 NBA final game during a school sports lesson. I watched Jordan put in every single ball with his classic fade away and I just couldn’t take my eyes off that pair of Jordans 11 ‘Bred’ he was wearing. That was it, I started researching and dreaming of owning those sneakers — the rest is history.”

— Jason, Co-Owner Levitate Sneakers

Jason, twenty, moved to Australia at the age of 12 with his family from China and spent his days after school lining up for limited edition sneakers, though usually leaving empty handed it sparked an obsession that led to endless hours of research and eventually meeting his now business partner in line.

Today, Levitate Sneakers call Canberra home and are soon expanding to a second location in Perth. Stocking hundreds of different sneakers, including a rare pair from Back To The Future worth more than $50,000! We recently visited Jason at Levitate in Canberra to learn more about how he turned an obsession into a thriving business and what he has learned as a young entrepreneur.

SQ: What made you decide to turn a passion/obsession into a business?

J: Everything started when I was just a regular high school kid lining up in front of the stores trying to score myself a pair of sneakers. Because of the demand and the super limited quantities, I usually come back home empty-handed, but I managed to make friends and met my business partner during this time.

Simultaneously we discovered the huge potential within this market and with years of grinding and a never-changing passion we were able to turn our obsession into a business that we love running each and every day.

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SQ: Where do you source your stock from?

J: It’s all about networking and forming strong relationships. We made lots of friends that have the same obsession with sneakers during line-ups back in the day. We were able to maintain great relationships with them as well as the newcomers in the game. They trusted us and now consign their stock to us.

With dedication and some great opportunities, we have also found suppliers from all over the world including Europe, East Asia, and the USA.

SQ: Why did you set up shop in Canberra?

J: It may be a unique choice with a smaller population of 400,000, but we had a vision for the city. I was here for visiting family and I found the city had great potential and needed something that could help boost the process — here we are.

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SQ: What’s your favourite moment as a business owner?

J: Learning, always learning. I am only 20 years old and driving a business toward success is like sailing a boat in the middle of the ocean. I have been through ups and downs and being able to stay humble and always open to learning how to do things, big or small are my favourite moments in owning a business.

SQ: Best piece of advice you have for fellow business owners/entrepreneurs?

J: Make decisions carefully and always seek statistics and evidence that support your decision.

SQ: What are the coolest pair of sneakers that you own?

J: The coolest pair of sneakers that I have is probably a pair of Jordan 5 “Trophy Room” with only 8000 pairs manufactured worldwide, and every pair has a unique number at the back of the sock liner.

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SQ: Why did you choose Square to power your business?

J: When I was looking for checkout terminals for my store I realised that Square is the only product in the market that has its own developer portal, customisation and integration support that I needed for our unique catalogue.

SQ: What do you see as the future of sneaker culture?

J: Sneaker culture is now part of mainstream culture. Sneakers back in the day were not recognised and the word “sneakerheads” was interpreted incorrectly. Now you see everyone on the streets are wearing Jordans and Dunks, whether they know about the sneaker culture or the history behind the pairs or not. It’s spreading wildly and people are accepting it and it’s becoming a massive trend.

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SQ: Any future plans for Levitate Sneakers?

J: We are expanding! We are coming to Perth and Sydney. We will also be getting exclusive drops of streetwear brands and fashion. Can’t say too much about that, everyone loves surprises. Make sure to follow our social media to receive the latest news!