In the mid-2000s, sneaker-care products weren’t a thing. If collectors and aficionados wanted to keep their trainers looking boxfresh, they had to explore DIY methods, such as creating their own cleaning solutions from everyday household substances.
Jason Mark Angsuvarn was one such fanatic, and he spent a fair amount of time experimenting before deciding that enough was enough: the sneaker market needed a dedicated cleaning product. So he raised some capital, consulted a chemist and got to work.
Nowadays, his brand Jason Markk is the go-to name for sneaker maintenance (and sneaker resurrection, for that matter) – with a wide array of specialist cleaning solutions and tools.
As a longtime stockist and an even longer-time fan of the brand, we got in touch with Jason to ask him a few questions about footwear, running a business and planning for the future.
So, Jason, when did you first get into sneakers, and what was the first pair you bought with your own money?
I started really getting into sneakers around my senior year in high school. The first pair I bought for myself was the Nike AM1 OG (retro red/white/grey) in 1999.
How many pairs do you have now?
A few hundred, I’d say.
What’s your all-time favourite colourway, and why?
It would have to be between the AM1 OG in red/white/grey and the AM97 ‘Silver Bullets’.
Both colorways and models are so timeless and absolutely perfect. No matter how you rock them, both are undeniable.
Since you started out in 2007, your business has expanded from a one-man bedroom operation to a worldwide brand with tens of staff. What’s been the biggest challenge for you?
There’s always a lesson to be learned when you’re faced with a challenge. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in these first 13 years is how to grow responsibly. Explosive growth is a great problem if you are ready for it.
Which other businesspeople have you drawn inspiration from? Any books you’d recommend for other self-starters?
[Nike co-founder] Phil Knight’s story is incredible and truly inspiring. Read his book Shoe Dog if you haven’t already.
You’ve spoken before about the trial and error that comes with developing shoe-cleaning products. So, in the early days especially, you must have ruined a good few pairs of prized shoes! Do any of them haunt you?
Yea I sure did ruin a few great pairs, but I knew it wasn’t for nothing.
If I’m going to put a product out and stand by it, you better believe I’m testing on my own pairs.
You have flagship stores in Los Angeles and London, both of which offer specialist shoe-care services. Have any famous faces ever dropped by?
We have our regular celeb clientele. You can always tell when it’s a celeb’s shoes when an assistant shows up with luggage full of heat – more times than not, all designer.
How have you been coping, both professionally and personally, during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Personally, I’ve just been taking it one day at a time, and taking advantage of the quality time with my wife and kids. Making sure we keep things as positive and fun as possible.
Professionally, we’re there for one another. We’re a tough bunch that has a lot of heart and fight.
What’s next for the Jason Markk brand?
Continuous innovation. Continuous improvement. Continuous growth. Plus a few fun projects, of course.
Finally, what would be your five ‘Desert Island Kicks’?
- Nike – Air Max 97 (Silver Bullet)
- Nike – Air Jordan 1 1994 (Chicago)
- Nike – Air Max 1 OG (red/white/grey)
- Converse – Chuck 70
- Hoka One One – Hopara
And while we’re at it, as we know you’re a music-lover, what would be your five Desert Island DISCS?
- “Diamond Life” by Sade
- “Doggystyle” by Snoop Dogg
- “Black Byrd” by Donald Byrd
- “Legend” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
- “Donuts” by J Dilla