We recently connected with Sawsun Khodapanah and have shared our conversation below.
Sawsun, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today. Can you talk to us about how you learned to do what you do?
My craft is self-taught and an everyday work in progress. My brand is Sneaks Clothing Brand – a Southern California lifestyle-inspired streetwear brand.We put on the Sneaks Summer Classic annual basketball tournament every summer in San Diego. The brand began in 2017 as a sneaker reselling business “San Diego Sneaks.” In 2018, we hosted the inaugural Sneaks Summer Classic 5v5 basketball tournament/ and community event. I made shirts for the participants of the event. People wanted the shirt, and I took orders and began designing and producing more clothes, effectively marking the conception and foundation of Sneaks Clothing Brand. Throughout the process, most things have been self-taught. In 2017 I worked as a content creator at Wave Sports + Entertainment, where I was given access to the company’s Photoshop subscription. I taught myself how to use the program, building on my foundation of using Microsoft Paint as a kid. Through the process of designing for Sneaks, professionally, and as a freelancer, I have become a better designer year-by-year. I still learn every day.
That being said, hindsight is usually 20/20. My path hasn’t always been perfect, but I have learned a lot and progressed every year I have done this. My goal is consistency, learning from experience, and implementing improvement. I am often my own harshest critic, but when I see memories from 1, 2, 3, 4 years ago I see how much the brand and I have grown. Sometimes when you’re in the grind day in day out it’s hard to appreciate your growth. I try to appreciate my journey while also staying hungry for growth and progression.
Sawsun, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Last question’s answer shares the backstory to the start of my brands. As for myself, I’m San Diego born and raised – I love SD and it has largely shaped my character and my life. Basketball and hip-hop (which also led to a love for sneakers, streetwear and fashion) are large interests of mine that have also shaped my taste and disposition.
I have always been an entrepreneurially-minded person. I am proud that I am creating something that I hope is bigger than myself, and actively working to get a footing as an entrepreneur.
Sneaks Clothing Brand has been worn and purchased by music superstars the likes of Waka Flocka and Diplo, as well as professional athletes like Jamal Agnew (Jacksonville Jaguars), Frank Nitty (Drew League & Big 3), and Gabe Vincent (Miami Heat). We have collaborated with brands and friends like Creamy Boys ice cream and artist Jack Ready. Most importantly, we have a close supporting community that identifies with the San Diego roots of the brand and wears our clothes proudly.
The Sneaks Summer Classic basketball tournament has been held every summer since 2018 and has become an improved product every year, adding more teams, better players, on-site vendors, live entertainment, sponsors, exclusive merch and collaborations, and an environment that draws the community beyond just basketball players. Every year, we have high-level players including collegiate and pro/semi-pro players. Super Bowl XLIV champion Lance Moore played in the 2022 tournament. Every year, the summertime tradition grows, and I can’t wait to see where a few more years will take the tournament.
I am still figuring things out, but I am grateful to have two brands I care about that are opportunities to learn, create something, and grow. Furthermore, I am grateful for the community, mentors, and loved ones who support my work.
Do you think there is something that non-creatives might struggle to understand about your journey as a creative? Maybe you can shed some light?
Often times, people don’t understand the energy and time requirements creating your own path comes with. For many, when they finish their job or duties, the rest of the evening is spent relaxing and enjoying free time. As a creative, my mind is occupied with brand business almost always. Even regular afternoons can be stress or anxiety-inducing if you know there is something you can be doing and you’re not doing. I don’t think a lot of people understand that. That being said , I do find it important to find balance and to enjoy life. I am an extroverted person and I get energy from interaction. Everyone has their own personalities traits and things that make them tick, finding that balance of social life and discipline is important for me.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?
The most rewarding (yet sometimes toughest) aspect of being a creative for me is having the opportunity to create something that people can identify with, support, and represent. Getting a chance to be a part of people’s lives across the world is a humbling and priceless feeling. On the flip side though, putting out creative projects involves putting a piece of your heart out to the world for judgment, and not every project hits. The ones that don’t get received well can hurt. The joy and love that comes from seeing people rock with your work is priceless though and is the biggest reward for me as a creative.
- Website: www.sneaksclothing.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sneaksclothingbrand/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandiegosneaks/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/42764007/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandiegosneaks
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1-bV9jobHFnmJmdIK0PsZg
Photos courtesy of Sneaks Clothing Brand ©