Everyone told PMK Customs not to do it. But company founder and CEO Andre Scott had an idea for hip-hop icon Jay-Z that was a slam dunk.
As part owner and face of the Brooklyn Nets, Jay-Z needed a statement for opening night at the team's new home in the Barclays Center. The music mogul had helped orchestrate the Nets move from New Jersey, guided the design of their logo and black-and-white jerseys, and even opened his Rocawear apparel store in the arena.
So when PMK created a wild pair of Nike Air Jordan 1s, clad in nine different animal skins, Jay-Z was a natural fit. The Brooklyn Zoo Jordan 1 is a complete reconstruction of the legendary basketball shoe using the skins of elephant, ostrich, python and stingray (all legally acquired, assures Scott).
"Jay-Z genuinely loved the sneaker and the concept and, of course, the name," he says. In fact, Jay-Z posted a picture of the $2,500 shoes — one of 10 pairs made — on his blog, Life + Times.
Even before the Brooklyn Zoo splash, PMK (Perfectly Made Kicks) had assembled a pretty strong roster of supporters. Jay-Z's friend Emory Jones is a PMK minority partner and Kelton Crenshaw, who has business ties with LeBron James, is also on board. "When it comes to my network, it's really untouchable," Scott says.
In fact, Jay-Z's wife and pop star Beyonce wanted a pair of high-profile kicks, too. PMK just presented the singer with custom Isabel Marants that Scott says are "a female version of the Brooklyn Zoo."
Yet all this may never have been if Scott had followed his original career path. The Cleveland native had planned to join the family funeral home business after earning a degree in mortuary sciences from the University of Cincinnati. But after graduation he landed a job at Southwest Airlines and eventually left to launch PMK. "I always wanted to have my own business," says Scott.
In February, PMK opened a showroom at Villa inside Tower City, which includes a design kiosk where customers can create their own shoe. (It takes about two weeks to get the finished shoes, and prices range from $200 to $600.) These simpler sneakers are custom painted and splashed with a logo of choice.
And the company's PMK Design Labs website allows sneaker-heads to personalize shoes colors, designs and logos.
The Tower City store will give PMK a visible anchor in Cleveland — a place to show off its styles. "Nothing is better than doing things in your own city, and I'm serious about that," Scott says. "I am dedicated to helping bring this city back and creating jobs here."