The JGoods Life
The man and the brand behind custom kicks for Jay-Z, Pharrell and Larry Fitzgerald.
by Abe Schwadron / @abe_squad
Building a brand name in the world of custom kicks isn’t easy. But it helps to have friends in high places. Like, say, Jay-Z.
Jon Goodman started with a simple idea. “I just wanted different shoes than everybody else,” he says. Growing up, Goodman was fascinated by the sneaker obsessions of his older brothers, and had a keen eye for color. He went to college for business, but couldn’t help taking design classes on the side.
Since he can remember, Goodman’s been altering his own kicks to stand out. The first pair he hand-painted were Dunks, changing the Nike Swoosh on the side from red to blue. People noticed. And after posting his work on popular sneaker community NikeTalk, Goodman got requests. He did occasional custom work for minimal coin here and there for sneakerheads that contacted him, but chalked it up as a hobby.
Then, one day in 2004, Vikings running back Michael Bennett walked into Phenom Global, the Minneapolis shoe boutique where Goodman rocked a 9-to-5 job, and noticed the crazy-colored kicks he had on. Bennett inquired about the sneakers, and to Goodman’s shock, offered to pay for a custom creation.
After whipping up two pairs of Air Force Ones in Vikings colors for Bennett, Goodman got a call from rapper Memphis Bleek. Sneaker jealousy was about to work in Goodman’s favor. One thing led to another, and before long, Goodman was creating hand-painted shoes for Jay-Z, Pharrell and Cam’Ron.
Now, Goodman is the brains and the creative behind JGoods, a sneaker customization company available to stars and common folks alike.
Want a pair? JGoods works one-on-one with customers on each order, so you’ll have to take some time to plot out a collaborative design, but the results are worth the wait.
“The craziest pair that I worked on with a customer were the Tokyo Express Dunks,” says Goodman. “I wasn’t sure about all the ideas the guy had, but it turned out great.”
The 1-of-1 sneaker creations range from $300-400 for solid coloring to $1,500 on the high end for something like the Tokyo Express, but on average they run about $800, according to Goodman.
JGoods counts baseball’s Torii Hunter, Prince Fielder and Joe Mauer and football’s Larry Fitzgerald among its customers—all Air Force Ones. And Goodman says the company has recently expanded to on-field kicks, sponsoring cleats for Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks and even working up the spikes that Packers tight end Jermichael Finley donned during his three-touchdown game against the Bears earlier this NFL season.
So when will JGoods break into basketball?
Considering the strict sanctions on NBA shoe deals, seeing a custom pair of JGoods’ Jordans on-court anytime soon seems unlikely. But Goodman says he’s had discussions with Blake Griffin about a collaboration, and hopes to be meeting up with Dwyane Wade for a custom creation session within the next couple months (“probably some retro Jordans”).
Cracking the NBA player market—on or off-court—is atop JGoods’ list of priorities, since its creator is a big-time hoops fan. “I root for the T-Wolves. Yes, we’re still rooting for them over here,” he jokes. Goodman added he’s excited to see Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams and Kevin Love hit the floor under new head coach Rick Adelman, despite the last few “depressing” seasons.
JGoods has kept busy during the lockout, though, bringing in business via its patented sneaker customization, cleaning and restoration kits. Plus, Goodman teaches classes at Phenom Global on sneaker painting during the summer, offering sneakerheads the chance to learn how to create their own classics.
For those not in the Twin Cities area, check out video of JGoods’ painting process on the Fitzgerald exclusives below, and be sure to hit the official site for all the pictures, products and ordering information.