For more than a decade, Jonathan DiModica ’21 has been in the sneaker business.
He started small. In 2012, at the age of 12, he and a buddy began a venture cleaning shoes. Soon after, DiModica started paying people to wait in line for popular new sneaker releases so he could resell them at a markup.
Then the following year, DiModica and his brother, Joseph, held their first sneaker expo in an old Boston church. Ticket sales were slow initially. “We had no clue what we were doing,” he admits.
Fast forward 10 years. The DiModica brothers now hold packed sneaker conventions across the country. The Instagram account of their company, Got Sole, has more than 500,000 followers, and the brothers hear from fans all over the world clamoring for a convention to be held in their city.
“We see so many people finding out about Got Sole,” says DiModica, the company’s CEO. “It has taken 10 years to be seen as an overnight success.”
Much hard work has led to this moment. Giving a behind-the-scenes look at the sneaker business, DiModica reflects on the marketing and social media, the celebrities and collectors, that have fueled Got Sole’s expansion, which comes as the culture and community surrounding sneakers continues to grow.
“Year over year, it has not slowed down,” DiModica says. “It is growing and growing.”
Attendees at Got Sole events come from all ages and backgrounds, DiModica says. They are united, quite simply, by their love of sneakers and the joy of sharing that passion with others. Such common ground among people of diverse backgrounds is not easy to find.
“In real life, there are not that many ways we resonate with each other,” DiModica says. “I think the reason people love sneakers is it comes down to community.”
To reach that wide-ranging community of sneaker aficionados, or sneakerheads as they’re commonly called, Got Sole leans heavily on marketing. “We are marketing obsessed to be honest with you. We couldn’t be more of a marketing-focused company,” DiModica says. “We think, humbly, that we have the best event marketing in the world.”
As sneakerheads themselves, DiModica and the Got Sole staff know their market and how to communicate with it. “We are our target market. We are the community,” DiModica says. “We don’t have to guess what people will resonate with.”
The main tool in Got Sole’s marketing efforts is social media. It posts 20 times a day across its main channels: Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook. In a typical month, Got Sole will reach 50 million unique users. “We are relentless in our efforts,” DiModica says.
“We are our target market. We are the community. We don’t have to guess what people will resonate with.”
Jonathan DiModica ’21, co-founder of Got Sole
Got Sole will post about new shoes and celebrity appearances at its events. One memorable viral post involved rapper Meek Mill bartering with a seller. “It got posted everywhere,” DiModica says.
Often, Got Sole posts about sneaker deals at its conventions and asks followers to decide who won, the buyer or seller. “We want to be the host of conversation in real life and digitally,” DiModica says.
In the sneaker business today, sneakerheads can shop in a host of places, whether online or in brick-and-mortar stores, so Got Sole wants its conventions to stand out and be unforgettable. “Our blue sky is how can we put on an event that people will remember and care about 10 years from now?” DiModica says
About 5,000 people attend a typical Got Sole convention, which can have close to 500 vendors. The core of the event is the buying, selling, and trading of sneakers, but conventions also feature giveaways, contests, musical performances, and the appearance of celebrity sneakerheads, a more common occurrence in recent years. Former basketball star Dennis Rodman, for instance, appeared at a Chicago convention earlier this year.
The goal is for all attendees to have a memorable experience, even if they’re a parent accompanying their sneakerhead son or daughter. “How do we get someone to come to the event, not buy a pair of shoes, and still have a good time?” DiModica says.
So far, Got Sole has brought its convention to nine cities, from Miami to New York, from Houston to Chicago. More are in the works. With each new stop, Get Sole plans the same indelible experience. “We want to keep it special,” DiModica says.
Posted in Entrepreneurial Leadership