Exclusive Interview With Jason Markk
All true sneakerheads know there’s a regular time – whether it’s once a week or month – to sit down and clean the kicks rotation. Everyone has their own method and solution, but over the last couple of years, companies like Jason Markk have been able to develop high quality products specifically for kicks. While Jason Markk may be known nationally for their cleaning products, they have an entire different angle of the business operating out of their flagship store in Downtown Los Angeles. There, the company operates a drop-off cleaning service much like a dry cleaner exclusively for kicks. From June 25 – June 30, the company is setting up shop in our store at 22 East 14th Street in Manhattan to bring their signature drop-off service to the East Coast for the first time ever.
We sat down with the man himself, Jason Markk, to discuss the company’s back story, his partnership with Footaction, and some OG sneakerhead topics we had to ask.
Footaction: Tell us about your personal backstory with the company, the founding, and the solution itself
Jason Markk: It was created specifically for cleaning sneakers. I started the company in 2007 and developed the product in 2006. I grew up like any other kid in Southern California: into sports, watching basketball (diehard Lakers fan) and was in to sneakers from a very young age due to the whole basketball thing but also got into hip hop and DJing at age 15.
I started the company for a better cleaning product for sneakers. Before Jason Markk I used to use dishwashing soap, warm water, and a little bit of Oxy-Clean with a toothbrush. There were cleaners on the market but I just felt like it wasn’t anything I could trust and I knew a lot of the sneaker culture felt the same way.
FTA: From your original DIY solution what is in the Original Shoe Cleaning Solution?
JM: The first thing I did when I knew there was a need for a product like this was hire a chemist. I didn’t mix this in my bathtub or anything like that. I just knew the direction and what our needs and concerns were. I sat down [with the chemist] and educated him on the materials that were being used on sneakers – What different grades of suede there were, this is patent leather, this is cotton mesh and told him the concerns. It can’t damage the materials, it has to be versatile. It definitely can’t make the sneakers yellow. We took a look at what was out on the market and with the direction created a brand new formula.
FTA: What’s your relationship with Footaction been like and is that a reason for the brand going national?
JM: We were in big retailers before but Footaction and the Foot Locker family is definitely the largest. The relationship with Footaction has been great. We’ve only been selling for maybe a year or two and here we are sitting in our first ever New York City pop up shop so I think the partner has allowed us to execute our vision and been free with what we wanted to create here in New York. They’ve been really supportive in every aspect.
FTA: Tell us a little about your personal sneaker collection
JM: I don’t consider myself a hardcore collector. There are collectors out there that have thousands of pairs of kicks. I have close to 400 pairs now and I wear every single pair. It’s not like I flip them or keep some on ice. I buy the pairs that I like and I wear them immediately. I’m more into the OG colorways. I’m not too much of a flashy guy. I have my “go-tos” like Air Max 1s, Air Jordan 1s, Air Jordan 3s, basically all the Jordans from 1-12, I’d say.
FTA: What’s your Holy Grail you haven’t tracked down?
JM: I’d probably say the OG Air Jordan 1 ’85. If I could get my hands on those I’d be a happy guy.
FTA: You say you’re a diehard Lakers fans. Are things looking up now? Have you recovered from the Kobe Bryant retirement?
JM: With Walton as coach, I’m excited. It’s great we have a young coach and some young talent. I know it’s going to take some time. We still do need that franchise player to come in post-Kobe. Last year was the worst year I’ve ever experienced but it’s all right, we’ll bounce back.