Interview with YoaKustoms Shoe Customizer Amanda Yoakum

For our most recent interview we are proud to spread word about YoaKustoms. A rather young customizer just coming up on 1 year in the hobby. In that one year she has learned a lot,  her designs have become more detailed, and she has received national exposure. So check it!

1. Please give your name, age, where you are from and or grew up?

My name is Amanda Yoakum.  I am 25 years old and from good old Basking Ridge, NJ.

2. What, if any, art based education have you had?

I’ve been doing art since I was a small child; I was born with it in my blood. I got my BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in NYC.

3.When did you start and what got you into customizing?

YoaKustoms is just about to have its 1st birthday in April.  I got into customizing because my bf is a sneakerhead, so I customized a pair of kicks for his birthday, he put them up on the forums and they were a huge hit and now here I am. (This design below was that first pair!)


4. Is customizing a full time gig? If not what pays the bills?

I customize full time at least for now anyways, because it definitely takes up most of my time. I also teach fashion illustration/design classes to teens.

5. What is on the horizon for YoaKustoms in 2009 and beyond?

I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing.  My business is building faster and faster each day, and I’m just workin’ to keep up with it.  I’m very excited for the celebration of YK’s one year anniversary and hopefully will have a shindig for that, the usual chips, dips, kicks….

6. Have you learned, gained, or experienced anything significant as a result of customizing?

I’ve learned that you never stop learning, growing, and getting better.  I feel like every pair of YK’s that I do get stronger every time.  My creativity just keeps blossoming and just when I think I’ve nailed my best pair, I have something better around the corner.  It’s just important to be open to all the ideas and people around you, this makes you a stronger artist and person.

7. Where do you get inspiration for designs?

I feel that inspiration is all around us.

8. What are ways you try to spread word of YoaKustoms, or ways in which you market yourself?

Well besides the basics, like my website, myspace, and forums I post on, I am working with someone in PR to help me get my name out there. I also have my supportive friends and family, as well as many magazines and online sites that spread the love about YoaKustoms.

9. Craziest customizing request? I had a customer who wanted images of cock fights and his bird kennel on some dunks.

10. Share any experience you may have had working with a store or company of any kind

I haven’t worked with any stores or companies thus far, I’ve heard kind of mixed reviews on doing that.

11. Do you listen to music while working? If so what’s on your customizing playlist?

Music, I love it all.  I usually just put my ipod on shuffle and let it roar, but I’m a big fan of anything from Kanye West to Otis Reading to Beethoven to Miles Davis, oh and I’m a tad obsessed with David Bowie.

12. Favorite food and beverage?

Fajitas and vodka tonics.

13. If you could have one super power for a day what would it be? And why?

For one day, fly, so I could soar and see the world from above, you learn more when you look at things from a distance rather than right under your nose.

14. If you could pick one movie or TV. show to have been an actor in which one would it be?

Casablanca, enough said.

15. Most memorable or famous customer you have had?

I did a pair of kicks for Matt Bean of Men’s Health magazine for the tv show The Playbook on Spike TV.  It was pretty cool because I got to meet the producer of the show, who was a woman (of a “man’s man” tv show) which was inspiring.

16. What are your Favorite clothing brands or styles?

Well I was a fashion major, so I am guilty as charged for being a bit of a fashionista.  I love Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Dior, just can’t afford any of it…so I stick to Urban Outfitters, Gap, Diesel, and the occasional vintage store.

17. Name a good book you have read?

Million Little Pieces by James Frey

18. Anyone you would like to work with?

Well most dream of collaborating with the big boys like Nike, Adidas, Converse, etc. which would be great, but on a smaller scale I’d love to do a collab with a fellow customizer who wants to bring their best to the table.

19. 10 years from now, where do you see yourself?

Ah I always hate this question, who knows where I will be, but I one thing I can guarantee that I want is to be happy.

20. Any advice for those beginning customizers or those wanting to start customizing?

All the newbies out there, don’t give up, work your asses off, and never sell your creativity short, after all art is a true chance to express yourself.

21. Final thoughts, shoutouts, or news you’d like to share?

Thank you for this killer interview, and a big thanks to all the support I’ve had over the last year.  I have more in the works and this is just the beginning for YoaKustoms.

Now you know the story behind YoaKustoms. Like we have said before your work can be amazing but if the name behind it is nothing people can remember, then having amazing work will be as far as you get. Next time you see an egg you’ll likely think of YoaKustoms and who knows how that thought could benefit Amanda’s customizing. Big thanks to Amanda for her time and reponses! If you’d like to have your own pair of YoaKustoms visit her website:

Host Matt Bean holding his Playbook Kicks.