Krish Gandhi buys, refurbishes and resells sneakers like Yeezys and Jordans under his online brand Carolina Kickz
By Caitlyn Yaede | Photo by John Michael Simpson
To many, shoes are just another part of our wardrobe. But for 15-year-old Krish Gandhi, shoes are a passion turned successful online business.
The Chapel Hill High School 10th grader buys, refurbishes and resells sneakers under his online brand Carolina Kickz (@_carolina.kickz_ on Instagram). Krish got his start in November 2019, but says the business really took off during the pandemic.
It all began on YouTube, where he began watching videos about sneakers, how to sell them and what types are popular. Inspired, Krish bought his first pairs from Ross or Marshalls – shoes such as Nike Air Maxes – and resold them for a profit. He then moved on to more in-demand kicks, like Yeezys and Jordans, which were easier to market and sell.
Now, Krish buys shoes from Instagram and eBay, where people are trying to off-load their used kicks. These are cheaper and relatively easy to fix up. With a profit margin of only $20 to $40 per pair, he says it’s important to keep a large inventory.
Krish operates out of his Lake Hogan Farms bathroom, where he scrubs laces clean over the sink, uses a kit to remove scuffs and treats yellow soles with “sole sauce” and a UV light for two to three sessions of 24 hours.
He balances a rigorous school schedule, which includes his favorite classes of Advanced Placement world history, civics and entrepreneurship, with baseball practice – he plays second base for the CHHS team. Krish tries to get all of his homework and studying done at school, so he can focus on Carolina Kickz at home.
As a member of his school’s chapter of Future Business Leaders of America, as well as a participant in the Young Founders Institute, Krish spends a lot of time around his business-minded peers. Last summer, during the latter’s program for young and aspiring entrepreneurs, he was mentored by executive director Will Henry. “It’s just a really good way to get to know other teen entrepreneurs and get really good ideas about your business,” Krish says of the program he hopes to participate in again this summer.
Another big takeaway from the Young Founders Institute was thinking long term. “There’s so much more than my current business I can grow it into. And there’s so many more expenses that will come up in the future, because right now, I’m 15 [and] living with my whole family. If I start an official LLC, it’s just going to be a lot [more] complicated, but now, I’m a lot more prepared for it, thanks to the camp.”
His mother, Deepika Gandhi, an entrepreneur herself, has also been incredibly influential in Krish’s decision to start selling shoes. “Throughout my childhood, I’ve always seen my mom work hard in her business, and I guess I’ve just taken that same kind of motivation and hard work that she does and put it into mine,” he says. His mom actually provided the catalyst for Carolina Kickz, giving him his first pair of Jordans. Krish says he wanted to look like someone who knows shoes, and this pair helped him start that journey. Though they don’t fit anymore, those Jordans have sentimental value and it’s the one pair he’d never sell.
Krish’s favorite part of his business are the relationships he has formed in the community of resellers online. He keeps up to date with the sneaker resale community on YouTube, finding new business ideas and motivation. Now, his sales span across Instagram, eBay, Poshmark and Mercari, with the first two being where most of his sales happen. “I just feel more confident when I feel like I have a better pair of sneakers on my feet. It’s really fun to work with something that I really am passionate about,” he says.
And that hard work pays off. Krish says his biggest success was on a pair from the Pharrell Williams x Adidas collaboration that he bought for $25 on Instagram. He was able to resell the shoes for $150.
To those looking to resell items in their own closet, Krish says you can start anywhere – everyone has something that they don’t use. For the right price and posted in the right places, it will eventually sell and you can start growing capital for your own online business.
As for Krish, he’s unsure where his entrepreneurship journey will take him next. After high school, he plans to study business. Beyond that, all he knows is he’ll be sporting more cool kicks.