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Meet SoleSavy's Co-Founder & Chief Community Officer: Justin Dusanj

Meet SoleSavy's Co-Founder & Chief Community Officer: Justin Dusanj, SoleSavy

Work meets passion for one of the co-founders of SoleSavy, a company empowering sneaker culture and looking to bring it back to its roots. Justin Dusanj started the company with Dejan Pralica after connecting online six years ago, and the pair are looking to grow the company to become “the Nike of sneaker membership.”

“I've been into sneakers my entire life, so it's never really felt like work,” Justin says. “I fall asleep looking at shoes - it's an obsession. I do other things, but my mind will always be like, ‘What's going on in the shoe world? What am I missing?’ I get FOMO. I think it's what everyone strives for is to turn your passion into your profession. I've been fortunate to do that.”

The SoleSavy mission is to make sneakers accessible and affordable. For Justin, it’s about returning the sneaker industry to what it was like for him growing up.

“It’s becoming next to impossible to buy a pair of shoes that are coveted. There's a major shift in this industry going towards reselling and making money off the industry that we love. Whereas I grew up wearing shoes until they could no longer be worn anymore and never even thinking about the cost of them or how much money they could make if I sold them.”

As a child, Justin’s dad ran a sports store, and he considers himself lucky to have had an early introduction to sneakers and sports apparel. He grew to make sure his look was always on point and matching, and always looking his best.

“My dad always made sure I had the best sneakers on. It was his way of marketing; putting sneakers on his kid and hoping other kids saw it. So I was a walking mannequin for major brands my entire life”

His dad’s store grew to have more than 100 franchises across North America. While Justin was able to benefit from such close access to the sneakers he loved, one of the enduring memories and lessons he learned came when his Dad lost his business.

“For me to see how he persevered after that was super inspiring. It really does motivate me every day, because he literally just put his head down and went back to work and built something entirely new out of something that was totally destroyed. That's something that I'll carry with me every day when we're building SoleSavy.”

Justin is SoleSavy’s Chief Community Officer and believes sneakers have an incredible ability to unite people across cultures and demographics, including on issues such as gender and racial discrimination. They’re seeing encouraging growth in women’s sneakers, and are bringing people together through their shared love of sneakers.

“It's so collective and so powerful with the fundraising we've done for charity initiatives, everyone's willing to help out. People want to speak out, they want to speak their mind and tell each other how they feel. The people, the members, they just rally around that. And it's so powerful.”

The power of the movement SoleSavy is creating comes back to the passion of its members, as well as its staff. For Justin, he’s living a dream he couldn’t even have imagined.

“I can't even carry a conversation about anything besides sneakers, because it drains me. But I could talk about sneakers all day long. That is my true passion. It's in my DNA.”

SoleSavy is hiring, come join the team!

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Get to Know Anna Bediones, SoleSavy's Director of Strategy for Women

Get to Know Anna Bediones, SoleSavy's Director of Strategy for Women

Sneakers are more than just a fashion item for SoleSavy’s new Director of Strategy for Women, Anna Bediones. Anna’s new role with the sneaker community company will be to advocate for the movement of women’s sneakers, and sneakers as an expression of identity. It’s a highly relevant role for Anna, who immigrated from the Philippines to Canada with her family. She says her Dad was an avid basketball fan, and that led her into the world of sneakers from a young age. “A friend of mine did a video with the Toronto Raptors about her Dad and his immigrant experience,” Anna says. “I bawled my eyes out watching it, because that's exactly the experience that we got coming here. We didn't know a lot of people, but basketball was a universal language. So it’s always been at the core of all of my interests or choices, and it was my entry point into sneakers.” Anna says sneakers quickly became part of her cultural identity, along with pop culture icons such as Sporty Spice, Aaliyah and TLC. She started collecting sneakers and got her first job at Footlocker at the age of 16. However, she felt somewhat isolated in the sneaker community because her friends weren’t into sneakers and she didn’t see many other females who were. “I've never had real mentorship, especially from a woman in this space that I wanted to be in. I've met some really great women along the way, but I never really found someone that I wanted to be like because I was always mindful that we had very, very, very different journeys.” It’s that mentorship and relatability that Anna hopes to be able to provide to other women and girls in her new role. By promoting women’s sneakers and the inclusive culture that goes with them, she hopes to be able to encourage females to pursue their sneaker goals. “We talk a lot about having role models that we can look to and promote an awareness of what's possible. For me, when I see another Asian woman who is doing something I've always wanted to do, it's like, ‘Hey, that's really cool that that's possible for someone who looks like me’. That's a big part of the change we can be part of, for women to be able to see themselves beyond the limitations they've been fed in the past.” “It’s about letting the next generation of sneakerheads know that there are so many possibilities within sneakers beyond just owning them. Being a sneaker influencer is a real thing now, working in media, working at your favorite brands, working with your favorite bands without actually having worked there. You have roles as engineers, within design teams, or even doing things like color design, which is a role in itself. We're just helping people discover that they can use their skill sets to create their own path in the future.” Anna likes to go running in her spare time and finds it almost meditative. She says running has also been part of her personal development, as it’s helped her to put less pressure on herself. “I'm a competitive person, and I used to compare myself a lot to past versions of me that were faster and in better shape. And I had to really just let go of all that in the last year and just be like, ‘Okay, you know what, just go outside and go running.’ So if I'm slower today than I was yesterday, that's fine. If I'm not, I had to just teach myself not to care.” The past year has been a big learning experience and an opportunity to recalibrate. She's learning to slow down and find other creative outlets. She co-founded Extra Goodie, a beauty company making clean products and natural skincare. She formed the company with a friend in 2020, looking to help women become inspired and confident in their natural beauty. She says it’s part of a journey she’s also on herself, trying to become more low-maintenance and self-sustaining in her beauty routine. SoleSavy just announced a successful $12.5M Series A funding!

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Meet SoleSavy's Director of Video, Tony Mui

Meet SoleSavy's Director of Video, Tony Mui

Accomplished video creator Tony Mui has joined sneaker company SoleSavy with an eye to building communities with original online content. Tony is a prolific content creator and has been making videos and video memes both professionally and for his personal YouTube channel for around five years. Tony always liked sneakers as a kid growing up but was never able to afford all the ones he wanted. He got into sneakers later on when he got a job, but still remembers being able to get his first pair of good sneakers in junior high. The problem was, the Nikes he liked were half a size too small for him. “As a child, you would lie to your parents just so you could have that certain item that you loved. But every day, those sneakers were pinching my feet, giving me toe cramps. I actually cut a hole on the side of the sneaker right near the pinky toe, just so they were more comfortable and actually fit me.” Tony got into video and film while working in an insurance job soon after graduating college. He didn’t enjoy his job, so started pursuing an entertainment career on the side. He had some success with commercials for Wendy’s and even a major motion picture, which gave him enough encouragement to quit his job and pursue acting full time. “I wasn't really booking as much as I thought I would be. That's when I pivoted into teaching myself how to make my own videos and how to edit myself. I made a couple of viral video memes, and that's when (online media company) Complex reached out to bring me on board to create those video memes for them.” Tony was making 1-2 videos a day for Complex but ended up doing a lot more when he brought his personal camera and started filming at work. He would make videos with his co-workers each day and post them on his YouTube channel. The positive feedback he got from his colleagues encouraged him to keep doing it, but he hadn’t sought the permission of the company to make them. “I kept doing it, knowing there was a chance I could get fired. But I thought, ‘If I get fired today, I'll be alright because of my skill set.’ Little did I know, some of the higher-ups were following me on Twitter, and they were actually watching every single episode. I eventually got called into my boss' office. I go in there thinking ‘I'm in deep, deep trouble’, but he said, ‘Hey, we've been watching everything you've been doing, it's amazing, can you please keep doing it?’” Tony worked for Complex for nearly five years before coming to SoleSavy as Director of Video. He sees a real chance to grow the sneaker community through targeted video content. “There are a lot of big companies out there right now. You have the reselling platforms, you have the sole collectors, you have the hypebeast, you have the Complexes, right? We want to get our names out there as a premium sneaker platform where you can get good quality content related to sneakers.” Tony would love to make a feature film one day or to travel and film once the world allows. He believes it can only be a good thing for the Asian American community to see faces on screen that they can relate to, and hopes to build a following of his own. “I want to make engaging content that is action-packed, and that you will want to watch right from me. When you see it, you know ‘That's Tony’s style right there.'” SoleSavy just announced a successful $12.5M Series A Funding!

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