The Sneaker Don, he has the reputation as one of the top resellers in the country, dealing high-end sneakers to and Instagramming with professional athletes and rappers such as French Montana, DJ Khaled, and even P. Diddy. Kapelushnik also sells to the general public through his website, and says he has an inventory of close to 5,000 pairs.
Benjamin’s gained quite the reputation online as a reseller, showing off bundles of sneakers, such as the adidas Yeezy Boost, and for rubbing shoulders with A-list celebrities, who are typically years older and often literal shoulders above him. But you wouldn’t know this from meeting him in person. He’s just excited to be in the office of a magazine that he regularly reads.
Like many kids his age, Benjamin’s love for sneakers started young. “I came home one day in fifth grade, and my mom went to the mall and she bought the ‘Galaxy’ LeBrons and Kobes. I didn’t know anything about sneakers,” Benjamin says. “I wore them to school and everyone was going crazy. Then I started gradually liking sneakers more.”
Kapelushnik says that when everyone in his middle school in Miami, FL., started getting into sneakers in seventh or eighth grade, he didn’t understand the hype. Eventually his mother bought him a pair of Nike NKE -0.65% LeBron 9 “Galaxies,” which a classmate offered to buy off him. He asked his mother to buy him another pair, and then sold both, using the cash to buy more sneakers.
Then I started to catch on to it,” he says. “I started to buy the cool sneakers—they were kids’ sizes, but I was a kid’s size back then. And then, all of a sudden I started selling them. I would camp out with my friends for the SB [Nike Skateboarding] releases in eighth grade. Then I would just pay people to camp out for me in ninth grade.”
Soon, Kapelushnik started selling online; he opened his own page on BigCartel, a platform that helps people sell their products, that held only five pairs, and moved on from there. He built connections with footwear stores and online retailers, which allowed him to get the most sought-after pairs in bulk. Declining to go into detail about who his suppliers are or how he got in contact with them, he begrudgingly says that he has some of the best connections in the business.
Then the high-profile customers started rolling in. “And people started—mainly rappers started—hitting me up on Instagram DM and stuff like that,” Kapelushnik says. “I got promotions from them and then it started blowing up.”
The Sneaker Don’s motto is “Business is Boomin’”—and he’s not lying. The high school senior boasts four full-time employees, and a business that pulls in as much as thousands of dollars per day. That figure isn’t so implausible after browsing his site: more than thirty models on SneakerDon.com are priced upwards of $1,000. Kanye West’s Air Yeezy 2 “Red Octobers” will run you more than $5,000, and the Nike Air Mags, modeled after the Michael J. Fox’s futuristic high-tops in Back to the Future, are priced at $10,000.
The teen won’t disclose revenues, but Josh Luber, the sneaker data expert behind StockX, the sneaker buying and selling site that tracks secondary market and even features a Nike Index, says that resellers of Kapelushnik’s caliber could reasonably earn “$200,000 or $300,000 per year” in income.
Kapelushnik’s stories are colorful; he claims to have profited upwards of $10,000 from a single trade. He bought one pair of Eminem x Carhartt x Air Jordan IV’s, which never made it to retail, for about $12,000 and sold them for upwards of $20,000.
Kapelushnik with rapper Future
Despite his sizeable success and even bigger plans to get into movies, TV and “big sneaker things,” the young entrepreneur is still planning on going to college. Yale is his first choice.
“I want to do business and marketing, and I think I could grow a lot more by learning that in college,” Kapelushnik says. “I do have a head start, but imagine having a head start and then being able to go forward even more.”
He is not concerned about running his business remotely from college—whatever his full-time staff in Miami can’t do, he can take care of from his computer.
In the long-term, the Sneaker Don plans to transition into other businesses, but says that he’ll keep trading sneakers because it is a passion. He claims his personal collection is worth upwards of $50,000, and he has expensive taste. Some of his favorite models are his Christian Louboutin Spikes and his Louis Vuitton Patchworks.
“I have a hundred pairs on the regular, you always have to have a hundred.”