She’s bold, hip and creative. Elona Jones is a 20-year-old student at Florida A&M who founded Lick My Customz, a custom sneaker business.
This legacy Rattler, and Palm Beach native majors in African-American studies and is now in her junior year. She recalled why she hopped into the world of entrepreneurship long before stepping on The Hill.
“I wanted to be different from everyone else because everyone had the same shoes,” Jones said. “I didn’t feel special, so I started drawing on my own shoes.”
She decided to put her artistic skills to the test during her sophomore year of high school and has been customizing shoes ever since. She quickly began watching tutorial videos and seeking advice from other artists to hone her craft. But it wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she realized she had a true business.
Jones made her first sale during Christmas season of her senior year. It took her by surprise when someone offered to buy the pair of sneakers she’d posted online. It was an experience that pushed her out of her comfort zone and forced her to become a better communicator and influencer.
“I get to connect with different people and talk to different people,” Jones said. “That’s kind of new for me.”
As of now, Jones’ personally customizes every shoe order. In her pocket of tools are an airbrush, a paintbrush and an industrial sewing machine she recently invested in. She plans to use her new sewing machine to reconstruct shoes from the inside out.
Ben Jones, Elona Jones’ brother, admitted he is extremely proud and in awe of the entrepreneur his sister is becoming.
“A lot of people suppress their passions and seeing how passionate she is; she’s so passionate about it and she’s pursuing it and getting things done … it’s inspiring,” he said. “She’s going all in.”
As a fellow entrepreneur, Ben Jones has seen the upside and downside of entrepreneurship. He said he encourages his sister to be consistent more than anything, and to ultimately persevere. He confidently guaranteed, however, even with hardships to come, the two of them will have extremely successful businesses. And with over 13,000 followers on Instagram, Lick My Customz is well on its way.
Carlotta Mitchell, Jones’ aunt, has had a front row seat to her niece’s journey.
“I’ve seen Elona be very gifted with creativity, with designing and customizing shoes when she was in high school,” Mitchell said.
She claimed the reason for Jones’ success will be her passion and dedication to her craft. She said she’s watched her creativity evolve over the years and anticipates her sharing her gift.
“I want to see her strengthen her gift, and then share it with others so that other people can start their business at a young age and not feel like it’s something that can’t be done,” Mitchell said. “I am behind her one hundred percent to help her be successful with the gift God has given her.”
Within the next five years Jones hopes to have created her own shoe silhouette rather than continuing to use Vans, Nikes and Jordan’s. She wants to take her talents to Atlanta. To keep up with Jones and her rising business follow @LickMyCustomz on Instagram.