Charlotte, North Carolina - Growing up in war torn Liberia, Baimba Adams Manobah had a penchant for sneakers and he has now transformed that into a business. Baimba, as he is affectionately called, opened his online store Monday.
The latest releases of Adidas, Nike and Jordana re on display on his Instagram page. But it has not been an easy effort, beginning with a dram from childhood.
“It’s been a long time coming with the help of God,” he says. I’ve been dreaming since elementary school when my dad sent my first Air Jordan 1s from the US and that was all I had.”
Young Baimba would then clean his only pair of Jordan to make sure it represented with his spic and span look for classes at the Seventh Day Adventist School on Camp Johnson Road.
“At that young age, I cleaned it up every day for school,” he laughed, reminiscing the days when owning a pair of high price Nike or Jordan was a luxury back home.
In a Q&A with FrontPageAfrica he explained where it all started:
FrontPageAfrica: What was the dream behind opening your online sneaker store—your love for sneakers?
Baimba: “It’s been a long time coming with the help of God. I have been dreaming since elementary school when my dad sent my first Air Jordan 1s from the US and that was all I had. At that young age, I cleaned it up every day for school, lol.
The process of getting shoes from the US to Lib was difficult; but when I came to the US in 2014, I jumped right back in to keeping my feet clean with all the new releases every week.
I finally told myself if I know how to get them new releases for myself all the time, why not do it for others started building all this up in like a year and yesterday I came to some sneaker showcase (Sneakercon) in Charlotte [North Carolina] and I got to see young people living their dream and I was again motivated to kick this off.
FPA: You're known to be a basketballer—has moving to America killed your dream of being in the NBA or your dream shifted to the sneaker business since there are many ways to be successful. This hasn't been easy, of course. What were the obstacles, challenges and stumbling blocks you faced before overcoming?
Baimba: First of all, basketball and sneakers are kind of hand in hand and that’s one way I started to know more about sneakers by playing in them. For coming over here and not playing basketball is another story I don't want talk about right now bro.
FPA: How about the challenges? Your business spirit--where did it come from?
Baimba: Challenges—starting a new business first of all is very challenging due to the fact you got to deal with competitors and getting customers and also making your customers to believe you're legit and authentic but for the business spirit, my parents been business people since I was a child. So I think business spirit runs in the family.
FPA: I can tell, especially from your mom. Is it fair to say that it came particularly from her?
Baimba: Yea, yea.
FPA: Also, what has the reception been since you announced the launch of the business? Has it gone beyond liking and commenting on social media to people putting in their orders for the latest collection?
Baimba: It's actually way better than I thought but actual sales starts tomorrow [yesterday] so let’s see how the first day will go.
FPA: Hmmm, ok but there are those who go America but don't make something better of their lives, how does this inspire them? Also, will this business interfere with your schooling? What are you studying at which university?
Baimba: America can make you or break you on your self-esteem and being a young man, starting a business should make people understand everybody can do better. I'm a computer information system major and minor business administration at Concord University (senior year) this spring. The business will not interfere with my school but help me understand how the real world works.
FPA: So, tell us about your childhood? How was it like growing up in a country torn by war and the lack of opportunities thereof.
Baimba: Bro yourself can answer that question. God always been there for my family and provides the best opportunity for us. I believe my life in Liberia was what God had for me, I'm not going to sit here and say if I was born out of Liberia, it would have been better. I believe everything happens for a good reason.
FPA: Buying things online and wanting to send it to Liberia can be difficult, will you be able to ship to your home country?
Baimba: Old, young, male, female everybody. You will have to pay for your own shipping to Liberia or we can always find someone going home.
FPA: What other last word you want to add?
Baimba: Anything is possible when you put God first. Lot of things I never thought myself could happen.