1. What’s your name, and where are you from? My name is Taja Keasal but I’m better known as T.J. as a nickname. I am originally from Redford, MI just outside of Detroit, MI.
2. How long have you been collecting? I started truly collecting sneakers at age 12 heading into seventh grade in 2001.
3. What inspired you to start collecting? From the time I was a little girl I was never attracted to the stereotypical girl things; I hated bows and anything pink. Sports were everything which meant I looked up to Michael Jordan, Emmitt Smith and most of all Derek Jeter. As a little kid wanting to perform like them meant I wanted the kicks they had on and off the playing fields. Sneakers brought the same excitement to my life as seeing a homerun by Jeter or Jordan flying through the air for a dunk. I felt confident in sneakers as a style of my own, not dressed like every other girl.
4. What’s your favorite pair of sneakers that you own, and why? Wow, this is a difficult question. For lifestyle I would have to say, 2009 Air Jordan XI Space Jam. I was obsessed with Tazmanian Devil from Looney Tunes, so much so that I custom designed my high school varsity jacket with Taz on the back dribbling a basketball and carrying a track baton. The movie Space Jam brought the two worlds of Looney Tunes and basketball together. I was finally able to acquire them earlier this year in April and I’m still excited about it.
5. What grail pair don’t you have and would love to add to your collection? Easy answer, Air Jordan 1 Bred “Banned” GS (because #TeamLittleFeet). The one that started it all and set the tone that Jordan was not there to just play but to make history, even if he had to upset some people.
6. What are your likes and/or dislikes about sneakerhead culture? I actually did an entire video on the top 16 dislikes I have with modern sneakerhead culture (Talks with TJ). I love the connections sneakers allow us to make with others because just as sneakers have stories behind them that make them more than just leather/laces, people have experiences that make them captivating as well. Also, sneakers give us the pure joy that little kids have that we seem to lose as we grow up. Release day is like a new toy on Christmas, except like once or twice a month now as an adult. As far as top dislikes, it is asinine to me that people attach their self-worth in relation to others to their “sneaker count” because we don’t mention the number of sneakers you collected on your obituary. My other top dislike is the adoption of hypebeast as title of pride instead of the reality that it shows a total lack of genuine individuality. Bandwagon and hypebeast used to hold the same level of disgust, not anymore.
7. Is there anything you’d like to see more of in the sneakerhead community? I would love to see more people simply do them, their style, their preference without worrying if it’s a GR or limited shoe, or if it’s a brand dying or on the rise. A little bit of respect is lost by me for people who instantly claim a shoe is a PASS on acquiring simply because it’s available in larger quantities.
8. All “kicks” aside, what are your interests/passions/hobbies outside of sneakers? I am just as passionate about sneakers as I am their original purpose which was being physically active. I train in the gym from lifting, running and calisthenics six days a week. My other passion is educating young people on how important it is to budget their income so they can take care of the essentials of life while also paying down debt and treating themselves without guilt. In 2017, I wrote an eBook, How to Build a Set Budget, and decided to offer it FREE to anyone who requested it. The goal is not for me to profit off of it but from others to profit in their confidence with managing money and being more financially stable while not sacrificing the little things like sneakers. If anyone is interested in my eBook, they can simply email me which is provided on my IG profile @fitjetergirl.