Jose Toro
Staff Writer

Many of us have our own interpretations of life outside of California and the amazing cities that it has to offer; for example, Paris is symbolic with love to some, and New York is the city of ambition and corporate industry to others. Before you wander in your imagination to discover the other parts of the world, reflect on this question: what is the city of L.A. symbolic of? Is it rainbows and sunshine, wealth and social hierarchy, attractive men and women surrounded by the likes of palm trees?

Others may symbolize the city of angels as a state where two different shades of red and blue exist. Or, they see a state where the best artists along with collegiate and professional athletes are produced on the historical streets. They see a city where walls can’t talk but show detailed portraits, and where poverty’s paradise is at harm from gentrification and fear.

Through different perspectives, one fact is true about the city of angels: sneakers surround all types or styles of living. The same is true for Whittier, a city where its Boulevard can see both a Tesla from the wealth grown in Friendly Hills down to the historic city of East L.A., where ’69 Impalas and Mustangs are common.

In a section of the world where our shoes tell a story, Whittier has lacked a significant part of L.A. culture and a lifestyle that can trigger the creation of any autobiography. As of Feb. 25, one store is ready to take on the role of the L.A. culture and represent it as longtime Whittier residents.

Welcome to Day Dream Kicks & Customs.

As you enter a world filled with limited and customizable items, you embark on the journey of two ambitious men who are ready to promote the L.A. culture through sneakers and streetwear.

First is experienced entrepreneur Jacob Almaraz, a man built on family and active income. Almaraz is not new when it comes to creating a business for loved ones and the city. Grind Time Facilities was inspired by training his younger siblings. Through fitness and nutrition, Grind Time Facilities provides help and guidance to athletes and individuals of all ages get in shape, but more so teach the importance of discipline and hard work. As a former football athlete, Almaraz knows the importance of strength training along with the endless possibilities that high school sports can bring. Through talks in the gym with a former high school athlete, another business opportunity was in the making.

That former high school athlete is seen as an artist by customers and is co owner of Day Dream Kicks & Customs. Matthew Bustamante, better known as Busta, is a young entrepreneur who specializes in product demand for sneakers and is able to cut, sow, emboss, paint, and resurrect any sneaker.

Having the opportunity to interact with the both business partners right before the opening day, great value was caught just by viewing the snip of their sneaker inventory.

Every square inch of Day Dream Kicks & Customs is detailed for a specific reason. The tiles are gray with flakes, replicating the iconic cement print that can be found on Jordan 3s and 4s. Velvet seating is spread throughout the building, symbolizing royalty and matching the colors of Whittier College. The wood shelving planted on the wall shows the luxurious mindset that Busta and Almaraz have for Day Dream Kicks & Customs.

With Almaraz staying on alert with inventory and promotion, and Busta having a Buscomposed posture throughout the question and answer session, a bond of brotherhood is easily detectable. The future of L.A. culture in Whittier is in great hands.

Who came up with the idea of opening a store? What was the purpose in doing so?

Busta: “It was both of our ideas, to be honest. We were in the gym together and just talked about the idea of opening a sneakers store in Whittier. The nearest shoe store for Jordans and Yeezys are 20-plus minutes away, and there is such a high demand for certain shoe models that opening a store was the answer.

“As far as our purpose, we are all about the experience. High-end sneakers today are primarily focused in Los Angeles, and not many people here in Whittier have the ability to be part of the culture that these Jordans and Yeezys provide. In all, we wanted to bring the idea of sneaker culture and L.A. here at home.”

What was the process in opening up Day Dream Kicks & Customs?

Almaraz: “I first opened up my gym, Grind Time Facilities, because that was what I studied in college and because it gave me the opportunity to train my siblings. I saw my gym grow as I saw more clients from all age groups attend, so great revenue was there. After my first company, I helped start up another project with a family member in creating a taco business, Dos Primos Tacos, and it now led me to create a high-end sneaker business with Busta.

“When you meet someone who has the same passion and motivation as you and has interests in the same niches as you, you want to invest your time and money into people like that. Busta is exactly that.”

What was the inspiration behind the name Day Dream Kicks & Customs?

Busta: “Honestly, I was in class one day during college day dreaming about sneakers and how I can customize them. The name may seem like just another company, but it does hold value. Those times where I dozed off in class thinking about shoes led to me dropping out of community college and allowed me to follow my dream and passion which is buying, selling, and customizing sneakers.”

You buy, sell, and trade; however, you and your co-owner do something unique that separates you from other sneaker shops. Could you explain what that is?

Busta: “Yeah, so as you can tell in the company name, we do buy and sell, but also customize shoes. I took a course with the Shoe Surgeon to learn the ins and outs of creating and customizing sneakers with certain fabrics and cuts. With that course, I had the opportunity to have my custom sneaker sold to the public in limited quantities; 99 percent of the population are unable to have that type of experience.

“With the knowledge and experience in this specific field, our store will soon offer reserved classes to the public twice a week and pricing is still being decided. The goal is to have certain classes for certain occasions like couples night and beginner classes.”

Was there a reason for picking this specific location?

Almaraz: “It was simple: we’re on [Whittier] Boulevard. We had the choice between this location and one in Uptown, but there is just something about being on Whittier Boulevard as a store owner as you see thousands of people pass by to get to work, school, or practice.”

5 years from now, where do you see the vision of this company?  More individual stores? Expansion of this one store into more units?

Almaraz: “We will probably just add on to this store. Saying that, though, we do plan to add on more events in the future like a barbershop, tattoo shop, etcetera.

“With the scarcity of sneakers in today’s market, the difficulty to represent stories through our kicks becomes more difficult than ever. Day Dream Kicks & Customs is changing that. With no plans on expanding, the exclusivity of having high-end sneakers in a high middle class city like Whittier shows how passionate these hometown entrepreneurs care. High schoolers, college students, and adults now have access to purchase high-end sneakers that were once dreamed about.”

For classes on sneaker customization, be sure to visit the store and ask for more details.

Featured Image: Courtesy of @DayDreamCustoms on Instagram

  1. joe
    March 20, 2022

    Nice job, Jose!

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