Self-described sneakerhead reveals the heartwarming story behind why she created sneaker expo

Lauren Johnson Image
Friday, June 16, 2023
Shared love turns into huge sneaker convention in Raleigh
Few people know that the Kick Back Sneaker Expo is the product of a shared love between a grandfather and granddaughter.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Kick Back Sneaker Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center will bring thousands of shoe fanatics together. But few of them know that the expo is the product of a shared love between a grandfather and granddaughter.

"I'm very proud of the convention, never imagined something I was this passionate about could turn into something as big as this," Kala Nwachukwu said.

Nwachukwu is a neuroscientist at Duke Hospital by day, but by night she's one of the biggest sneakerheads in North Carolina.

Her love of sneakers started back when she was young and playing basketball. But that love became immortalized in her heart thanks to her grandfather, who bought her and her sister Nike Air Force Ones after they heard Nelly's popular song in the 1990s.

Nwachukwu's grandfather died in 2013 and she designed a sneaker specifically in his honor.

"It was just a way to honor him and our passion that we shared together," she said.

As Nwachukwu's sneaker collection ballooned to as high as 500 pair, her passion also cultivated a community of fellow sneakerheads in the Triangle.

A year after her grandfather's death, she realized the Triangle was missing something.

"There was no real place for people to buy, sell and trade sneakers."

So she created it: The Kick Back Sneaker Expo.

"I wanted to be surrounded by other people who liked what I liked," she said. "It just lets me know (my grandfather is) here and always in the game with me."

This year's Kick Back Sneaker Expo happens Saturday at the Raleigh Convention Center from noon until 5 p.m. There will be more than 100 vendors, a trading floor, and, for the very first time, a live auction.