Indy Like a Local
Who is Carl?
Owner of Kicasso Sneaker Art Bar, a paint-your-own-sneakers business in Broad Ripple.
Are you a native of Indianapolis?
Yes, born and raised in Indianapolis. I graduated from North Central High School.
You once owned The Luxury Sneaker Exchange downtown, and now Kicasso. So, what prompted your interest in sneakers?
I’ve had a love for sneakers since I was a kid. My older brother got a pair of Air Jordan 1s for his 16th birthday. The hype, the anticipation, the look in both of our eyes when my mom pulled that box out – that feeling has never left.
Do you have a favorite pair you own?
Air Jordan 1s will always be my go-to kicks. My favorite pair would be the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Royal.’ The blue-and-black colorway looks good with everything!
What spurred the opening of Kicasso? Do you also have a background or interest in art?
During my reselling days, I would have clients who would inquire about restoration services for some of their most beloved, but aging, sneakers. The entrepreneur in me took on this new craft, but it was boring alone. So, after hours, I would invite friends to come hang out and paint sneakers with me. They would help with prep work and I would handle the painting. The fellowship between my friends and family over sneaker art was amazing. It wasn’t long before these private sneaker-art sessions became a thing. That’s when the lightbulb went off.
I have always had a love for art and the benefits it has on your mind and body. My older brother was the artist in our family growing up. I’ve never considered myself an artist, more of someone willing to give it a shot.
Your bread-and-butter has always been canvas shoes. But now you offer painting of leather sneakers. Why branch out now?
When creating Kicasso, we wanted to make this affordable for all. Canvas sneakers are an affordable sneaker option that we supply with your admission, but I can’t lie, customizing leather sneakers, like Nike AF1s [Air Force 1s] is so fire! I’ve wanted to incorporate this for some time now, but needed to get our canvas sneaker foundation set first, but the wait is over.
What’s nice about having your business in Broad Ripple?
Broad Ripple has an amazing art culture and history. With so many great places to eat, shop, party, or just hang out, you can’t go wrong in Ripple.
Can you share a favorite memory from one of your events, either a public session or private party?
During a recent private event, a homeless gentleman had entered our studio toward the end of class. He was kind and a bit talkative. He wanted to share stories. Some of those stories I could make out, most was gibberish. My guest, a group of trauma nurses, whose Uber had arrived to pick them up, would not leave until they knew that my staff was safe and also that the gentleman was okay. They gathered up all of the catered food and gave it to the gentleman, which he gladly accepted before leaving.
It’s not just about the shoes. It’s the people that put them on that make the difference.
At Kicasso you get to bond, fellowship, and laugh with your friends, family, and coworkers. The shoes are a bonus.
What are some of your favorites around Indy?
Chicken wings at Taste of Innova Wings & Greens, loaded jerk fries at Just Like Sunday, peach cobbler at BlankUS Luxury Lounge, Indy-themed T-shirts at Nap or Nothing, vintage apparel at Naptown Thrift, the waterless pedicure at Medi Pedi Indy, and retro sneakers at Grails.
What are your top suggestions for visitors while they’re in Indy?
Get things started with a dozen yeast doughnuts from Long’s Bakery. Definitely book a session and paint your very own custom pair of shoes at Kicasso Sneaker Art Bar. Make dinner reservations at Mama Carolla’s Old Italian Restaurant.