A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Derek Curry has a boundless, good-natured enthusiasm about him that you don’t find in most people. Chances are it’s because he loves what he does for a living. A lifelong sneaker fanatic, Curry invested all the money he had saved eight years ago and opened sneaker and streetwear boutique Sneaker Politics in his hometown. His parents thought he was crazy, but who’s laughing now? Today, Sneaker Politics has locations in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, in addition to the original store, and Curry has plans to open up two more boutiques that will carry upscale footwear and apparel, including his own line of Sneaker Politics gear and collaborative products. We caught up with him to talk about his personal style, inspirations, and plans for the future.

Interview by Sarah Ravits (@ravlove)
Photography by Daymon Gardner (@daymongardner)

How would you describe your everyday style?
Get out of bed and wear it. I like to wear gym clothes—we all do. All my employees do. Sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats. People walk into the store and look to us to see what they want to dress like. A lot of kids are highly influenced by the way we look.

What are some things you can’t live without?
I wear a hat every day of my life. Another thing, of course is sneakers. I own about 250-300 pairs of shoes. My girlfriend and I are building a new house now and the closet is bigger than our bedroom.

Walk us through your morning routine.
I wake up around 6:20 a.m. and bring the kids [sons, age 14 and 15] to school. After that I get home, shower, shave, pop espresso, and go to the gym. Sometimes I work out of the house, and I’ll be home all day answering emails and stuff. I get my hair trimmed about once a week. I’m not exactly bald, but I started to lose my hair when I was about 20––game over!

What’s your daily grooming routine look like?
I first started shaving when I noticed a little dark hair growing in on my face as a teenager. I was so pumped that I made my mom go to the store and buy me a razor and shaving cream that day. I spent about an hour in the bathroom shaving my face over and over. These days, I shave to get my day going. It sets the tone for a successful day. And I have to since the hair grows quickly, and I have really sensitive skin. I always throw on some music to wake me up while I shave. It makes me feel alive and ready to take on the day.

What inspires you?
My kids inspire me. My girlfriend inspires me. I have five solid guys who work for me, and they inspire me every day. They come up with new ideas and new things; they get me excited to work and strive and do different things. And Michael Jordan, of course.

How would you define success?
I would describe it as being able to go through day-to-day life and make enough money to do things that make you happy. And to me, happiness is about making other people happy. I thrive off it. My passion started off as sneakers and now I just love making people happy. A kid saves up all week and he comes in and gets his new sneakers and he gets so excited. That’s what makes me happy.

What’s your secret to success?
I love what I do. When you do what you love to do, it’s not work. I wake up sometimes at three in the morning and do work—or what people call work. I picked something that I love to do, so I do it nonstop.

Who do you consider to be a mentor?
Deon Point. He runs a shop (Concepts) just like mine in Boston and he’s the one who got me into the business. He would stay on the phone with me until four in the morning. I see him five times a year now, and we vacation together. He’s the one who put me in this business.

Lastly, what’s unique about New Orleans’ style?
People travel from everywhere just to see all the character here. In New Orleans, you can get this old awesome building as your storefront; other places you’ll have a generic building with sheetrock. People are happy here. It’s like no other place in the world. Down here you can walk down any block and have fun with anyone.