ST. PETERSBURG: Vladimir recalled skateboarding in St. Petersburg as a teenager in the late 1990s. Some kids would add a layer of leather to their sneakers to prevent them from getting worn so quickly. Foreign made sneakers were expensive and hard to come by back then, he recalled. If someone got a pair of the latest sneakers, everyone would know about it. That gave birth to Vladimir's original interest in sneakers. Fifteen years later - and having read Soviet manuals and youtube videos - the 31 year-old is hand making sneakers and shoes in a small shop under the brand name Afour Custom www.afourcustom.ru His advice to young people wanting to start their own business: "be prepared to be your own cleaner, shipper, designer and economist."