KAZAN: ''Small business is growing quickly now despite the absurdities in the sphere and the huge amount of barriers to starting a business in Russia,’’ said Leonid, 24. Barbershops, street food, extreme sport, tattoo salons and streetwear are among the most popular small businesses nowadays, he said. Leonid plans to give small business a shot as well. His EWOS - Experiments With Our Sneakers - will aim to customize popular footwear to serve youth looking to standout from the crowd. Leonid, who currently works for a clothing retailer says there are many ''sneaker heads'' in Russia and an underground community of youth that already customize their footwear at home. Leonid said such fashion trends come quicker now to smaller Russian cities thanks to the Internet and greater access to information. ‘’While Russian provinces were far behind Europe in terms of style years ago, I don’t see such a large difference now.’’ He plans to launch his business shortly and has already found people to custom design the footwear. Sneakers have become more acceptable as a fashion statement in Russia over the past few years.
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."