Vantrell “Krispy” Erving, 26, is no stranger to the grind. As CEO and founder of Say It Ain’t Krispy (SIAK), the rising entrepreneur and mastermind behind the 2018 fashion movement “Ancient Krispy Secret” stays focused in his “lab” creating the next sneaker sensation and enlisting jaw-dropping collaborations for Flint and his following in Beecher.
On Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, thousands of followers are tapped in to see new pairs of custom-designed shoes, forward-thinking fashion trends, unique videos and behind-the-scenes footage with Flint artists and businesses. Erving's finesse in refurbishing and producing tailor-made designs on shoes and clothes for clients has earned him multiple features in The Hub Flint, an article on ABC12, and on a billboard in downtown Flint.
“I really didn’t like working for people,” he says leaning forward in the chair dressed in his clothing brand — SIAK The Brand. “I didn’t like it when my [bosses] would watch me to do work. That and from where I come from it’s hard to always buy a new pair of shoes, so I decided to go my own route.”
So, he launched Say It Ain’t Krispy in 2014, a name inspired by Black culture for how good something looks, and how confidentSay It Ain't Krispy's business logo, which Vantrell Erving created in 2014 in an effort to become his own boss and help the community save money on sneakers. he is you’ll love the finished product.
SIAK started as a shoe repair business but has now transformed. Utilizing skills learned from research projects at Beecher High School and his photography degree from Mott Community College, along with trial and error, Erving created and documented the labor-intensive process of recreating custom classics. He took to Instagram and the positive response was immediate. His post struck gold, and before he knew it, he had a hit on his hands as buyers poured in. It was then Erving decided to devote every day to his goal of becoming his own boss, until an accident broke his phone, derailed everything, but surprisingly turned SIAK in a multifaceted operation.
“When that phone broke, I was forced to use my camera to shoot my content and it was hard to get it to my phone to be able to post,” he says, shaking his head full of dreadlocks. “My core following was [on Instagram], but with Facebook, it created a whole new type of [audience].”
There is Say It Ain’t Krispy Shoe Repair & Customs, which focuses on the cleaning and refurbishing of old shoes, and designing custom styles for them. VanTheMan Photography was established in 2016, which provides photography and videography marketing for his business and has produced content for Flint rap artists and up-and-coming businesses.
Then there’s SIAK The Brand, a fashion line that currently features T-shirts, hoodies, and hats. It was established in early 2018 after a client asked for a way to promote SIAK out of state. Since March 2018, SIAK The Brand has seen Erving team up with Flint fashion brand KALM Clothing to design a custom sneaker and participate in fashion shows with his “Ancient Krispy Secret” line of clothing.
“I'm showing that you can have a vision in your mind, do whatever it takes to bring it out, and it can take you places,” he says with a smile. “You don't have to do the things that other people do to attain success, to attain being rich, to attain happiness.”
Getting to this point wasn’t without its moments. Running a business alone took a toll and hard lessons were learned. To grow and expand Say It Ain’t Krispy, he sacrificed time with family, friends, and relationships. Then unexpectedly in 2018 his father, an avid supporter of SIAK and motivator to Erving, passed away. The loss was devastating. But through determination and an outpouring of community support, he channeled his grief to create a “Fly High Van” T-shirt in memory of his father to help raise funds for his family.
Erving's desire to grow and achieve his dreams have catapulted him into success as orders are placed and shipped out across Beecher, Flint, and around the country. Now, in 2020 Erving and Say It Ain’t Krispy are looking to build a team to help expand further. There are multiple collaborations in store, new merchandise being created, and a desire to travel and promote SIAK in a greater capacity. When asked after everything that’s happened: success, numerous mistakes, and the loss of his father: How does he continue to go on? He credits his belief in something greater and the love and support he’s received.
“I really pray and ask God, the Universe for what I really want. A lot of stuff happens and you gotta keep going because at the end of the day, just because this happened, doesn't mean the world’s going to stop, you know what I'm saying? You just got to keep going and keep the faith.”
To place a shoe repair or clothing order or to find out more information, you can follow him on Facebook at Vantrell Krispy Erving, SayItAintKrispy or on Instagram at SayItAintKrispy.