By Mana Wikaire-Lewis of Whakaata Maori
Christian Prescott is only 24 but he has already invented a business and a charity.
He is the founder of Sneaker Clean NZ and Clean for a Cause - putting pre-loved sneakers on the feet of kids in need.
He's had a few jobs, including being a plumber. But Prescott decided there was a need for a professional sneaker cleaning business after working at a Timberland store in the Sylvia Park mall in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Prescott is now has a finalist in the Local section of the Impact Awards.
"The Impact Awards have collected these people to celebrate young Kiwis doing good in the community, so I'm very honoured to be a part of that group," he says.
Working three jobs
Prescott revealed he came up with the idea of a professional sneaker cleaning business because so many people asked about one when he worked in Timberland during his high school years.
"The idea stemmed from a lot of people coming in and asking if there were such services here in New Zealand. I did a bit of research and I figured out that in a lot of other countries there are such services, but not here.
"Me being young and thinking that I could do it, I went out five years ago to start New Zealand's first professional cleaning service."
Prescott revealed he worked three jobs to help build the business. "It isn't easy but I'm still cracking it."
Clean for a Cause came last year – an initiative aimed at providing Kiwi kids and families in need with pre-loved shoes donated by the community.
Pre-loved sneakers rehomed
"Coming out of that big lengthy lockdown that we had last year, I felt like I needed to do something," he says. "People can donate pre-loved sneakers to us, we can professionally clean them, package them in custom sneaker boxes and gift them to rangatahi in need."
After stopping his plumbing mahi, it took 12 weeks from drawing up the plans on the whiteboard to donating 500 pairs of sneakers in December last year. Even more pairs were donated at a sneaker conference last year, with 1500 pairs now shelved behind Prescott and another 500 elsewhere.
"During lockdown and Covid, I guess the impacts and the margins were growing between the haves and have-nots. I'm just trying my best to fill the void and restore some sort of value to the kids."
The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in Wellington on Saturday, July 30 – the same weekend as the Festival for the Future.