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HAMMOCK: Custom socks a hit for Dacula grad, GGC student

Dacula grad Kendrick Dazilma, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, has created a thriving business, KD Kustoms, which is built on customizing Nike Elite socks.

Dacula grad Kendrick Dazilma, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, has created a thriving business, KD Kustoms, which is built on customizing Nike Elite socks.

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Gwinnett-based KD Kustoms, founded and operated by Dacula grad Kendrick Dazilma, personalizes Nike Elite socks for teams and individuals. (Special photo)

Kendrick Dazilma’s eureka moment happened at work, as he manned the floor at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

As customer after customer passed, the 2008 Dacula graduate noticed the masses wearing and buying the popular Nike Elite basketball socks and the enterprising Georgia Gwinnett College student saw opportunity. What if he found a way to add custom designs to those socks?

He made that his mission.

“At that time, it was fresh off the summer Olympics and Nike Elite socks were the big deal,” the 22-year-old said. “I saw how crazy people were over the Olympic socks.”

Dazilma tinkered with that style of Nike socks, did his own Internet research and perfected his craft, thanks to an eye for graphic design. He invested his Dick’s paychecks, dumping them directly back to the store with his bulk purchases of Nike Elite socks, and showcased his designs online.

That led to a few Gwinnett players wearing his socks and it set up his big break, courtesy of Norcross boys basketball coach Jesse McMillan.

McMillan discovered Dazilma’s company, KD Kustoms, on Twitter and then checked out his website — directed to both by the college student’s Instagram and other social media marketing pushes. The successful Norcross coach wanted to surprise his players with custom Nike socks, which he unveiled at the Blue Devils’ annual Hilton Invitational for an opening night matchup with Maryland power DeMatha.

The new socks gave the players a lift and it gave KD Kustoms a boost, too — the page-view average on its website jumped from 46 to 500 in the matter of a day.

“Kendrick came into the locker room prior to the game and he presented the team with the socks,” McMillan said. “You would have thought it was Christmas. The guys were extremely excited because they had no idea what we had done. It sounds silly, but I honestly believe getting those socks prior to the game gave the guys a little extra juice for that game and we played very well that night. After that, our entire team wore the socks for the rest of our season run.”

That season run saw Dazilma’s socks on the state championship podium, not just once, but three times. The Norcross boys and girls teams, as well as the Miller Grove boys, wore his custom designs all the way to state titles. Other high school teams, and a few colleges, followed Norcross’ lead and ordered from KD Kustoms. Others ordered individual designs. One player had his face emblazoned on the socks.

“I guess it’s now kind of a household name with the players in Gwinnett,” said Dazilma, who stays in touch with his main client base, high school basketball players, via Twitter. “Word of mouth is the best marketing you can get.”

Business has boomed this year with the help of those relationships and has kept Dazilma, who is on track to graduate from GGC in 2014, very busy outside of his classes. He does all of the work out of his parents’ garage, recently upgrading from a desktop printer to a commercial one because of demand. His days of buying socks off the rack are over — he now has his own direct supplier from Nike.

That job he worked at Dick’s? He doesn’t need that anymore, either. He has sold more than $15,000 worth of socks since January, the fruits of a sudden idea and heavy labor.

“If you search around now, you will find several custom sock designers working around the country,” McMillan said. “I think it is really cool that we have one of the originators right here in Gwinnett. I think his designs rival any in the country.”

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.