Memphian to Meet: Taylor Payne

Posted on October 26, 2014

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By: Kendra Lyons

Photo credit: Kendra Lyons

Photo credit: Kendra Lyons

24-year-old William Taylor Payne, (“T Payne” as most of his friends call him), is a born and raised Memphian. He has lived here for most of his life except he went to Ole Miss for a semester, “partied too much and had to come home.” Following his return to Memphis, he moved to Knoxville and then, “went out west for a while.”

I met up with Payne at Bluff City Coffee to learn more about the Instagram-account-gone-business-venture he started a little over a year ago, Swift Kickz. A few minutes into our conversation, Payne admitted he wasn’t letting me in on the full story. “Alright, alright, I’ll spill the beans,” he said.

And indeed he did.

Since he was a teenager, Payne was selling marijuana until he got pulled over with twenty pounds of it in his car while he was in Nevada. “I was looking at 5-6 years in prison.”

After he returned home, “They were trying to get me back in the game. I still sold another 40 pounds in like three weeks. Eventually, I just got sick of it, and that’s when I dove into the shoes. I got so sick of looking behind my back and seeing my brother make money and not having to worry about anything.”

Payne returned to Memphis to put his troubles in Nevada behind him and thus, Swift Kickz was born. It started off as a competition between Payne and his brother to see who could get the most followers. Their interest started at a young age when they played basketball.

“I always wanted the freshest shoes. We would buy them and would play them on the court because we wanted to look the coolest on the court. I wanted to be that dude, hitting the shot, wearing those awesome Lebron’s.”

“We figured out little tricks on Instagram [to get more followers] that are basically common knowledge but you have to take the time to do them. I had a bunch of time. I didn’t have a job. I wasn’t very interested in school. I got really good at it.” Before long, Payne had 100,000 Instagram followers. What might have seemed like a side hobby at the time, quickly became very “real,” and something that Payne began to take seriously.

“The biggest thing to me that really took me back was one day my friend asked how many followers the Memphis Grizzlies had. It turned out I had 60,000 more followers than the Memphis Grizzlies. I looked at him and I said, ‘if you look at this, I’m more popular on the web than the Grizzlies.’ He said, ‘that’s impossible.'”

But it was possible. Payne realized that Swift Kickz had more followers than the Grizzlies, and many other big companies and franchises on Instagram, which motivated him to take the account to the next level.

“I stopped going out, I stopped talking to a lot of people. This became my life.” Regardless of his efforts, Payne had skeptics at first.

“Everyone made fun of me for it. No one believed in me. No one asked me about it or anything like that. That’s why I stopped talking to a lot of people. They used to be like ‘oh what shoes are you wearing today,’ blah blah blah. Next thing, they look, I have 100,000 followers and have as many followers as celebrities they follow on the web. That’s a very real thing.”

What Swift Kickz actually does, is provides followers with insight to the newest sneaker fashions with photos and links to where to purchase them online. Payne also lets vendors advertise on his page, for a cost. Memphis is a unique place for sneaker sales, Payne explains, because there are people who love sneakers here, but have a different outlook on what they are willing to spend compared to other cities, such as New York and Los Angeles.

Payne has high hopes for the future of the sneaker industry in Memphis because it has a secret weapon: Nike. “When everyone thinks of Nike, they think of L.A., Flight Club (N.Y.), and Oregon. They never think of Memphis. All their shoes that are sold in America are here. When you order from Nike.com, that comes from here.”

Aside from managing and promoting the Instagram account, Payne sells sneakers in person and has a dream of opening up a storefront; a goal that could be a reality in the very near future. Payne has already started looking for potential buildings and is in the process of working out a game plan for the future.

Payne has combined his passions for selling things and sneakers, and turned what was once a skill that got him in trouble, into a revolutionary shopping experience. Payne feels that he has something to prove to himself, his family, and the city, and he won’t stop until Swift Kickz is the Memphis-based, sneaker junkie’s holy grail.

Join the movement and follow Swift Kickz on Instagram. 

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Posted in: Memphian to Meet