As the city of Milwaukee comes off the heels of celebrating its annual 414 Day, this entrepreneur and philanthropist is back to showcase his love for the place that raised him through his new work with Adidas.

“Milwaukee is home,” Eric “Shake” James told Blavity when speaking about the place he’s known all his life means to him. “It’s a great city. I just feel like it’s very underrated and overlooked.”

Ahead of the holiday, Shake, who is also the owner and founder of CLICKS, a boutique sneaker store that started as a vision of the legendary Run-DMC member Jam Master Jay, shared his connection to the Adidas brand as the two joined forces in the community to honor the city.

Despite his humble beginnings, Shake recalled the first time his mother saved her money to purchase his sneakers, his first pair of Adidas.

Photo: Adidas
Photo: Adidas

“That was the first time I got my hands on a pair of Adidas, and it felt so cultural; that’s where the love started,” he shared.

Shake has not only since partnered with the brand to spearhead events in the city for 414 Day, but through the Adidas Cornerstone Community initiative, they are offering footwear design workshops for local middle school students.

Together, they hosted a 414 Day party that featured performances from hip-hop royalty like Brooklyn Queen, Lil Kim and a DJ set by Mr. New York.


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A post shared by SHAKE (@shakejmj)

“I’ve been doing nonprofit work with Adidas since 2008, and it kind of started with about 50 pairs of shoes. It was on a whim that I called,” Shake said. “Because I usually call and get a pair for myself or a couple pair for the family, but this particular time I called and told them I wanted to do a back-to-school drive, and they were like ‘OK, what do you need?’ I told them 50 pairs of shoes and they were like, ‘What else?’ Then I added in backpacks and hats, and they threw it all in there for me. Adidas has been helping me bridge that gap to speak to the youth and help them realize — sometimes kids just need to know that somebody loves them. Their parents love them, but they need to know that somebody else loves them and cares about them and wants to see them do well, and this partnership between me and Adidas has been helping to do that.”

Through his J.A.Y. Academy, Shake and the leading apparel company have hosted more than 15 community-driven events since 2020 and continue to achieve impactful milestones together.

Shake helped to create the 414 Rivalry Low to pay homage to his city, infusing the limited-edition sneaker with key Milwaukee elements like a “cream city brick” textured tongue, three green stripes with red accents that represent the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and more.


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A post shared by SHAKE (@shakejmj)

He said creating the concept for the shoe was a breeze, especially since it involved highlighting all of the things that Milwaukee is known for.

“We’re known for that cream city brick, that vintage cream city brick where I have one of my stores, which is a long story, but there was a fire back in the 1800s, a big warehouse fire. And so the only thing that survived the fires was the cream city brick,” Shake explained. “When they restored the buildings, all of them had the cream city brick in them, and that became one of the things that we were known for. So I was like, I gotta figure out a way to put the cream city brick in there.”

“Then, I’m a big Bucks fan, so I had to reach out to their ownership to talk to them about it, and it was the easiest conversation ever,” he continued. “They got their lawyer on the phone, and it took about an hour to draft up the agreement, and then that happened, so that’s where those colors come in. I wanted to use those vintage Bucks colors. We’re also known for cheese, so I wanted to add that in and tell that story to have that representation. Lastly, in the insole, I used other things that we are known for like bowling, beers and things like that. We are kind of like a little party city, so I wanted to have representation for what Milwaukee is through the sneakers.”

As he looks toward the future, Shake’s commitment to the city of Milwaukee continues, as he revealed that his J.A.Y. Academy will officially open its doors in the first physical location in late August.