Meet Reza, The Tesla-Inspired Footwear Brand That Wants You To ‘Light Your Own Path’

February 19, 2022

In the last year and a half, the pandemic was a force to be reckoned with that the world faced collectively. Whether in the U.S. or abroad, small businesses and start-ups were among those impacted most negatively. But for some, the pandemic was an inspiring time to create and innovate. For emerging entrepreneur Mustafa Ahmed Syed, the pandemic would mark the precipice of an already impressive career with the launch of his footwear brand REZA that came to fruition. Featuring cutting-edge innovation that implements Tesla-inspired technology by way of a solid-state lithium battery and a laser diode, REZA is the first of its kind to introduce this technology to the sneaker world. Despite launching in August, selling out of their pre-order drop in two hours, Syed’s journey with REZA was no Cinderella success story. 

Founded by the 22-year-old Michigan native after dropping out of college, Syed moved to China to understand the manufacturing process, study hardware and research new innovations within the footwear space. But with COVID devastating China in the early months of 2020, Syed was forced to abandon his efforts and return home to the States. 

It wouldn’t be until later that year when Syed applied to Techstars Accelerator, a renowned investment fund known for its early investments where things really got serious. “We had really applied with nothing more than a vision,” Syed said. “We barely had a working prototype, but I think they saw our conviction and really started to believe in us”. REZA would go on to be one of the few selected from a pool of 600+ applicants and received $120K in funding, which catapulted the brand’s dive into development.

Beginning of The Summer of 2021, after almost a year of development, no one had heard the name ‘REZA’. The founding team had spent months in Taiwan, had a working product, but no social following. It wasn’t until Steve Aoki wore an unreleased pair of their shoes where everything changed.  Suddenly, the unknown Detroit-based brand blew up, being supported by one of the most influential artists. This catapulted REZA to receive more than 25k applications for its drop and began a worldwide following of the brand. Subsequently, several unreleased pairs were spotted with DJ Skee, digital creators Eric Whiteback and Harrison Nevel, and Snoop Dogg – only added fuel to the fire. But the team insists, it’s much more than just a shoe.

“For us, it’s about forging a community of like-minded people and allowing them to express themselves within a new outlet,” Syed said. Within their invite-only model, applicants had to answer a simple question – how they ‘light their own path’ and received inspiring responses from artists, founders, athletes across 50 countries. The brand is now fully-fledged into production with an extremely talented sourcing team in Taiwan. Mustafa says they are all ‘hell-bent’ on delivering a great product to their customers early next year, with more drops lined up. And for a new Detroit-based start-up, their team hosts an impressive roster, with ex-designers from New Balance and key advisors hailing from Nike and Paris Saint-Germain Football Club. 

It seems like REZA has all the recipes of success – A strong founder, purpose, and fans who are willing to rally themselves around the concept. Only time will tell where the ‘light’ continues and where REZA shines next.