Mark “ShaH” Evans has launched a new shoe called “Seek Death,” but it’s not anything morbid or negative. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“It’s seeking the death of your limited self, and the death of your limiting beliefs. And when you transform yourself and push yourself past your limits, you’re essentially killing off the version of the person who you were and becoming this new person,” Evans tells Madison365. “I want you to manifest a new version of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Evans is well-known in the greater Madison community for a variety of endeavors. He has been vice president of the Urban Community Arts Network, an organization he helped found over a decade ago. During that time he has done a little bit of everything to further the platform in Madison for hip hop. More recently, Evans is the owner of The Blast Muay Thai MMA Gym on Madison’s south side and is an avid motivational speaker and life coach.
Now, he’s jumping into a brand-new arena – clothing and shoe design.
“Clothing and shoe design has always been right up there with music for me,” Evans says. “I’ve been slowly building things up in that area and deciding that I’m not doing music the way I was before. It’s more community-based projects — except for DJ Pain 1 and things of that nature. I’ve also been focusing on my gym and it’s been fun building different shirts and different hoodies and playing with the colors teams and taking my quotes and making them come to life within my gym clothing.
“And then the shoes just seemed like the next evolution of things and it was something that I was working on for a while and one day really decided, ‘OK, I think now is the time to pull the trigger,’” he continues. “And then there was that worry that: am I going to do anything? Is this going to work? Is this going to be financially viable? It was lots of interesting hours and hours and days of putting it together. And here we are.”
For his new “Seek Death” shoes, which were first made available a little over a month ago, he has designed a fashion-strap hi-top sneaker inspired by futuristic themes and a runner/basketball hybrid that is a special sneaker – a combination of a running structure and a contemporary basketball shoe design. The shoes are handcrafted in Italy. Once you buy a pair, the custom shoes are manufactured and shipped to you. Evans is the designer of this unique limited edition shoe concept.
“I really hope people like the designs. I just really pay attention to the blueprints that were in front of me. I’m not doing something that someone hasn’t done already,” he says. “I’m just doing something that most people don’t want to take the chance on until they have a big name. And I get that. It’s just that: why do I need to have a big name to do what I want to do?”
Evans says he has spent a lot of time researching entrepreneurs in the clothing/apparel world before he launched.
“The one thing that always stands out for me is that people always talk about, ‘ShaH, you’re so motivational, you’re always uplifting, you’re always positive.’ I thought to myself, ‘how can I incorporate that in?’ So like right on the tongue of the shoe, it says, ‘When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.’ You see it right when you put your shoe on you lift your tongue up, it’s right there – Boom! So even if you don’t feel so great or you’ve had a crappy morning, you put your shoes on, and you get hit with a motivational quote. Then it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to work because of this.’”
Evans says that he himself had reached a very rough patch in his life where he felt demoralized and depressed and that was exacerbated by the long pandemic and was fortunate to persevere.
“I had a moment – and it feels like a brief moment now but in all actuality, it was a two-hour moment in my parking lot here at my gym — where I thought about ending it all,” he says. “And I didn’t. But it woke up this new part of me that said, ‘Anything can be taken from you at a drop of a dime.’ So what are you going to do to manifest the things that you want? And from there on out, it changed a little bit of my perspective.”
He began to pour his passion into shoe design. It soon became apparent that “Seek Death” would be the perfect name for it.
“It’s been this message that I’ve been promoting for a little while now. It really started with my fighters. In order to get in that ring and to get in that cage, you have to be willing to incorporate that warrior spirit. Before warriors go into war, they have to be OK with death,” Evans says. “If you talk to any soldier or anybody that’s put themselves in harm’s way or has suffered from a near-death experience, they understand that life is precious and can be gone tomorrow, but that should make everything great … it should make everything pleasant.”
Evans adds that when you transform yourself and push yourself to the limits, you’re essentially killing off the version of the person you were and becoming this new person. It’s the idea of pushing yourself through the uncomfortable and getting to the point where you don’t feel physically or mentally capable of doing more than you are doing.
“Seek death means you push yourself past that point. And in doing that, you discover that what you thought was your limit was really just a stepping stone and you discover new capabilities within yourself,” he says. “And that idea is that you do that not once but you do that for your entire life.”
Evans, who has spent a lifetime working with young people in a variety of different areas, from hip-hop to the gym, hopes that he can be an inspiration for youngsters to find and pursue their own dreams.
“I truly believe that we should lead with love and kindness, learn something every day, and just share it,” he says. “I’ve already talked to some kids about designing their own shoe. I work a lot with [Madison Public Library’s] The Bubbler. UCAN does a lot of work with The Bubbler so I do a lot of stuff with [Media Projects Bubblerarian] Robbie Dz and [Teen Services Librarian] Jesse [Vieau] over there at The Bubbler and Media Academy. I’ve talked to talk to them about it and I’ve talked to some of the students about building their own stuff. You don’t have to be what they call an entrepreneur; it’s OK to work for somebody. But if you have a dream, however how much time you’re putting into someone else, put that into building your dream. And, eventually, it will come.
“I’m really enjoying this experience of creating this shoe and putting it out there. I hope that what I’m doing is inspiring to people and I just want to keep inspiring people,” he adds. “That was the driving force for the shoe at the end of the day … on top of my own dream.”