SOLE PROTECTOR™ is a simple and practical solution to one of the most significant problems facing sneaker heads today: keeping our soles icy and clean. We are members of the sneaker community with an intimate knowledge of the commitment and frustration that comes with being a sneaker enthusiast. We also knew that in tough times, those already valuable kicks would become pairs of solid gold if the right care was taken to keep the shoe in tip top shape. This is where SOLE PROTECTOR™ comes in.
What are the key factors that have helped your store be successful?
We began by looking at materials used to protect products like the iPhone, priceless stamps, one of a kind coins and even priceless artwork to find the right solution for our precious kicks. Our research on stamps and art work for example, taught us about the materials and methods used to guard against the human oils, acids and oxygen/moisture combinations that lead to yellowing and material degradation.
We were inspired by what we saw and knew that the right combination could work on our sneakers so we dug deeper. Eventually, our initial research paid off in the form of a fantastic solution created by the geniuses at 3M. Working with a 3M specialist, we were able to further refine the product into a highly customized sole protector- our first SP prototype!
From there, we put the SP prototype under a first phase of rigorous, real world testing. With our protected pair of Jordan 11s, we strolled through parks, bopped through clubs, trekked through sneaker conventions and pounded the pavement. We also exposed our prototype to chemicals, oils and waste products that most collectors would never and should never expose their kicks to under normal circumstances.
In the second phase of testing, we extended our prototypes to include other icons from the "Js,” “Lebrons,” “Foams” and “Yeezy” lines. During this phase, we were also able to refine, design and develop the product with a constant focus on the sneaker head in mind. After months of testing, countless failures, feedback from some of the biggest names in the business, we had our first “production ready” SOLE PROTECTOR™.
Since that first unit rolled off the production line, we have been able to tackle bigger challenges like expanding our lines, providing protection for bigger sizes, making installation easier and providing protection against the scuffing associated with heel and toe dragging. As Sneaker Heads, we also can't say enough about the help and support that we've gotten from the community. We have thousands of SPs on the streets now and every day we get feedback from fellow sneaker heads that allows us to make the product better!
We transitioned to an online store because missed the moment when there was more business than we could handle with our home grown approach.
We were happy to see our dream coming to reality but were less than optimistic about our options for running the business online. We knew that we needed an eCommerce system and a web presence but the options for a completely integrated system were limited and cost prohibitive. We were also concerned about quality and credibility as the sneaker community is a small world so news travels fast.
The wrong system could literally ruin our good name.This is why we chose Shopify – the scalability and “bolt-on aps” gave us the structure that our business required with the flexibility to change quickly. Literally with just our iPhones and an iPad, we were able to accelerate and integrate our entire business. At a glimpse, we could suddenly see our vital stats, sales metrics, respond to inquiries and fulfill orders. Moreover, unlike so many others, the Shopify eCommerce platform offered pricing options that allowed us to manage costs as we grew.
We knew that our product made sense because we are sneaker heads! We are members of the community with an intimate knowledge of the commitment and frustration that comes with being a sneaker enthusiast. We also knew that in tough times, those already valuable kicks would become pairs of solid gold if the right care was taken to keep the shoe in tip top shape. This is where SOLE PROTECTOR™ comes in. We followed our dream and found a solution after relentless research, development and testing. We also launched our business in the midst of a recession but because we are part of a thrifty, idea driven generation, we ironically hit a sweet spot in the middle of the storm.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Watching the economy grind to a halt was hard. Watching mentors and friends get escorted from the place we all looked to for safety was hard but nothing was harder than watching America turn its collective back on the American dream. Some of the most charismatic, optimistic, amazing people we have ever know just quit trying because they had lost so much. Nothing felt safe anymore and everything felt like daring to dream was selfish and childish. On top of that, we were being told that we were lucky to be members of the best prepared, best funded generation.
It's odd but to some degree, they were right. We are still growing and believe that we have not scratched the surface of our market but unlike so many of our friends and mentors, we have been able to at least taste the American dream!
Any Closing Remarks?
When the time came to scale up, Shopify was there! So while we hope that we get a spotlight on your blog, we expect to keep growing and a large part of that is due to the system that Shopify created- so thank you for giving us an awesome product!