R8: Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started? (a couple of examples would be how long have you been in business, what made you want to open a sneaker store, etc.)
Redwood Sole: Redwood Sole was established in 2016 in Redding, California. Working with Andre down in L.A. at Project Blitz opened the door and gave me the opportunity to open up a brick-and-mortar store in Northern California.
R8: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Redwood Sole: Redwood Sole stands out from our buildout. When the idea of opening a sneaker boutique store crossed my mind, I wanted to make sure we didn’t just put shelves on the wall. I wanted to bring it back from when I was collecting and all the stores had themes and concepts. Growing up in New York, a few stores I bought sneakers from had a great buildout. It made you feel like you were inside something else and not a sneaker store. Dave’s Quality Meat is one of those examples. He took a butcher shop and kept it that way, creating a sneaker store within that theme. Being in Northern California, I wanted to grasp the outdoors and nature. I really wanted the customer to feel like they were shopping in the woods and checking out inside the log cabin.
R8: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Redwood Sole: I have two people that I’m extremely grateful for that helped Redwood Sole open and also helped push us. Dre the owner of Project Blitz is first. Without him, there is no Redwood Sole. When I made that jump from New York to California, I was told about this warehouse in L.A. and needed to get in it and see it for myself. This was almost seven years ago and at that time, I was just collecting and into shoes. When I walked into Project Blitz for the first time, my entire mentality on shoes changed immediately. This guy was holding the buy one and stock one mentality I had my whole life changed at that moment. I quickly realized getting more shoes and flipping them was a business opportunity and having access to Blitz could jump-start me. The relationship I’ve built with Dre these last seven years is not just business, but a true friendship that I am thankful for. He treated me like family from day one and opened doors for me with his connections and network. Project Blitz and Dre opened a new chapter in my life and with them, we now have Redwood Sole. You cannot mention Redwood Sole without saying the word Cookies!!!! When I was building out Redwood Sole, Dre locked me in with a company called Mandinos and Dave Cooper had me dialed in with Diamond Supply, Stance, and other major brands from the start. One company that I had no connection to, but needed in my store was Cookies. I was able to get the rep's contact info and I swear to you, I called and emailed Bryan Wilson every day for about 45 days straight. Most companies you carry inside your store wanna see numbers, get a feel for you and the store, and also wanna make sure you make it out of year one before opening an account for you. I couldn’t wait on Cookies and knew if I had that account, I could push the product. Sometimes Bryan answered and sometimes he emailed me back, but I was consistently on him for almost two months. A trade show was going on in Las Vegas and I drove eleven hours straight in the night just to make sure I was there when it opened to get to the Cookies booth. The rest is history, Bryan took the chance and opened up the account for me that day. I got Cookies four months into opening Redwood Sole and it’s been a great ride so far. Berner and the entire Cookies Enterprise treats you like family and it is a pleasure having an account with them. Bryan Wilson believed in my vision and my store, and I can’t thank him enough.
R8: Why sneakers? What made you open a sneaker store? What are the biggest moments in your store’s history?
Redwood Sole: Sneakers have been a part of my life since middle school. Growing up in the Jordan era and then having Allen Iverson get into the league was truly the start. I’ve always been into sneakers and being from New York it truly is fashion, not just another basketball shoe. I opened Redwood Sole because of the connections I had and also, Redding didn’t have any mom & pop shops. It was almost like a win-win for me. I had a vision, I had people backing me, and with hard work and dedication, I made it happen. Some big moments for Redwood Sole are being open for five years, building relationships with certain brands we carry, and most important are our collaborations with New Era. Being able to take our logo and toss it on a New Era cap is huge for me. Again, I’m from New York, certain brands and styles live threw us and a 59Fifty fitted Yankees cap is one of them. To be able to work with New Era and create our own cap is a big moment.
R8: What was your first experience that you can remember, at a sneaker store? Or a sneaker convention?
Redwood Sole: I would like to talk about the best experiences instead of the first experiences. I did have some great experiences standing in numerous lines on Friday night for a sneaker drop on Saturday, but I have some experiences that top all of that. The first experience was helping Dre with Retrospective on Fairfax back in 2015. It was truly before its time!!! To be able to display his collection in L.A. as an art exhibit was history. The behind the scenes work to create that was an experience of its own. It was such a great exhibit and to see people come to see it and have that same wow feeling inside was awesome. The last night of that display, we finally had a second to ourselves, and to look at it, to take a second and really see what he created and I was a part of was a great experience. ComplexCon 1 we also did a smaller version display of Dre’s collection, and that also was a great experience. The best experience has to be the skate ramp we did at the second ComplexCon with Diamond Supply Co. Dre and Nick came up with the idea of building a skate ramp that you could skate while showing the history of Nike SB. The rest is history. We worked throughout Friday night into Saturday morning to make sure the display was done and finished for the doors to open that Saturday morning. I remember we finished the display around 4 am, got food, and literally slept at Dre’s house for two hours before going back to Long Beach. That entire weekend was epic, and to be a part of it was something special.
R8: Tell us about your closet… What are some of your favorite sneakers you own right now? Was there a pair that got away, that you wish you would have snagged when you had the chance?
Redwood Sole: So I have two closets, one being in Cali the other back in N.Y. When I made that move from New York to Cali, I came across with only a backpack and one duffle bag. The majority of my collection is back home and I’m glad it’s there because I know I have a lot of sneakers that I can wear in the future. Some of my favorite sneakers in that collection are the Defining Moments Pack, Raging Bull 5, Air Force 1 “Easter Egg,” and Air Force 1 “Super Bowl.” Plenty of Jordan 11’s, and also the Red Octobers for a special occasion. Some sneakers out in Cali are definitely the Kaws 4, the Air Force 1 Mid Wheat, and some Kobe 10 elites. One shoe I didn’t have, but grabbed from Blitz was the SB Melvins. Missed those back in New York and was able to grab them up here in Cali a few years back.
Thank you for sharing your story. Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
R8: How long have you carried the Reshoevn8r line?
Redwood Sole: I have been carrying Reshoevn8r since I opened Redwood Sole in 2016. We actually had the display and product at the store before we were even done with the buildout and open. I met Reshoevn8r at Sneakercon back in the day when I was traveling with Kickasso Kustoms. We were at each Sneakercon and just became friends with the guys over at Reshoevn8r. Definitely good times...
R8: What is your store’s biggest Reshoevn8r seller?
Redwood Sole: The biggest Reshoevn8r seller has to be the Sole Shields. All the products are awesome and work great, but to be able to keep the bottom of your sneaker clean is the one.
R8: What are you having a hard time keeping on the shelf? (product or specific items?)
Redwood Sole: When it comes to sneakers, you can never have enough Jordan 1’s. I also noticed Air Force 1’s white or black are gone the day you get them. Bape does well because of our prices, and of course Cookies' entire section. With Reshoevn8r, sole shields and Repellent spray do very well. They also have different cleaning kits which fit a buyer’s exact needs.
R8: Do you have multiple locations? If you only have one, what is the major significance of it?
Redwood Sole: At the moment, Redwood Sole is a one-of-one. Future plans consist of a Long Island shop in Suffolk County and possibly Houston. I built Redwood Sole to one day carry retail with sneakers. It takes time, sales, and a unique feature with your store to get those big accounts. I believe we have that and with direct accounts on the sneaker side of the store, it would make it more possible to open more doors. These stores would have different concepts like Redwood Sole fits Northern California. Definitely have some ideas for Long Island and Houston. Stay Tuned.
R8: Can you tell us about your stock? What do you see moving? What are some upcoming trends that you’re stocking up on?
Redwood Sole: I definitely noticed our cookie orders have gone up. Like I said earlier, white or black Air Force 1’s are always good to be stocked on. Besides stocking up, we are working on other sneaker accounts to be able to have certain brands and styles for every type of person.
R8: What are some ways that your store connects with the city?
Redwood Sole: One major way we connected with Redding California was during the Carr Fire. Many people were evacuated and some lost their homes. Many small businesses started to help out in any way they could. We at Redwood Sole decided to get in contact with some of the companies we carry and see if they had any clothing they could send so we could hand it out to the people who needed it. Diamond Supply Co., New Era, Huf, and others helped out and sent up some clothing boxes. Redwood Sole was able to give that to people who lost everything. We also sponsor teams for the 3 on 3 basketball tournament which is once a year here in Redding. It’s actually next weekend. Another way we connect with NorCal and Redding is with our product shots. We take the outdoors and it's great features to get product shots from it. NorCal’s outdoors is endless and special.
R8: We know the pandemic is affecting the retail climate. Can you tell us how it has affected your business? Have you changed your business model because of this? What precautions are you taking to keep your customers safe in your store?
Redwood Sole: It seems the pandemic is starting to slow down but it’s definitely been a long 14 months. Last March and April everyone was inside. Stores were closed and we were one of them. Free delivery and curbside pickup were some of the options we tossed into our business model at the beginning of last Summer. The pandemic is also causing late shipments and also inventory levels to lower within certain brand warehouses. Seems like everyone pushed through and the Summer looks a lot more promising.
Let’s dive into sneaker culture, really quick.
R8: Where do you see sneaker culture going in the future and what are your thoughts?
Redwood Sole: I really don’t see it going anywhere, sneakers are a part of people’s livelihoods. Has the culture changed in the last twenty-five years in front of me? Yes. I truly remember passing someone and noticing what shoes they had on. My friends and I would say, he has those. Back then it meant something to me. In today’s world, it’s a lot easier to “have those” with technology and money. It doesn’t mean as much to me as it once did. Reselling is a multi-billion dollar industry. I’m from New York, everyone has a hustle and I surely don’t knock this one. I truly collected sneakers and moved around the city back in the early 2000s to have them. The culture is more about resell and being saturated with items. End of the day, sneakers are sneakers and mean something to a lot of people and will always be in the future.
R8: What is a sneakerhead? If you could describe this type of person to somebody who has no idea… what would you say?
Redwood Sole: A sneakerhead is someone who knows the culture and collects shoes. They have a sense of drawing to them. Sneakers are a part of their life.
R8: If someone wanted to start a true sneaker collection.. What's the first pair that you would recommend? What pairs do sneakerheads NEED to have in their collection?
Redwood Sole: I recommend they buy what they like. I got into it and copped what I liked or what player I liked. Do the same, grab what draws you in, and be authentic. The pairs you should have in your collection are the pairs you NEED or want.