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Strap on your cleanest sneakers and get ready for an inside look at the powerhouse duo behind Sneaker Laundry! In this exclusive interview, we'll be shining a spotlight on the co-founders, Chase and Eugene, as they share their journey in the world of sneaker cleaning.
First, let's meet the stars of the show:
Eugene, the mastermind a.k.a. "Chief Dreamer" of Sneaker Laundry, is the creative and brains behind all that you see here. He graduated with a law degree but never spent a day as a lawyer. Instead, he found himself with a string of thriving businesses. His entrepreneurial spirit, mind, and skills set him apart from his peers. With all that he's accomplished, his biggest aspiration remains to empower people to explore, venture, find their own paths, and live their best lives.
Chase, the resident expert a.k.a. "Master of Operations" of Sneaker Laundry, is the hands and heart behind this operation. He brings years of experience, not just in sneakers and all things sneaker cleaning-related (though yes, he is one of the best you can find out there!), but also in life itself. With all that he has to give and share, he isn't about to keep it all to himself. He aspires to inspire and help as many people as possible to navigate through life and its challenges.
Now, let's dive into the interview and discover about their journey with Sneaker Laundry thus far, and more!
How did you come up with the idea of a sneaker cleaning business?
Eugene: Honestly, I was just frustrated. I had a pair of yellow suede Nike SB Dunks that I loved and wanted to clean. But nothing existed. The one shop that sold a sneaker cleaner couldn’t tell me how to use it either. It was almost born out of frustration. Until today, many places that will sell you the products have no idea.
Chase: For me it all started when I was younger. Instead of getting new shoes for the new school year I was always left sort of just cleaning the pair I had from last year - fast forward 15 years later where people saw what I was doing and started offering me money to clean their shoes… I never once thought about turning sneaker cleaning into a proper business until I met Eugene and he showed me the potential we were yet to crack.
What do you care most about as co-founders of The Sneaker Laundry?
Eugene: It's really a daily balancing act about keeping all stakeholders happy. It's about keeping the team, investors, customers and everyone else involved with the business, happy. And if I don’t forget, it's about keeping me happy too haha. In an ideal situation, an action you do will appease all stakeholders. I care for always trying to find that multi-faceted win-win situation.
Chase: For me it will always be the people who work for us and our customers. I don’t like calling them customers as much as I like calling them “The Community”, but I always look after my employees and my community as though their well being is my sole responsibility. I find that when I look after my people, I get the same in return and that has not failed me yet.
What are the key factors that have contributed to The Sneaker Laundry’s growth and success?
Eugene: I believe I’m inherently a lucky person. But I also believe that luck only rewards people that have only put in the work in the first place. Some of the key factors would be being first in the market and being quick to respond to the market trends. This has allowed us to be market leaders by innovating out of passion and sheer need for the products that we release. As a business owner, you must be relentless at finding ways to improve your products and your business. Whilst celebrating the small wins, you also need to never be comfortable in the pursuit for perfecting your product and service.
Chase: Some may call it luck but I can’t fall back on that logic. When it comes to this industry we fall under a very rare category of retail/service where the customer is not always right… That has to be approached with the utmost care. Now in order to gain the confidence of our customers, when I see or experience someone who can’t understand why their heavily worn shoes do not look brand new after a clean, I see it as an opportunity to gently educate and never intimidate. I think a big contributing factor to the growth of our brick and mortar location is that even our unhappy customers know they will be looked after with solid information and recommendations on where to go to get their shoes back to the way they were expecting. It is so important to remember that cleaning a scratch on your leather sneakers will not patch it or fix it. We approach every situation and customer with respect and knowledge so they can prolong the life of their favorite sneakers. The education side of things to our customers, I do believe is a major contributing factor to our success. I can’t tell you what no luck is about :)
Why do you think shoe cleaning and maintenance are important for everyone, not just sneaker enthusiasts?
Eugene: There’s so many aspects to it. The first is that it's just how you present yourself. Most guys I know will dry-clean their suits, iron their shirts, and quite simply do their laundry. To overlook footwear in my opinion just defeats the idea of looking your best. Before leaving the house, most people will also think about what to wear. Does this top go with this pair of pants and so forth. When they’re done with that decision, they walk over and pick a pair of sneakers that have most definitely seen better days. I think it's great to be able to look your best when you want to and not be held back by a pair of dirty sneakers that have seen a few good nights out.
From a cost perspective, most consumers will bin their sneakers when it gets too dirty. But regular cleaning and sneaker maintenance can keep your sneakers going fresher for longer. Much like maintaining everything else such as a car. Preventative maintenance can keep your car going better for longer. Much cheaper than buying a new one too!
Chase: 100% - I have a different view on what we wear on our feet. A lot of shoes are made out of synthetic materials but there are still A LOT of brands out there using proper genuine leather which is the hyde of a once living animal. You also don’t have to be a sneakerhead to have a favorite pair of sneakers… The less animals that are losing their lives for our fashion will be better overall for the entire state of the planet… it’s a win win for me, your sneakers last longer and in return, so does the earth.
Share with us the most memorable customer testimonial or success story you've encountered.
Eugene: It was actually when we first started the business and wasn’t sure it was going to work. We had days where we had no customers 6 years ago. We were really worried and wondering if we made the right choice. This guy comes in and drops off 8 pairs and says “Give me the best sneaker cleaning service for all of them”. As he paid for it, we had to try so hard to contain our smiles. I still remember the day. That was everything to us. I personally drove his sneakers home to him after that too.
Chase: For me it was the very first customer on day 1 that brought in a pair of fire red 4’s for a midsole repaint. I had never met this person until the day he walked into the shop and because it was day 1, we had the time to execute the repaint a lot faster than usual and the customer was thrilled to receive a 24 hour turn around on a repaint… which historically speaking at Sneaker Laundry, has never happened since.
What is your ultimate advice to those who are new to sneaker cleaning?
Eugene: Buy our products. Hahaha. We make sneaker cleaning easy. Hop online, get a complete care pack. It has almost everything you’ll need and every product has instructions attached.
Chase: Take any advice you see on the internet with a grain of salt. Some people out there hide techniques and steps from their customer/viewer - if you find yourself stuck, I have dedicated a good portion of 10 years of my life to provide ACCURATE information on how to look after your own sneakers all on my Youtube Channel. Take it from someone who learned all this stuff himself, I will only show you the easiest way to achieve results.
What sets Sneaker Laundry apart from other players in the industry?
Eugene: We care. We care about our products, we care that it works well. We have to use it ourselves in store. If it sucks, it pisses us off more than anyone.
Chase: I personally think that the biggest thing that sets us apart is our accessibility. I have so many customers who I do not know from a hole in the ground outside of what sneakers they like, but we are responsive and even if the question does not lead to a purchase on our website or in store, we still provide the information both in-store and online. There are a lot of sneaker cleaning brands that have a presence in terms of product but no one to actually talk to the people at events and amongst the community. I call that a community leach.
And lastly, can you tell us more about the vision of Sneaker Laundry?
Eugene: We want to be the sneaker care brand of the world. Plain and simple! We are getting there. Good things take time but everytime we look back, it's always been positive progress.
Chase: We want to be a household name - when people think about doing their laundry and spring cleaning and all of that, We want people to think of us when they look at a pile of filthy shoes sitting by their door. In order to do this we must keep providing the best materials and solutions to make sneaker cleaning easy for even the most experienced cleaner to the most amatuer.
Interested in knowing more about Chase and Eugene? Catch them in @thesneakerlaundryau where we release weekly Q&A episodes with them. Uncover the personalities behind the suds and soap as we explore their quirkier side - from their dreams to their everyday favourites, we ask them all! And if you're still left curious after all that, submit your questions in the comment section below, and we'll have them answered for you! Let's connect!