Sneaker fans know that cleaning shoes is the number one priority in collecting them. They also know that sometimes it can be a hassle. Thanks to Steve Grear, founder of Reshoevn8r, they can now breathe a sigh of relief.
In 2010, Steve Grear got the idea for Reshoevn8r while cleaning some shoes he was planning to sell on eBay. Realizing that there should be an easier way of cleaning shoes, he did research and found that there was no cleaning service on the market. That’s when he started his own company.
Shortly after founding Reshoevn8r, Steve Grear filed a patent for their signature product called the “Reshoevn8r Sneaker Laundry System.” Over the last 5 years, Stephen managed to overcome the growing pains of a new business, and he grew his brand into one of the premium shoe care brands in thew orld.
At Reshoevn8r, Steve Grear provides “premium shoe care products for sneaker enthusiasts.” The company also takes pride in pursuing innovation, led by their flagship product, the patented “Sneaker Laundry System.”
Thanks to Steve Grear, Reshoevn8r is are also the only company that “offers such a diverse and effective sneaker cleaner.”
Steve Grear and Reshoevn8r also enjoy a strong presence on social media, boasting about 1,000,000 followers across different platforms. You can also learn how to take better care of your shoes by watching their YouTube videos, which now has “36,734,494 views and counting.”
If you are going to beat the odds and create something that is going to be successful and last your belief in your product cannot waver. Steve Grear, Reshoevn8r
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Steve Grear: I love being able to answer this question — because my aha moment came from a real-life problem that I was able to solve.
Growing up, I was always into sneakers. There was nothing like the feeling I got lacing up a new pair of shoes. My mom was a single mom, and we didn’t have a lot of extra money for things like “cool sneakers”. I learned from early on that if I wanted the sneakers I had to last, I had to find a way to take care of them.
I had tested out every product imaginable and found there wasn’t a product that was working as well as the process that I had come up with.
After cleaning my sneakers, I would put them into the washing machine in a pillowcase. This method was protecting the shoes from scuffing, but it was also helping to scrub the shoes during the cycle. The difficult part of this was trying to get the knot untied from the pillowcase when the laundry cycle was completed.
It was one of those nights when I was cleaning multiple pairs of sneakers, it was getting late and I was becoming overly frustrated that I wasn’t able to get the knot out of the bag that my aha moment happened.
There had to be a better way to do this, and improve the process. It started to click — if I was this interested in a more effective shoe cleaner, there had to be other people as well. After what felt like years of research, which was more like weeks, I decided I was going to go at this project with everything I had. There wasn’t anything else on the market that compared to what I was looking for — I was going to make it.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Steve Grear: I think I have been faced with an abundance of hard times not just in the startup stages, but even today.
There are a couple that really tested my faith and perseverance. At the beginning of my journey, the biggest obstacle that I faced was — I didn’t have any experience. I’m not just talking business experience. I was a high school dropout with literally no formal education. I didn’t have industry experience, other than I had a fixation on sneakers and how to make their appearance last longer.
I questioned myself constantly — not just about the actual product, but if I could make it in an industry that was such a niche and the business world overall. The one thing I always had confidence in, was I had a great product and I couldn’t give up until I knew it was being used all over the world.
After about a year of working on the branding, packaging, pricing, etc, I finally had a sellable product and created a website in 2011. Looking back now, it seems like it was relatively early in the e-commerce world.
That’s when the next obstacle came in my journey. I completely underestimated how hard it would be to get visitors to my site. I naively assumed that I could just build a website and then people would just start placing orders not realizing the challenges of SEO and actually driving traffic to the site.
There were many times during that period that I questioned if I should continue, but everyone that used the product loved it and said how great it was so I knew I had to keep going. I continued to do research daily, found people that would openly talk to me about the industry, networked, and built my reputation around selling quality products.
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Steve Grear: Today seems like a world away from where I was ten years ago. We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary with a huge “Reshoevn8r Day” in August. I sometimes have a hard time talking about the journey from cleaning shoes and selling them on ebay, to the company I have today.
In late April we launched a full-scale rebrand that elevated the entire business. Through constant improvement, and not getting complacent, we have continued to grow year after year even with the current challenges that a lot of businesses are going through at the moment.
The first few years were definitely not for the faint of heart, but with undeniable grit and resilience, I weathered the storm and slowly started to grow the business. I think you need to be completely and overwhelmingly obsessed with whatever it is you are trying to do. Self-doubt, being scared, overwhelmed, and panicking was all part of the process, but I never once doubted that my product was the best. If you are going to beat the odds and create something that is going to be successful and last your belief in your product cannot waver. Reshoevn8r was all I thought about from sun up to sun down and I put in more hours than most people are willing to dedicate to anything, and that is what has made me successful.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Steve Grear: Well, there were plenty of mistakes, one I think was me doing the graphic design. We didn’t have money to pay someone, so I learned how to use Photoshop, but looking back it was really bad (…like, really bad). I still laugh at the process of learning to use the program, and then being really proud of myself for what I created. I see what my graphic design and my creative team do now, and I am still blown away when I see the final product.
I am a true believer in simplicity and streamlined systems.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Steve Grear: I have a few recommendations for tools and software that we use, there are a lot out there to choose from, these just happen to be the ones we are currently using.
- Shopify — Is one eCommerce platform that has enough functionality to enable and empower a brand to scale up. You can also create a website with very little experience and improve and tweak it as time goes on.
- SEMRush — Is great to keep track of your SEO
- Glew.io — This is a great KPI consolidator to proactively alert you on all of your KPIs and for you to be able to filter by segments to take targeted action on those users
- Asana — amazing tool for project management. Teams are able to create project boards, track processes, and get approvals
- Slack — This is a great tool not only for internal team communication but also to automate alerts from your storefront and Asana tasks
- Klavyio — This is a good email marketing automation platform for e-commerce retailers
- Fulfil.io — An API driven real time ERP system that integrates with at a multi-channel level. Unfortunately, most popular ERP systems out there today are archaic and are slow to re-platform since it’s a costly proposition. Fulfill.io is an ERP system that leverages the latest tech stack vs the others.
I am a true believer in simplicity and streamlined systems. As the business has grown, I need to be able to see all of the data in real-time. My team also makes in the moment decisions when campaigns are not performing as well as we expected. I feel finding systems that you are comfortable using, and that INTEGRATE with each other is a game-changer.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
Steve Grear: Conversion is very important, each person that visits your website and does not convert, costs you money, so the higher the conversion the better.
I mentioned this before, but I think that shipping cost is a big one. With more people using Amazon Prime they are more likely to expect free shipping, so building that expense into the cost of your product if possible, will help. In addition to that, speed is critical, how many times have you been to a website and it took forever to load, and you just left? Also driving the right audience to your site will ultimately increase conversion. My advice is any way you can make the buying process smooth and easy for the consumer the better.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Steve Grear: I believe to create a trusted and beloved brand it all starts with the team and having the right people in the business that are ethically sound and actually care about the brand.
Also, be authentic and do what you say you are going to do, as the saying goes “bad news travels much faster than good news”, with social media today you can’t afford to have people bash you because you were dishonest or misleading. The company I built will always have a customer-centric AND associate centric platform.
Lastly, one thing that we do is let people into our world. The sneaker industry is a niche market, but the Reshoevn8r brand is for everyone. Your sneakers don’t need to cost $2000 for our product to work! We feature different employees on our social platforms so our customers can get to know my team. Snapchat takeovers have been wildly successful when our associates take it over. My team is so diverse that customers are most definitely going to SEE SOMETHING DIFFERENT when one of the associates takes it over for the day.
When I take a step back and look at the diversity of my team, I am so proud of how we have all assembled. I have people on my team who have no formal education, similar to myself, to bachelors, masters, and Ph.D.’s in their respective fields. I have people from different ethnic backgrounds, different sexual orientations, and truly an equal pool of talent. My team is authentic and trusted and that rolls over into every part of my brand.
Bad news travels faster than good news, so you really need to be able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and treat them how you would like to be treated.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
Steve Grear: 1) Good branding — I believe good branding and keeping things consistent is important. When I first started, I didn’t have the money to perfect everything before offering the product for sale, so I really had to get creative when it came to branding products, etc. As we started to grow, I realized our branding wasn’t very consistent. We had increased our product line and the packaging wasn’t consistent across all of our skus, we had different designers over the years and really didn’t have a set brand guideline to follow. So, a few years ago I decided to do a full-scale rebrand and really update and mature the brand esthetic. I think this really helped us elevate and evolve the brand to help scale.
2) Have a plan on how you are going to continue to generate brand awareness and drive visitors to your site-
Don’t be like me when I first started and assume that just because you build a nice website that people are going to visit and purchase from you. Come up with strategies on how you are going to build your brand awareness and drive traffic to your site.
There are so many ways to do it now, social media, influencers, PPC, SEO, Google, Yelp the list goes on you just need to find what works best for your business and work it.
3) Make sure there is a demand for whatever it is you are trying to sell and have some interest in what you’re offering
The amount of time and energy needed to build the brand and online business is going to be overwhelming, so if you are interested in what you are selling or the industry you are in, that will help ease the long hours. I love sneakers and I like to keep my sneakers looking new, so I just found a way to create a business around something I was interested in and already doing.
4) Make sure your UI (user interface design) and UX (user experience design) are on par with your competitors if not better. If a customer leaves your site to shop for competitors, make sure they remember you! I know that my skill set was not Photoshop, just like my skill set is not coding a website. After my brand started to grow, I prioritized finding people who were experts in those fields to come on board. I invest in the talent that works for Reshoevn8r and appreciate their expertise, this is a game-changer in terms of eCommerce, and new businesses as a whole.
5) World-class Customer service
We sell premium shoe cleaner, and some people are blown away that we have created a successful business around it. One of the reasons we have been able to do that is good customer service. Bad news travels faster than good news, so you really need to be able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and treat them how you would like to be treated.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Steve Grear: Check out Reshoevn8r on social media at @mr.reshoevn8r and @reshoevn8r
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!