Sporting a shiny silver pair of Supras (that aren’t even scheduled to release for another month), Kelvin Wright, of Fresh Exclusive Sneakers, dishes all about his popular shoe company and, of course, his love of hot kicks.
Creative Loafing: So tell me a little bit about what you do.
Kelvin Wright: I take the latest and greatest sneakers from around the world and bring them to Charlotte. I sell everything from Nike SB’s, Dunks, Jordan’s, and Supras, to Vans and Reeboks. I also sell hats and possibly T-shirts in the near future. But sneakers are definitely my main thing, and I love finding very rare shoes and bringing them here to Charlotte.
How did you get into this type of business?
I’ve just always had a love of sneakers. I wear a different pair every day. When I go to pick out an outfit to wear, I start from the bottom up. I pick out the shoes, then the shirt and so on. But I was living in South Carolina at the time, and I had to travel to Atlanta and New York to get the shoes that I wanted. When my mom moved to Raleigh, I came to Charlotte because I wanted to live in the city. I found that there were only a few stores here that sold new sneakers, and even then, they were shoes that everybody had. So I just wanted to give Charlotte what it needed.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that I really started thinking about starting a company. I started from the bottom, just researching and talking to people. I’m a very fast learner and I got advice from a lot of my friends who own their own companies.
Three months ago, I got my Web site up and running, and business has just been crazy. Everybody had told me that when it happens it’s going to happen fast, but man, they weren’t kidding.
What is it that sets your company apart from others?
Exclusiveness! I have what no one else in Charlotte has: sneakers that you can’t get anywhere else. There are “sneaker heads” out there that will do just about anything to get their hands on certain pairs of shoes, and I’ve got those shoes. I get a lot of business around Charlotte; I’ve even sell to a lot of the football and basketball players in the area.
So you do most of your business in Charlotte?
Yeah, it’s mostly Charlotte, but I get a little business from places like Atlanta and DC. Actually I’ve done quite a few fashion shows in Atlanta.
Yeah, I supply the shoes for fashion shoes. I was recently asked to supply the sneakers for the Christian Audigier show. He’s the guy that designs for Ed Hardy. It was amazing. The shoes were even featured in an article for Charlotte Style Magazine.
What do you have planned for the near future?
Right now I’m currently selling everything online off my Web site, but I’m in the works of opening a store downtown. I think a store like this will really make downtown Charlotte different.
I definitely want to keep the store open late, till 12 or 1 a.m. so I can really be available to everyone. If someone wants to buy a new pair of shoes to wear right before they go out, we’ll be open. A buddy of mine wanted to buy a pair of sneakers for an event a few weeks ago, but the only store that sold them closed at seven. I was like, “Why don’t you just get them from me?” I just want to make the community happy.
I’m also planning my first sneaker launch party in early May. The plan is to have one each month showcasing the sneakers that are about to come out. The shows will be open to everybody and will definitely be a good time. We had a venue set up for the first party, but we’re going to have to find someplace bigger because there’s already so many people who are planning to attend. It’s definitely going to be big.
What other ways do you serve your community?
I think that it’s very important to give back to your community. I mean, they’re the reason that I keep going. And I don’t do what I do just to make money; I do it to get people what they want. I sell a lot of sneakers for less than I could, because I want everybody to be able to afford them. Of course, I have sneakers on my exclusive lists that are going to cost you, but I have affordable pairs too. Everything I sell is high quality and completely legit. If you buy a pair of Nike’s from me, you can reference them with
I also donate $1 of every sale to my buddy’s AIDS organization, BCAA (Blacks Combating Aids in America). I think it’s a very important thing to give back and stay humble.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
I get the shoes long before they come out, and I get to wear them to advertise. It’s great to be just walking down the street or strolling through the mall and having people come up and ask me about my shoes. I get it from so many different types of people too; high school kids, skateboarders, even middle aged men. I love being able to have the sneakers that everyone else desires.
Any last words?
Charlotte, get ready! I’m going to make just about everybody fall in love with sneakers.
To contact Kelvin, or to order your own pair of exclusive kicks, visit his Web site at www.freshkw.com.