Wethenew Sneakers Market Expands Its Hunting Area

With your partner, you started when you were still a student. Did you benefit from the support of certain programs or were you accompanied by structures?

Financially, we are fortunate to have parents who financed our studies, so we did not have a loan to pay off, which allowed us to get a loan of 20,000 euros to start the business. Thanks to this capital, we were able to maintain the company for 18 months.

In terms of building the project, we already had a lot of entrepreneurial knowledge due to our studies (master in management in Audencia, Editor’s note). We have always tried to be as independent as possible by learning on our own.

Therefore, we have never integrated an incubator or an accelerator. We’ve really tried to take a fairly simple act as a reading post. We decided to start in a very humble way. Our mission was to find a good product and provide a good service. We chose to have a simple concept, with a company that generates money once they sell a product.

You’ve developed a bad reputation for being able to sell limited-produced sneakers, so they’re rare. How do you get your supplies?

We only sell new products, which appear in drop online or in stores, meaning that they will not be sold again after that.

Our website consists of two distinct parts. When the customer accesses it, he will be able to access images and product information. We will also provide many services such as installment payment.

For our part, we will buy sneakers from a seller who deposits his sneakers or clothes in the market. This system allows us to have one price per page, per size and per brand. When a seller displays his product, he receives a packing slip, a sales receipt. We collect the product for validation and then deliver it.

We have several types of sellers: casual sellers who participate in raffles and who will sell a few pairs, then semi-professional and professional sellers.

You are positioning yourself as a trusted third party. How do you verify this authentication?

We authenticate the product to make sure it’s not fake. You should know that the cheaper the pair, the lower the quality of the fakes. The more expensive the pair, the better the counterfeit. Above 200 euros, it is important that you undergo authentication.

We train our employees on this point. We’ve built an in-house database that includes photos and text of different points of interest to check out a pair of sneakers: seams, label, material, and box. For bestsellers, we have a pair in stock to check out.

What strategies did you use to define yourself?

In the beginning, we looked for our primary target, that is, people who like these products and who have the financial means to buy them. We first thought of football players. We have selected all the Ligue 1 teams and sent them direct messages on Instagram. At the time, we were selling a pair or two a day. A month later, we met the Ivorian selection, who came to France for a week of preparation. They had to stay at the hotel between training sessions, so we took the opportunity to introduce our products to them. We arrived with 25 plastic bags and sold 5,000 euros worth of products in one day. You have to be creative when you start.

Then we started creating content on our Instagram account by creating one story per day, then four. We also tried to respond to all direct messages and all comments. We continue to follow this guideline. Then we invested some money in online advertising. We tested many things on Facebook, Instagram, etc. You should test and see if there are potential clients to look for. Next, we decided to target barbershops, who agreed to set up deals in their shops for a small commission on the pairs sold.

We have also done a lot of work on SEO to succeed in getting good references. At first, you do things that take up a lot of your time, and then when you’re famous, it’s the other way around. Today, a large portion of our acquisitions are done naturally. We have also created our own media and are still very present on social networks. We’ve developed other tools like affiliation, across sites that also talk about sneakers. Our marketing budget is around one hundred thousand euros per month.

Today, who are your main customers?

We managed to have a mixed client panel of 50% of men and women. We have always wanted to address each other like others and this is reflected in the selection of inspiration for our campaigns.

We have a relatively young community, as 60% of it is GenZ and we’re very proud of it, because these are audiences that many brands struggle with.

Our ambition is really to create an inclusive movement to democratize access to urban culture and its products.

Sneakers have become a trendy product that attracts a wide range of people and thus encourages business creation. How do you see the development of the sector and the arrival of competition?

We were the first to enter this sector through a market in France. Our release of other players gives us a bit of a lead. The competition can be viewed on two levels. There are two great American players that have been in Europe since 2018, but their presence does not stop us from growing. I see them above all as players who come to preach the market and democratize sneaker culture.

There are also a few players younger than us. But their presence constitutes healthy competition, because we are in a booming market and competition pushes us to innovate. We have successfully built a strong image and developed a good value proposition, allowing us not to worry about the future. It is up to us to continue distinguishing ourselves.

After you raised 10 million euros a year ago, what major projects have you launched?

We started our international expansion in 2021 and will continue in 2022. We opened three countries last year: Germany, Italy and Spain. These three countries make up a quarter of our sales volume today.

The passion for urban culture is global and therefore European, so there is a real challenge in replicating what we have been able to do in France elsewhere by adapting to the specificities of each country.

The second project we worked on was building our technology. If we want to be able to process hundreds of thousands of orders annually across Europe, we need to create a tool that provides the best experience for sellers and buyers. For example, it is necessary to automate the payment process for the seller by scanning the QR code once the product is approved.

Our last two projects were building a strong brand with our community – we have 20 million followers on Instagram – and recruiting new people.

What are the key areas in which you will continue to develop in the coming months?

Our vision has always been to say that everyone is welcome and so we wanted to create a system where people come through different doors and move through them. Today, we have a very big focus on sneakers and are increasingly developing another fashion vertical, streetwear.

We want to become the reference platform for all people who want to enjoy buying sports shoes, apparel and accessories. We’ll look for depth in these two verticals. People need to be able to purchase a pair of classic Converse products that they will use every day, as well as high-end products. The idea is that our customers come to buy everyday products as well as a birthday gift.

We are also committed. We have an in-house program that allows us to invest in social projects, such as distributing meals to students. From an environmental point of view, our boxes are recyclable and we work to ensure that they are made from recycled cardboard in the future. We also try to implement solutions to have a neutral environmental footprint in our transportation.

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