Restoring the shoes of SheffieldPosted by: Maria Iliffe
Phil Ridley, owner of Glistening Kicks, talks to VIBE about his family-run business repairing and restoring shoes.
Tackling a throw-away society head on, Glistening Kicks have gone from strength to strength since opening their Woodseats store in April. Phil and his wife Rachel offer a variety of cleaning and restoring services to bring your old shoes back to life.
We started the business from our conservatory last year and it just gets busier and busier, month on month. We track our success based on how many trainers we get and this is the fourth month in a row of it being a record month, it just grows and grows.
Why did you decide to start this is business?
My son wore trainers to work one day and came back covered in plaster. I had been nagging him to get a job so I couldn’t really shout at him. I tried cleaning them up and got a buzz out of it and it kind of grew from there. During lockdown last year I sent a message out on social media asking if anyone had any trainers that needed cleaning. I went from doing a couple of pairs for mates, to five pairs a week, to ten pairs a week and now we’re regularly getting 50 pairs a week.
There’s a sustainable element to it. We are very much a throw-away society nowadays and trainers aren’t cheap, so if you can get a pair cleaned up, that fit you and are comfy, for a fraction of the price than a new pair, then it makes sense.
Whenever I post on social media, as much as I try and keep our Instagram feed about us, I always make sure I show a before and after of what we’ve done. I think that’s the hook that people see and makes them think ‘oh I could do with that as well’.
Would you say social media has helped to grow the business?
Without Instagram we wouldn’t have the business, simple as that. I’d never been on Instagram before last March and we’ve now got nearly 6,000 followers, it grows every week. When I first started it was quite obvious that people are influenced on Instagram and one of my friend’s daughters has 12,000+ followers. I offered to do some free cleans for her and she posted about it and my followers grew and grew. So I always ask people if they are happy with our service tag us in a story on your Instagram or a leave a Google review, something like that, and that’s where people see it. It’s all word of mouth.
What trainers are your most popular?
The Adidas Originals or Alexander McQueens. We do heels as well; we get quite a lot of Louboutins to repaint the red bottoms.
Would you say it's a saturated market?
We are not unique by any stretch. There are other people that do it but certainly in Sheffield the city is big enough to cope with the four or five businesses that I know of. We get deliveries from all across the country, the furthest is Dubai but we’ve had Canada in the past. But everybody’s got shoes, and everybody’s got trainers, it’s like hairdressers or barbers, there will always be demand.
What is your favourite thing about this job?
I still get a real satisfaction from seeing the before and after pictures, but I don’t clean anymore, I rarely do anything, Rachel does 90 per cent of it. I do the restoration and the re-dies and customs. One of my favourite things is the community, there’s a real community around the trainer cleaning business, we all kind of get on really really well. It’s a nice vibe, we all help each other; if we come across something we don’t know how to deal with or clean, people are so happy to help and advise and I’m the same when people ask me.
Are the customs a challenge?
I've been working on a pair of Adidas; these started out as all black but now they have the logo from Shed Seven. Ee did a pair for the lead singer, Rick Witter. We can change the colours or add names, we can do pretty much anything people want us to. The ones we sell in store are sold on behalf of friends or are new or re-conditioned.
How many can you get through in a week?
It’s usually ten a day, 15 at the most. I probably do about ten customs or repairs (not just cleans) a week. Christmas is coming up so hopefully the customs are going to take off for Christmas presents.
What’s your price range?
£20 for a standard clean, £30 for a premium clean and £55 for a platinum clean.
£20 for cleaning your trainers up is not bad really.
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