The CEO of an online sneaker retailer shares how his company combines tech and human taste-making to send curated boxes to costumers.
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If you love sneakers or want to up your shoe game, the husband-and-wife duo behind Kicksnation wants to help you track down your next pair. Tamir Buchler is the co-founder and CEO of Kicksnation, a personal styling service that focuses on the modern sneaker wardrobe. Buchler is a repeat entrepreneur with more 15 years of experience in senior management leadership roles at technology-based, online marketing and direct-to-consumer companies. He spoke with Jessica Abo to discuss his company’s rapid growth and his advice for entrepreneurs.
Jessica Abo: Tamir, what were you and your wife Racheli doing when you both came up with this idea for Kicksnation.com? What problem were you trying to solve?
Tamir Buchler: I was working at a custom home hair color company called Esalon.com for a couple of years and got really exposed to the concept of personalization online. I came home one day and told my wife, I just didn’t understand how this concept wasn’t more widespread, particularly in the world of sneakers.
We decided to go off on this journey together and put together personalized boxes of sneakers for our friends, and friends of friends, who were interested in allowing us to curate that experience for them. We set out to create a frictionless shopping experience by curating a try before you buy sneaker box with three pairs in every shipment.
Our original thesis was that people would be spending more time shopping online than they would in brick and mortar. And that malls inherently were going to suffer as a result. However, we knew that the mall experience and the in-person experience created certain opportunities that weren’t available online. For example, when you walked into a shoe store, you inherently had a try-before-you-buy experience. Well, no one was doing that online. And so we looked at that as an opportunity. And when you marry that with the concept of personalization, it just made a ton of sense.
How does the process work?
Buchler: You come to our site Kicksnation.com and take a short quiz. We learn a little bit about who you are and what your specific footwear needs are. We run that information against some proprietary technology that we have in the backend, and we pair you with a personal stylist. Your stylist will curate a specific shipment for you containing three pairs of shoes for you to try before you buy. We’ll send a shipment to your house, you try the shoes on for size and for style, keep what you like, send back what you don’t. Shipping and returns are always free.
What’s the price point for Kicksnation?
Buchler: We charge a $15 styling fee to put together your curated sneaker box. When you take your quiz, you’ll be able to set your price range for each sneaker that you select. Prices can range anywhere from $150 up to $350 per sneaker. We’re all about giving you what you want, but not what you expect. And there’s nothing better than getting a box of three pairs of shoes to your house and not knowing exactly what they are, only knowing that it’s what you asked for. That’s a huge component to this, and it makes our offering that much more compelling.
And when it comes to giving back, how does Kicksnation.com pay it forward?
Buchler: We’re going to be kicking off a partnership with Soles4Souls. It’s an amazing nonprofit whose mission is to fight poverty and protect the environment through the distribution of shoes and clothing to people across the globe. Anytime you purchase a pair of shoes from us, you can send back a used pair, or two or three, and use the prepaid shipping label provided, and we’ll extend the life of your sneakers by getting them out to the hands of someone in need through our partnership with Soles4Souls.
You’ve experienced rapid growth in your first six months. What advice do you have for an entrepreneur about to launch a business?
Buchler: When you take off on your journey, there is not going to be enough time in the day to get done what it is you need to get done. That’s going to be one of the first things that you realize. Something that we have started to believe in is the concept of getting one big thing done every day. What’s the one big accomplishment you can achieve in that day? And if you think about stitching together 365 days of big things, you’re going to be successful.