Ownr Success Story: SOLE Premium Shoe Care
SOLE Premium Shoe Care is Toronto’s first pick up and drop off shoe cleaning service. In this interview with Ownr, Founder and President of Sole, Levi-Evan Shantz-McManiman, spoke about starting his own business, finding a niche in the market and growing his business beyond his expectations.
Introduce us to Sole Clean?
Levi: Sole’s mission is to be the undisputed leader in shoe care for Canada. We aim to propagate a sustainable approach to footwear through services rendered.
Sole was founded in 2019 with the purpose of enabling those who are passionate about footwear to take care of their passion.
Our scope expands beyond that, however, with us having teamed up with ‘The Kickback’ to help underprivileged youth enter into the sneaker culture we so love. My goal above all is to contribute to the community, whether it’s by servicing our client or lending a helping hand.
Take us back to the early days of your business idea and what inspired you to set up the company.
Levi: My colleagues and I have always been passionate about streetwear culture. One of the earliest experiences with said culture was when my now colleague, Stefan Gregoriou, sourced me a pair of Jordan ‘Shadow’ 1s in high school. A lot has changed between now and then, but the excitement remains.
The manifestation of the business came from being in the right place at the right time. We had been bouncing around ideas of what the city was missing when it became obvious that we had stumbled onto something. Toronto’s sneaker culture, as big as it may be, continues to grow, with more and more outlets opening up daily. It became evident that no one was taking care of these clients; once the sale was complete, the interaction ended. This in itself was limiting. Fast forward, Sole Clean picks up where they left off.
What are your biggest challenges as a business owner?
Levi: There are many challenges to owning a business. The two I would like to highlight are timemanagement and acquiring quality staff. This is not just limited to business, but one’s life outside of it as well. When you own a business, it is ultimately you who has total responsibility. There is no one to turn to when issues arise, you are your own CEO, and you and you alone must deconstruct and solve whatever problems might arise.
This career path is not for the faint at heart and requires a high level of stress tolerance and prioritization. There will be hundreds of tasks to complete, many of which are time-sensitive. It is up to you to prioritize what is important and to delegate what does not require your direct involvement. But, this poses a challenge, as you first need good people working for you. With a business, this early in its inception, you are in a start-up. There is no human resources department to assist you; you are all on your own. Making the right hiring decisions are critical because if poorly chosen, you will not only endure productivity losses but have to spend time training new and additional staff.
However, if you can conquer all of this, the sense of fulfillment is worth all the while.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur and being your own boss?
Levi: The key thing I love about being an entrepreneur is making meaningful decisions that have a direct impact on our business.
What has been your earliest win or biggest success with the business thus far?
Levi: The earliest win thus far was having Footaction, a subsidiary of Footlocker, reach out to us to collaborate. As I write this Sole is inside the Eaton Center location adding value to the Footaction customer experience.
What can you share about your experience of using Ownr to register Sole Clean?
Levi: Ownr is the easiest way to get the ball rolling when starting a business. It is cost-effective and they make incorporation simple. Moreover, they provide detailed information regarding everything you will need to know, thus allowing you to focus on more important things, like writing a business plan and developing your brand.
What is that one business or life lesson that keeps you motivated and inspired as an entrepreneur?
Levi: When I was in high school, I picked up a part-time job at a retail store that I will not disclose. It may have been the worst thing I have ever done in my life. Why, because it wasn’t meaningful. I didn’t feel like the work that I was doing was adding value to the world. Everything I did felt inconsequential, and I wasn’t able to use any of my skills. From all this, I derived that I wanted to do meaningful work, and I knew that I could achieve that through having my own business.
What does it take to make it big in this industry?
Levi: To make it big you need to add value to your clients. Without that, you do not have a business.
What are your goals for Sole Clean?
Levi: My goal for sale is to reshape the life cycle of footwear.
Where can people learn more about Sole Clean?
Our website: https://www.soleclean.ca
Ready to start your business? Ownr is here to help! If you have questions about how to register or incorporate your business, give us a call at 1-800-766-6302, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm EST, or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.