Steve Grear founded Reshoevn8r in 2010, after getting the idea while cleaning some shoes for sale on eBay. Over the past ten years, the shoe cleaning brand has led the industry in terms of shoe care innovation. Today, the ompany continues to provide top-notch and cutting edge shoe care products on the market.
At Reshoevn8r, Steve Grear has “created and fostered a community of sneaker enthusiast through their commitment to education.” The brand continues to enjoy a strong following on social media, led by a YouTube channel that has over 1 million followers. Among the content they produce are “weekly cleaning tutorials and sneaker customs and restorations.”
Reshoevn8r and Steve Grear remain committed to fulfill their customers’ needs as well as to provide an “engaged, transparent customer experience that is unmatched in the shoe care industry.”
Aside from providing effective shoe care products, Steve Grear and Reshoevn8r also follows their corporate values of giving back to the community. The company’s mission statement says, “Offer incredible shoe care products, make people feel good, and give back to the community.”
As thanks for customers’ support to Reshoevn8r, Steve Grear leads the brand in paying it forward to the members of their community. The company volunteers regularly with non-profits in the Phoenix area, “offering our time to support refugees, the homeless, under resourced schools, and more.”
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I don’t want to sell you a product that won’t work for your situation, I would rather tell you it won’t work and then work hard to figure out WHY it didn’t work, and what we can do to fix that problem. Steve Grear, Reshoevn8r
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Steve Grear: We have 1,000,000 subscribers on our YouTube channel where we offer hundreds of cleaning tutorials and when we damage a shoe, or something doesn’t work we actually show it. This is an area that I refuse to compromise our integrity. My team will never hide results or cover up errors. We point areas of opportunity out so when you receive our product, you don’t make the same mistake. Integrity is huge when you’re selling products to consumers. Your customers need to feel that you aren’t trying to trick them into something that actually won’t work. I don’t want to sell you a product that won’t work for your situation, I would rather tell you it won’t work and then work hard to figure out WHY it didn’t work, and what we can do to fix that problem
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Steve Grear: I would recommend having fun! The stress at times was crippling, but I knew that I needed outlets of fun to keep going. Also, make sure you have people around you that you like hanging out with. When I say hang out… Not just for an hour or two — I hung out with my core group of people from 14–15 hours a day for weeks at a time perfecting our product. It seems that in the early days before I felt like that was so much on the line it was easier to just have fun.
Now that we have more employees and substantial overhead, it becomes a little more taxing and more challenging to just having fun. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a great time, our office setting is super relaxed, we built an on-site gym to work out some frustrations and we have partnered with amazing companies that allow my associates to break away from the world and let loose — all of those are the perks of working your tail off to make your dream a reality.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Steve Grear: To build Reshoevn8r, there have been so many people that have helped. From huge contributions of ideas or concepts to friends that would swing by the garage and bring me dinner because I was so absorbed that I forgot to eat.
The “one” that really helped get things going was my buddy, Rob.
Rob was the first to have the time, fresh ideas, and put in the work needed to see traction on the Brand. It was about a year after I launched the website, and I was looking for someone to help me. He was a great fit because he was into sneakers and social media, more than me, so after a few discussions we just started working on it every day and slowly started building the Instagram page and started seeing more traction and consistent sales.
About a year later we hit up a couple of our buddies and asked them to join the team and moved to Phoenix AZ. It was Myself, Rob, Fran, and Akil all living in the same house shipping orders out of the garage. This was really the beginning of the brand and a pivotal time for the company.
The people that I have surrounding me at Reshoevn8r now, are truly next-level thinkers. I have the privilege of working with people every day who challenge me, excite me, and are moving this company forward at lightning speed. It is an amazing opportunity to lead a company of professionals, with a common goal and then seeing it come to fruition. I couldn’t do what I’m doing without the people in my past that helped, pushed, and even doubted me — just like I couldn’t continue to do it with the current people I have now.
Businesses that relied on retail, or brick and mortar stores, are starting to put more energy into online shopping.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
Steve Grear: The shift from retail sales to e-commerce sales has been a huge economic shift. With more consumers shopping online than ever before, due to the Pandemic, eCommerce companies are really trying to make online shopping a better experience.
A huge shift that I see is better-looking and better-operating sites that enhance customer experience, free shipping to consumers, no-hassle returns, free gifts, or add-on values, all the way to subscription-based models so your favorite items just arrive at your door without having to worry about running out.
Businesses that relied on retail, or brick and mortar stores, are starting to put more energy into online shopping. Luckily for us, we have always focused primarily online so we didn’t see a negative impact on our business due to the pandemic.
Jerome Knyszewski: Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
Steve Grear: Great question, I think brands really need to be able to connect with their customers and really cherish them. With so many emerging brands coming to market, brand loyalty isn’t as common as it was in the past.
People have options now, which is great! That is also the advantage of smaller brands like Reshoevn8r. We have the ability to communicate and connect in a more genuine way, which has increased our brand awareness in our industry and built an actual fan base.
A way that companies can stand strong during this emerging trend, is to shift their back-end support towards the best possible customer service model. With an abundance of sites vying for your attention when you are shopping online, retaining customers by offering a world-class customer support system will retain more customers over time.
Additionally, there are a good amount of people that do research before making a purchase — so the more value you can add after and during their purchase the better.
To be honest, we feel like our biggest competitor is Amazon — , even though we sell on Amazon!
The problem we see is Amazon doesn’t provide the seller with customer information. This essentially makes the customer THEIRS, and not directly OURS.
Two of the main reasons people shop on Amazon, other than the vast product catalog, is no hassle returns and 1–2 days shipping times. Companies who are going to continue to expand on their e-commerce sites have to be able to offer the same or better value on their personal sites, as they do on large consumer sites as well.
I think one of the biggest mistakes is not optimizing and updating your website, especially for mobile.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Steve Grear: I think one of the biggest mistakes is not optimizing and updating your website, especially for mobile. More and more people are shopping on their phones so it is imperative to be focused on mobile-friendly designs. Websites do not need to be overly complicated to be up to date and user-centric. I feel finding the right web-developer, graphics team, and e-commerce director have catapulted our customer experience in the right direction over recent years.
We have had 4 websites since launching 10 years ago, and we are always trying to improve the customer experience. This is something we will not compromise on. I might be spoiled, but I typically won’t purchase from a company if the site is outdated and challenging to navigate unless that is my only option. I’ve shopped with huge companies and smaller “mom-and-pop” stores — the user experience must be front and center for me to spend my money there.
Also, I feel that other CEOs/founders are making the mistake of not including shipping in the price of the product. When a customer goes to check out, they already have a price in mind that they are paying. When you add in taxes, and a shipping fee, customers will find other storefronts that offer that service for “free” even if they’re paying a little more for the actual product.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Steve Grear: I would say the most underestimated aspect of running an e-commerce business is the amount of content needed to stay relevant and fresh so you can drive traffic to your site. As I mentioned, there are a lot of brands out there and they are all fighting for your attention, so content is king.
We basically are a marketing/creative agency that promotes a product at the end of the day. Things happen so fast these days and people’s attention spans are short, so you really need to figure out how to grab their attention as often as possible and make it the most relevant to them.
When you are first starting out, you’re probably going to be doing things on your own if you haven’t found investors or your tribe of people who believe in you as much as you believe in your product. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find talented people to capture these trends in real-time and produce content that is up to date. Don’t underestimate the value of the people who are working with and for you. Top-level talent is a game-changer.
Don’t underestimate the value of the people who are working with and for you. Steve Grear
Jerome Knyszewski: One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?
Steve Grear: Great question and unfortunately no matter how good you are you won’t be able to please everyone, and you will receive negative reviews — guaranteed.
The opportunity lies in using legitimate ones as a learning lesson on how to improve. We were receiving bad reviews about shipping time and it made us figure out how to provide faster shipping for our customers. Most people are very reasonable when it comes to minor delays and issues, and if you communicate with them in a timely manner, they will still leave a positive review and appreciate you working with them and taking care of the problem. I personally think you should always respond to the negative reviews publicly and try to improve their experience, other customers will appreciate you working to reconcile the issue.
My suggestion to combat negative and unfair things said about your brand, is to offset the negative reviews with positive feedback. The challenge is some people only leave reviews if they are negative so making it easy for people to leave reviews is important as well.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Steve Grear: Check out Reshoevn8r on social media at @mr.reshoevn8r @reshoevn8r
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
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