Sneaker Freakette’s unite! There’s a new joint in town and with a name like ‘No Boys Allowed’, it’s time for the boys to take a back seat and let the ladies rule supreme. Last week it was all about Club Zonder Filter and their L.A. Gear launch, this week it’s all Cim Froeling and her entrepreneurial trek into the sneaker business. Tired of the rhetorical callings for smaller sizes in her favourite kicks, what better way to shut the scene down by opening up your own store? Nice work if you can get it! We continue on ‘The Biz’ series with the other side’s perspective... Sit back, grab a cupcake and chill to the chimes of Cim Froeling!
Hey Cim, the Netherlands is coming into the colder weather now, was this a hard time to open a store?
Hi, the hardest part was to translate the images in your head onto paper and to make the total concept picture perfect. And to make the decision, am I really going to do this?
What is your background in retail and ‘sneaker obsession’ and how did this all lead to you opening your own store?
I worked in a clothing shop called Bendorff for 4 years and prior to that I attended International business-school and one year at the Fashion Institute. My parents are entrepreneurs, so I grew up knowing about the risks and the dedication that you have when you're doing your own thing. It became obvious that I would be my own boss in the future. I was a dancer and me and my friends were in a group doing graffiti and hip-hop. I was like 15 years old, so everything was really innocent. My hoodies & Fila sneakers were my favorites. Getting older I tried to dress more feminine and combined sneakers with the usual girly stuff and made it my own style. My love for sneakers didn’t vanish, it only became stronger.
What was the final decision that set in stone that there needed to be a ‘girls only’ store in the Netherlands?
My boyfriend has a huge passion for sneakers as well, so when we got together a bomb exploded. When we bought a house, the first thing we did was make a shoe closet. My frustration is that I love the old school, not the typical ‘I'm a girl so I want flowers’, sneakers and with a size 5 it's hopeless. So on my search for sneakers in my size I constantly saw the same frustrations reoccur.
How many shop names did you come up with before you settled on ‘No Boys Allowed’?
The first one was 'No Boys Allowed' as in NBA. When we would tell people, we kept getting mixed feedback. And to tell you the truth, the feedback was not always so good. So I thought of many more names but no other name felt as right as 'No Boys Allowed'. NBA is more for myself, a statement of my love for the original basketball sneaker. Funny thing is, as soon as I told people that this was what the name was going to be, everyone said "what a great name", haha!
It seems the females are taking over on your side of the world with Club Zonder Filter coming to international attention with their revival of L.A. Gear and now you with ‘No Boys Allowed’. Is there a sense of strong feminine power coming through and leading the way in Europe at the moment?
Yeah, how cool is that! They've done a great job on the L.A. Gears! Women are very supportive of each other. Especially in the world of sneakers, it's a little bit of a man’s world. Women first have to prove themselves to be taken seriously. Strange, but it still happens.
Speaking of the L.A. Gear revival, your store is the first to stock the new range with the L.A. Gear Stardust. How has it been selling, did the demand meet supply?
That's not exactly true. There are 50 selected stores in Europe. There's already a list of girls that have reserved the 'Stardust'. They drop on the 10th of October, so I'm very curious how it will develop. As for myself, I'm a huge fan.
What are some of the other brands ladies will find instore?
Adidas, Keep, Asics, DC, Converse, Springcourt, Reebok, Nike, JB Classics, Creative Recreation, Vision and in a few months Supra.
How do you gauge what the girls want when it comes to stocking the brands? Do you research thoroughly when bringing labels instore, or do you work on what you like to see and what you think will sell?
I like to think that I have a close affinity with the streets. I often use my friends and myself as a clipping board. I think that's the thing with most shops, the men are the ones who stock the place. They don't realize that girls want the same sneakers. The one with the history, with the original colors. I buy a lot of sneakers in small sizes. Many brands make unisex now so you just have to ask for it. Also the internet is a big inspiration. We look for new things every day.
One person cannot open a sneaker store alone. Who did you look for to help out with starting your business, and how long was the process from fantasy to reality?
The idea for this shop started little more than a year ago. First thing I did was a market research. Were there shops that I missed? Is The Hague the right place? Where do I want my shop to be? Is it possible collection-wise? When I found the perfect place, I made a business plan and found an investor. From there on it went very quickly and now it's a reality.
Did you get any advice from Kendo in L.A., the only other store geared directly to females?
No, I didn't really ask. When I started I found Laces in NY, but I couldn't find any info about them. Further in the process I found Kendo. I wanted to mail, but I still haven't. I'm going to, because I have to congratulate them on the Adidas collabo!
Why do you think there are only two stores in the world that target the female demographic?
I think most people think it's too tricky, because many people think it's just hype and after the hype, women are not the ones to rely on. I obviously don't think it's true. But they were the comments that I got when I started this.
A lot of younger heads and especially females email me regularly asking for advice on how to open a sneaker store and getting accounts etc. How did you go about this and is there any tips you can give to our readers that are interested in venturing into their own business?
Be nice, don't think that you'll get every account you want in an instant. The brands are not getting rich from your shop, it's pure image. You have to prove your store to be worthy and that takes time and can be frustrating at times.
You recently had the launch of the store at the beginning of the month. What was the reaction to ‘No Boys Allowed’ and how will you continue to uphold the excitement set by opening night?
It was a very nice party. A DJ was turning the tables, the weather was nice, so we could go outside. We had lots and lots of homemade cupcakes, cocktails and of course champagne. The flyers for the opening night were stickers, so it was nice to see them on all the bikes and lampposts and such. The stickers are a hit, so I have just had them made in more colors. Holland is small, so news travels fast. And we're busy making the website better as well.
Are there any direct plans for the future to bring out your own apparel line or to collaborate with a brand? If so who would be your dream collaborator?
I am going to make some tank-tops and tees with the logo and a tracksuit. Well, to design a shoe, that's like every sneaker lovers dream! But there are a lot of collabos at the moment. I like the ones with Asics the most so I think Asics, or L.A. Gear would be sooo cool too. We'll see, you never know. Maybe I'll launch my own brand some day.
Where will we see ‘No Boys Allowed’ in 5 years?
It would be cool if 'No Boys Allowed' would be a well-established name in the industry. And that I'm still in the shop working my ass off because it's so busy. Hahaha! I’m pretty ambitious and I'm really focused to make this shop into a success! We'll see what comes on the way.
Props to Shooto for the extra images!