A GENTLE MANUAL EXCLUSIVE: THE MAN BEHIND SOLE PURPOSE BOUTIQUE
We came across a boutique in Houston, Texas that would make any sneakerhead salute. Owned by Sean Otis, Sole Purpose is a store focused on the latest and greatest in men’s and women’s streetwear.
The Gentle Manual had a chance to speak with Sean about the importance of personally believing in your product and how far Sole Purpose has come in it’s short time:
What is your business all about?
Sean: “Sole Purpose specializes in different brands from across the world. We pay attention to the current status of street fashion, whether it be new companies trying to make their mark or classic labels that we’ve always loved. One of the things people often misinterpret about Sole Purpose is that we carry old school “urban” wear versus streetwear. We provide a classy approach to streetwear. Another focus at Sole Purpose is being able to provide limited edition products. When someone is interested in our style of apparel, it’s something they’re putting some thought and heart into. The relationships I’m able to create with our customers is incredible too. So many opportunities if you’re doing things for the right reasons.”
How did you get started?
“Sole Purpose was started because of my passion and motivation for fashion. I started in ’08, but had always wanted to get something like this together. Some events really changed my drive and focus at a certain point in my life, so I made the decision to put everything in place and finally get my dream off the ground. I’ve always been around fashion and the whole sneaker lifestyle really grabbed me.”
How do you select your in-store brands?
“In all honesty, everything I sell I’d wear myself. It’s that simple. If I wouldn’t wear it, I won’t sell it. A lot of stores jeopardize their integrity with carrying certain brands because they think they should. All in all, if you believe in what you’re selling that truly translates to your customers and they’re going to to trust you almost as a fashion consultant.”
How has Houston responded to Sole Purpose?
“The Houston market has definitely responded well. It’s the fourth largest city in the country and there’s a demand for this genre of fashion here. We aim to be the one who provides that to Houston and beyond. It’s a close knit market here. I have a affluent customer base. Usually well educated and aware; they know what they’re looking for and know we have it.”
What have you learned from taking this project on by yourself?
“I get asked all the time, and it’s simple: It’s trial and error. You just hope you don’t go broke doing it. Doing this with absolutely no experience in opening/running a business had me learning every step of the way. The hardest thing for me is buying for the store. Buying for a market that is behind. Something you might think will sell might not. Texas doesn’t have seasons really, so that can be limiting at times. It’s really about purchasing the right inventory. I can genuinely say I took what I’ve learned from street smarts and applied it to my business demeanor to create something I really feel gives me a greater advantage than the normal entrepreneur.”
What are your long term goals for Sole Purpose?
“Definitely multiple retail outlets. Not too many though. I don’t want to lose the comfortable atmosphere I’ve provided as a retailer. If I started opening stores everywhere I couldn’t keep as much attention to each location as I’d like. Austin in a year or so is my current focus. Also in-house brands are a main focus of mine right now. Having the Sole Purpose brand in other accounts around the world is really my ultimate goal. I envision it being in shops just like mine in places with people that care and know about streetwear. For now, I just take it a day at a time. Planning along the way and making my progression my own. I’m happy with what I’ve done in the time I’ve done it.”
Check out Sole Purpose’s website to see more and find some fresh gear.