Sole Searching

I’ve worked at a local San Francisco shoe/street wear store for almost two years now. And baby, it’s been one of the most interesting adventures of my life! I’m serious. I mean it!

It seems fitting that I would blog about this seeing that we are about ready to re open the doors to our main store at 1415 Haight Street this weekend. I’ve watched both the store itself, and its employees go through trials, tribulations and everyday life. For me, it’s been a growing and changing experience.

First, I’d like to thank my good friend and fellow employee, Andre Schneider, for inviting me into this wonderful world of athletic/collector shoes and streetwear. Before working at TRUE SOLE, where I originally started, I owned something like 3-4 pairs of athletic shoes. I thought, “you wear them to the gym, right? You have one shoe to exercise indoors and one for outdoor exercise.” Boy, was I wrong.

For some, sneakers are a fashion statement, a work of art, or even a symbol of wealth. While I’m still trying to grasp this idea, I have come to terms with the idea that a pair of Air Jordans are just as expensive (and possibly just as comfortable) as a pair of Uggs. But why is it that I have to think about purchasing a pair of sneakers for about a week, but then, won’t even bat an eyelash when purchasing a pair of Uggs? Maybe it’s just preference. (P.S. I’m still thinking about buying those sneakers and P.P.S I know you all hate me/ won’t allow me into the back room while wearing Uggs.)

My adventure in the streetwear/clothing retail world, on the otherhand, began about a year ago when our two main stores, in San Francisco, California were forced to merge due to a two-alarm fire that happened on the morning of August 11, 2011. Before this, I pretty much only knew what I had taken from working in the corporate world of Nordstrom (my first job, at the tended age of 16…my that was sooo long ago). Through the course of the year, I’ve observed the process of how clothing is made and what groups certain products are marketed to etc. It’s been quite the learning experience, if I do say so myself. In turn, it’s such a gratifying experience to work with a smaller business where you get to learn the basics of how things are run. You’ll learn mostly about business, but how to apply that to your everyday life.

Besides the matter of shoes and clothing, the environment is wonderful! Haight Street is full of various people. There’s the locals, the tourists, the trustifarians, and the just plain weirdos (but what’s weird for Haight Street, right?). I can proudly say that after about two years, my French has improved, my english has improved, and of course, my tolerance for rudeness has gone WAY up. We get customers from all over so there’s always a variety of people I’m coming in contact with. Besides the customers, my fellow employees are just a joy to work with. On regular days, there’s usually alot of time to sit around and enlighten each other with our lives’. To me, this is such a joy! I love listening to people from all walks of life. And I know everyone loves to talk about themselves. It’s really a perfect situation for me.

With that, I can’t even express enough how much working with this company has truly changed my life. Two years ago, they gave me the chance to work with them. I didn’t have the skill set to work in retail, since I hadn’t even worked a real job in over a year! From that, I’ve learned my biggest lesson:

When someone gives you a chance, take it. And take it with grace and respect. 

Besides that, I’ve learned alot more. Like never to burn bridges, only borders. I’ve burned alot of these, “borders,” with TRUE. I never knew about shoes, clothing, or even retail, but I allowed myself to learn. Again, they gave me the chance. So I asked as many questions as possible, learned, and am continuing to learn. APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t this just a part-time job for this young, naive girl? Why is she talking about it like it’s her life career?” Yes, it is a part-time job for me, and no I don’t plan to make a career out of this (or am I?). But I have had many part-time/freelance jobs in my short 23 years of life. Yes, most of those were just, “jobs,” to me. They seemed alot colder, less welcoming, and more money driven than anything. TRUE has allowed me to take a ton of chances, make mistakes and learn from them, and especially has shown, and will continue to show me what discipline in working is.

But ok, I’ll have to cut this inspiration/sob story/whatever it is short. With inspiration from the structure of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, maybe you caught my two head fake’s here? Well, the first obvious one was about taking chances when they’re given to you (remember that, strictly), but the second is to invite you all to come visit the new store. We open Saturday, and while I’m not scheduled to work, I hope you will all be there, because I will!

Cheers!

The best picture I could find. The store as it looked, the first day I worked there:

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