What is the story behind Crep Protect?
It started with the 3 of us, 3 brothers.
Back in the day we owned a family carpet store, where we worked alongside our father. We always had a passion for sneakers, so much so, that we would regularly leave our suits at home and wear our caps and sneakers to work. Our father would say to us ‘how can you come to work and seriously present yourself in front of the customer like this?’ Today, it’s funny because this is the way we dress to work every day.
The idea for Crep Protect initially originated from the combination of a problem and opportunity that we were faced with. The opportunity came when we were testing out a protection spray for Carpets and Fabrics at our store. The problem arose when we were out wearing white trainers, and if you are living in London you can guess what happens – it rains! So we thought why not tweak the fabric spray and try it out on sneakers.
Excited about the idea and fascinated by the results, we decided to give it our all. Our brother, Imran, who is a creative genius and a person who thinks outside the box, did most of the development for the idea. And after much hard work and spending a year on R&D to perfect the formula, Crep Protect was born!
We then teamed up with J2K (Jason Black), who initially endorsed the product and brought Crep Protect into the music industry. This meant that we were able to get some of the biggest names in the UK grime scene to use and promote our product.
We created our first video with Joey Essex. Once that video went out on the web, Bank Fashion took notice– that was our first foot in with a retailer. They were impressed with the video and decided to give us a trial with a few of their stores. Bank Fashion was owned by JD Sports at the time and once one retailer came on board the rest followed. From here, the hype of Crep Protect had started.
It began on a hustle. Although we had worked together on many projects before and fell on our faces many times, we learnt from those experiences and improved. Entrepreneurs don’t always have every business working. The biggest loss would be to fail at something and think ‘I’m not going to do that again.’ We even had banks at the time saying no to us and that it didn’t make sense for them to finance a shoe protector. We went all in. We started Crep protect with £1500, remortgaged our mum’s house, sold our businesses and never looked back!
It genuinely started from a love and passion for sneakers and the fact that we knew we could do this. That’s why it grew so successfully. If we didn’t have that passion, all this wouldn’t have happened. Every day we come to work and we enjoy what we do. It honestly doesn’t even feel like we are working – we have made it our lifestyle.
Crep Protects mission is to become one of the world’s cleanest fashion technology in sneaker protection. After a year of R&D to perfect the formula, what lengths did the brand have to go to in order to develop a clean, environmentally friendly aerosol that could be sold worldwide?
Our product is aerosol based and only has a 10 minute drying time, whereas water based products can take up to 2 days. After all, no sneakerhead wants to look at the weather 2 days in advance to prep their trainers!
We chose to have production in the UK and Germany, to keep the standard of our products at a high quality – one of our key values. But moving aerosols around different countries was logistically a complicated process as it was a dangerous product to export.
After much research on the various regulations and laws for chemicals in each country, we managed to create our products to the specific formulas which were needed in order to meet the required criteria of our shipping destinations.
If you had one secret to success, what would that be?
The secret is hard work and the fact that us three brothers work well together. We know who works well at what, and we all trust each other. We have a great team, and good friends who saw the vision and even worked with us for free!
In our heads there is no limitation to what we can and can’t do. We can do it all if we put our mind to it and always give it a go.
This mind set of nothing is impossible came from our father who encouraged us to not just dream a dream but to actually go out and get it. He reminded us to always remain humble and not to let success phase us.
Unfortunately, our father passed away 5 years ago but working alongside him meant that not only did we gain knowledge about business, we also grew to understand the shared family values that play an important role in our success today.
Strong family orientation seems very important to you and to the success of Crep Protect. Could you comment on how this was the root to your achievements?
Our father and mother had a lot to do with this. We aren’t a family who came from wealth. We came from a working class family but our father gave us the best life that he was capable of giving within his means. He was really special and it’s a shame he didn’t get to see all this because he would have really loved it. But he instilled the values we carry today, which most definitely have helped us get to where we are now.
Our father would always tell us to never be ashamed to do anything, no matter how big or small, or even how it may look to others, never be embarrassed. Within our culture to clean other people’s shoes is looked down upon, but at sneaker events with our ‘Crep Protect thrones’ we would be the ones getting our hands dirty you could say, cleaning peoples shoes, and it’s funny because customers would ask ‘who owns Crep protect’ and we would say ‘we do!’
What strategic routes were taken in advertisement to hit the audiences most suited to Crep Protect?
A lot of our success is down to how we marketed it and the visuals we created. We knew who our target audience were and we knew how to appeal to them. Crep Protect as a product is very much a ‘see it to believe it’ kind of thing, so videos of it in practice were essential. We had to take it to the next level because everyone knows what shoe protection is but no body visualises it!
With Jason (J2K), it worked really well because he was a social star, so he was able to engage with the target audience and push the product out into the market. At the same time social media was booming – meaning we had a good outlet for the lifestyle culture we created and for youngsters to see our videos and get it out there.
What is Crep Protects greatest achievement so far and could you send a message to others who may be fledgling entrepreneurs or individuals wanting some advice on becoming successful but also the importance of enjoying this journey too?
Back in the day, we used to see Adidas, Nike and Sneaker Freaker and now we are able to talk to these big names, we literally are in the same room having a conversation – this is the biggest achievement.
Coming from nothing and not being taken seriously to now being in 52 different countries within a 3-year span, is something that no other brand in the industry has achieved.
What is the future vision for Crep Protect?
“I want it to be as big as Redbull. Just like Redbull are focusing on extreme sports, we want to focus on Urban Lifestyle. Wherever there is something cool going about, you will see Crep Protect. That is my vision.” – Imran Ahmed