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Alessandro Simons Interview

Alessandro Simons Interview

Tell us about your project:

SoleShape is all about sneakers, we are a resale business. We resell limited sneakers online and also in a popup shop in the city centre of Amsterdam. We sell Nike, Adidas, and New Balance as they are doing really cool collaborations lately and in the coming years. 

Did you always want to become an entrepreneur? What was the spark?

I didn’t really think about it like that when I was younger, I never knew what I wanted to do. When I came out of high school I started at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA) where I studied business administration. It was a good start for me; in the beginning, it was fine just going with the flow but in the end, it didn’t really give me that spark or that ‘this is it feeling. When I found out Unknown University of Applied Sciences existed I realized it was way more for me; it’s much more practical, you’re actually building something as opposed to the traditional type of school. It’s good to know that you’re getting the safety net of a degree, but in the end, you want to build a company. That’s the goal here. If you don’t build a company by the end of your journey then it’ll still be difficult to get to the next place in your life. In regards to the ‘spark’, when I work with sneakers there’s a sense of joy to it. I really get excited when a new pair comes out, it’s not just about how much you can profit. When you see everyone camping out to get those new pair of sneakers and everyone wants the same item and you get it, you’re really happy. Also, I remember my father telling me ‘don’t work for somebody, only work for yourself.’ That helped me with a certain doubt, he was always supportive of my choices and then definitely helped me start my entrepreneurial journey. 

Tell us about your pop-up shop:

It’s in the city centre of Amsterdam, on Staalstraat, it’s a really small storefront. It’s a nice palace where you can try and see the limited sneakers for yourself. Starting in this space was definitely an experience, it wasn’t my initial idea to have a physical store as a lot of businesses are going online. But especially for these sneakers, people pay a lot, so they want to see and feel them and know that the business they’re buying them from is legit. It’s good to have a connection with your clients and build a relationship with them. Anyways although I wasn’t planning on opening a shop in the city centre, a friend of mine from Unknown University of Applied Sciences who owns the property asked if I maybe wanted to put shoes there just for some advertisement. From there we just sort of grew it into a shop where people could try on and buy the sneakers. It was a nice change from having to store all the shoes in my apartment. 

Is SoleShape something you can see yourself growing? How will you RISE as an entrepreneur?

I have a couple of ideas, I of course want to have the store. I think it’s good when people want to see the sneakers, a lot of people know me from Instagram and they live far away but they still message me asking when I’m open so they can see them for themselves and try them on. I need to grow further into online stuff, I need to expand and do more collaborations. Right now I’m really focused on sneakers but the biggest thing I want to change in the future is I want to sell some more clothing, and accessories as well. 


Has being a student at Unknown University helped your journey?

Yeah, of course, I think if I wasn’t here I wouldn’t have started this company. You need that little push but in the end, you do it yourself. If you’re not consistent or putting in the effort, you’re not going to build a company or something that looks like that. Unknown University really helps with giving that first push, in the beginning, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do. Unknown University really helped with that. And getting feedback from Thomas Blekman really shaped how I viewed my company, and really allowed for it to grow. My experience with the Value Creation module, I really saw what I could do and wanted to do with my business; and was able to test it there. After that, it was just effort.