This shoe care really cares.
Shoe Laundry – a new shoe care brand based in Toronto – is the first Canadian-made, completely natural, sustainable, and plant-based brand on the market.
We caught up with CEO & Founder Amir Alamsahebpour (also known in the DJ world as Crunch) about the path that brought him to Shoe Laundry, plus how he managed to launch and pivot a kick-ass business in the middle of a global pandemic.
Where did the idea for Shoe Laundry start?
I view everything I’ve done in life as its own chapter. I left school to be a DJ, touring through Canada and diving into the local DJ and sneakerhead scenes there. Then I went back to school, graduating with a degree in science. After working in hospitals as a researcher, I wanted to find a way to close that chapter and unite all my passions. I knew there was no longevity in DJing. Past a certain age, that’s a reality all DJs have to face. But I still wanted to make my contribution to the culture, to science, and to Toronto. That’s where Shoe Laundry began! It’s my way of connecting every chapter of my life and staying a part of my hometown.
What makes it different from other shoe care brands?
A lot of people are surprised to learn that the current shoe care brands on the market are not natural or sustainable. Shoe Laundry is the first green and clean premium shoe care brand, designed and formulated in Canada. Our innovative foam-based shoe cleaner uses Coco Glucoside, an all-natural cleaning agent derived from coconuts that is proven to remove dirt and stains. We designed an incredible cleaning brush that has plant-based, sisal fibre bristles and a handcrafted bamboo wood handle, so it’s 100% biodegradable. And our reusable, unbleached microfibre cloth is super absorbent, perfect for excess foam or dirt. Plus, our packaging is completely compostable and made from post-consumer waste – no single-use bottles here. Our formula is free from harsh chemicals, so it won’t cause discoloration or damage to your shoes. And – after all of that – our cleaner just works. It gives your kicks an easy, effective, and high-quality clean, with no hassle and no water needed.
Tell us about your experience launching a business during COVID-19.
It’s been an adventure! First off, our business plan had to include COVID-19 threats and precautions. But mostly, the pandemic caused us to totally adjust our marketing strategy. We had big plans for in-person events and education – like Sneaker Con – where we could show people first-hand how well our shoe cleaner shoe cleaner works. The pandemic caused us to pivot to educating people through digital platforms. It’s a bit tougher because you need a bigger budget and you have to catch people’s attention right away. Plus, a lot of people are hesitant to be on social media at the moment. But for the time being, our marketing team is working hard to bring awareness to people in our community about Shoe Laundry and the importance of keeping it in our own backyard.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself (or your business) during the pandemic?
Patience! When you’re bringing a concept to market you have to be very patient. And when you’re doing it during a global pandemic? Yep, patience is definitely key. If you expect results the same day, it could lead to frustration and confusion. Results will happen. The most important thing is to take a few steps toward your goal every day. I’ve learned that being detail-oriented and results-oriented, paired with a ton of patience and understanding of others, is what makes launching a business so much more enjoyable (pandemic or not).
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of launching their first business?
Don’t go into launching a business thinking you can do everything by yourself. I encourage you to learn new skills and to educate yourself, but splitting your time and energy among everything means that you might miss something important. My biggest piece of advice would be to work with others. Hire someone you believe in (if you have the means) or ask someone to donate an hour of their time. Asking for support isn’t always about asking people to buy your product. It’s also about sharing knowledge and advice to become a better entrepreneur every day.
To show off your product, you’ve been collecting kicks from real people in Toronto and cleaning them for free. How has that impacted the launch of your business?
This was too much fun! This campaign was all about showing people that Shoe Laundry is effective, authentic and community-minded. We’ve seen so many ads where brands have clearly run a pair of new kicks through mud and then showed you the “before and after” results. We wanted to connect with real people in our city and their actual sneakers – sneakers that had been loved-up and worn out for years.
It was also a great way to create that one-on-one human connection and educate people in-person. We would talk to them when we picked up the shoes or explain how our product works through Instagram DMs. Plus, most people who got their shoes back (looking incredibly clean) ended up purchasing the product! Really, it was a way for us to reach out to our community while navigating uncertain times and show them how much love we put into this product.