A single of Oakland’s youngest black organization homeowners has weathered pandemic shutdowns and relocation to start a vibrant new store on Lakeshore Avenue where by he aims to create group and support regional youth.
29-year-aged Christian Walker grew up as a “sneakerhead,” obtaining much more than 100 pairs of sneakers by the time he was 18.
Decades back, his most effective pal and very little cousin broke into his home and stole all of his belongings, together with all of his shoes.
“But still, less than two yrs afterwards, I had constructed my assortment back again up and recognized I experienced a knack for this, and perhaps a dilemma,” he laughed.
He used time doing the job in retail shops and shoe boutiques, only to see several of them shutter as sales moved online and industrial rents in the Bay Place grew untenable. Walker developed associations early in his career by means of obtaining at trade displays and constantly expanding his accounts and make contact with lists.
Walker told us his time doing the job in Sole Room in Oakland, (formerly situated on Telegraph among 17th and 18th), and viewing it shut down, led him to decide it was time to attempt his hand at running a business enterprise.
“Once Sole Place closed, type of out of nowhere, I just labored to open my possess store, constructing off of existing relationships” in the shoe retail place, Walker said. He experienced designed ties with shoe models and style ambassadors for the duration of his shorter but productive career, and discovered a way to leverage them to help his new shop.
His retail store, Studios, opened on Telegraph Avenue in November 2019, just a few small months right before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered in-human being buying and built model-launching activities extremely hard.
Alternatively than supplying up, Walker doubled down. He has consistently presented on the internet procuring selections, but discovered innovative methods to continue to be engaged with opportunity clients over social media. But the rent at the Telegraphe Avenue place was not negotiable and he began seeking for new areas.
Walker stated shifting to the Lakeshore site (at 3319 Lakeshore Ave., near Trestle Glen) was “kind of a massive hazard,” offered the window busting that has been a recurrent concern in the location just lately. But the residence owners are “really nice people” and he was in a position to entirely reopen in Could 2021 soon after a number of rounds of negotiations.
In the new area, Studios provides shoes and city apparel, as perfectly as barber services. Walker also hosts songs and cultural events, as nicely as custom shoe and trend workshops.
Past sneakers, Studios delivers hats, apparel, and barber companies. | Studios/ Facebook
“It’s greater than me,” Walker mentioned. “I want to spark some brains in the local community.”
He observed that business homeowners of coloration are tremendous rare in the surrounding neighborhood, and he hopes to inspire and affect youth to generate and chase their tips, regardless of the hurdles or opposition they deal with.
“I dreamed of possessing a shoe retailer, and now I have a room to encourage other young folks in Oakland,” he stated. His mother, Ashara Ekundayo, has similarly labored to create an arts neighborhood and nearby venues to aid beneath-identified artists of color and present stores for area youth.
Studios’ new place on Lakeshore has considerably a lot more foot targeted traffic than Walker noticed in his first Oakland place, and there is a broad range of consumers, from kids just finding fascinated in fashion to older people with more disposable revenue. Walker aims to cater to all, giving every little thing from regular Vans to personalized-created solutions that can cost extra than $250 for every pair.
He also intends to host situations that create local community in Oakland’s beneath-appreciated Lakeshore spot. You can sign up for the store’s mailing record or comply with Studios on social media to keep up to day on new activities and customized layout workshops.
“I tell folks you need to have to hold investing in by yourself,” Walker explained. “Invest in you, your family, and your community. Getting a business enterprise can support you do that.”
Studios is open Mondays midday to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays via Saturdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.