Wavy Kickz is a shoe boutique located in downtown Richmond, VA. It has been heralded for its low prices yet quality sneakers. Check out our exclusive interview with two employees from the popular store.
We had the opportunity to sit down with local vintage clothing/shoe boutique, Round Two. The owners of this store, Chris Russow, Luke Fracher and Sean Weatherspoon, have garnered local and even national attention from the array of merchandise the store has to offer. From retro Jordans to retro Nike jumpsuits, Round Two has it all. Watch to find out about how Round Two got started and its plans for the future.The second installment to our exclusive interview with Round Two! Listen to co-owners Luke Fracher and Chris Russow talk about why they are the best vintage/shoe boutique store in the city, who has the best shoe game of the trio, their fav kicks and more!
What sparked your passion for coffee?
About 3 and a half, four years ago a buddy of mine, Brad. I was talking to him about coffee all the time and he always used to bring me some. He always used to roast it in a popcorn popper in his oven. Then he started getting crazy with it…selling cold brew on the beach. I remember I asked him, “How do you make cold brew?” So he invited me over; one time turned into three times a week making cold brew and learning to roast coffee with he and his wife, Amy. I also got lessons from Lamplighter and learned about their roastery as well. It [making coffee] used to excite me, intrigue me, and frustrate me all at the same time. For me it wasn’t just about the coffee; it was about the experience, the history, and the ways I could alter it [coffee].
Mikey Hanson serving customers at Alchemy Coffee
Would you say making great coffee is an art?
I think anything that someone creates with his or her hand or his or her mind should be considered art. However, there are some things that are considered art that I think are just stupid. Art is learning how these small interactions between certain compounds and components work and once you understand them that’s when the real creativity starts.
So as a practical in comparison to the music industry, there are good artists and gimmick artists. Can you say the same about the coffee industry?
So I would be the non-gimmick artist. You will come in to where I work and you’ll see all these pro tools, my nice production studio, but then you watch the way I approach the process and notice that I take it very, very seriously. But, if you were to go to a Starbucks, it’s more mechanical and “turn-key” operation and there is no personable relationship there. Much like gimmick artists’ music, there is no personable relationship there. This is different from what those like Common and KRS-One would be preaching. I will never want to wear that apron of some guy that I will never meet. I want to know that my boss is grinding as hard as I am.
How has the coffee business changed in Richmond in the past few years?
As far as Virginia goes, it is kinda of overlooked. So most go to DC, Philly or New York, or Conneticut, where you have the beautiful and amazing roasteries and cafes. From DC to Philly, it skips over Virginia and then to North Carolina. Most people just don’t know that there are roasteries here. But, I still the coffee culture has grown for the better. The consumer has more knowledge of their drinks because they are now asking for drinks that they normally wouldn’t ask for. There are those that hate on Starbucks, but it was them who are the reason for this increased knowledge.
I heard you give lessons about the history of coffee and how to brew it as well, tell us more about it.
So, I kind of approach it like a school setting. I don’t wanna bombard you the first day with formulas and everything. Now, I have a whole new lesson plan that I will be using for the next 6 to 8 months. I’ll be doing this every first Friday of the month to kind of flow with First Fridays, which is a good time for everyone to come out. First off, we would cover history and how coffee has become what it is today. The funny thing is the history of coffee is one of the craziest things I’ve ever read. It’s crazy how prevalent coffee was in every revolution or war. Coffee is just f*****g crazy, that’s it.
Alchemy Coffee's coffee grinder
Do you think coffee has been stigmatized to the younger generation?
You look at the 35 and older age group and they just want their coffee on way. ‘Just give it to me dark roasted, with milk and sugar. But, it’s also cool to not give them that. I like changing their whole minds. Here, a bunch of college kids just want shots of expresso. I think the older you get, the more milk and sugar you get. The younger you are the more likely you are to get frappuccinos or the like. However, there are some younger people like my friends that prefer black coffee because they understand that these beans [coffee beans] are beautiful.
Describe your ideal cup of coffee.
If it’s hot out, I like iced coffee. My favorite iced coffee would have to be Pete’s Coffee Roaster in Kansas City, MO. They brewed a coffee that tasted like leather and it smelled like tobacco…it was amazing. My ideal hot cup of coffee would one have to be when Brad and Amy roasted me a Mexican chiapas and it was just phenomenal. Also, Onyx Coffee Labs in Arkansas. They made an espresso for me and it tasted like a mouthful of pennies covered in chocolate, it was so tight.
- Sterling Giles
For more information on Mikey Hanson and/or Alchemy Coffee and Three Ships, click the following:
Mikey Hanson: Instagram
SQDRN Creative Members Sewell Brewer, Wave Wheat, Oshane Thomas, and Omar Ijaz sat down with us to discuss their clothing brand, SQDRN. You can follow them on Instagram at @squadroncreatives and Tumblr at squadroncreatives.
A great deal of time and effort goes into opening a small business. Broad Street’s newest stand-out shop is no different. After six months of hard work, what started as an idea has become monumental.
Monument Shoe Boutique opened on Oct. 3rd at 823 W. Broad St. The shop’s creative director, Herman Asberry, had a goal of creating new staples in the community. Asberry and co-owner Rashawn Davis designed the store with the purpose of having a customer walk in and feel like family. With a vibrantly-lit interior and the game “NBA 2k15” on the Xbox One, the store’s creative design completes Asberry’s vision of a concept boutique.
“To me a concept boutique is a store where the idea of the status quo is challenged,” Asberry said. “We don’t cater to one walk of life or lifestyle. We offer pieces to compliment any lifestyle.”
The shop’s owners created Monument to be a specialty shop with a focus on footwear and clothing, as well as creating a steady clientele.
“Nobody who comes in our store will forget the experience,” said stockroom manager Derrick Buskey.
The boutique carries an exclusive shoe collection meant to satisfy any customer who steps inside. The store’s walls are lined with stylish clothing from brands such as 10Deep, SSUR and Kennedy, in addition to denim from local manufacturer Shockoe Denim.
The shop’s centerpiece in the back of the store is named the Vault, where only premiere footwear is displayed such as the Fly Kix ATL X FILA USA Original Fitness “Peach State” collaboration, and Nike Air Huarache.
“Even if described perfectly, (the Vault) still would not produce the same effect as looking at it does,” Asberry said.
Asberry’s relationships with different shoe vendors allows the shop to offer sneakers that would be difficult to find otherwise.
“You won’t find the Peach State FILA’s in any other store in Virginia,” Asberry said. “I know some of our vendors’ reps and associates, so that creates a tight network.”
Aware of the competition close by, Monument owners maintain a relationship with everyone in the local market.
“The competition is friendly, everyone has a space,” Asberry said. “The (Wavy Kicks) managers visited us the other day. It’s all love, we’re all in the city and we’re doing our part.”
The store’s exclusive collection is available in time for students to pick up a pair of Nike basketball shoes and test their skills on the Cary Street Gym courts. Connecting to VCU’s innovative culture, Monument’s owners are hoping to expand their brand.
“Richmond has become an epicenter for fashion, music and arts,” Asberry said. “What we are doing is trying to help usher in a stronger push into the more contemporary.”
Monument is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays at 823 W. Broad St.
In recent years, African-American heritage has lost its prominence as attention has been diverted to fairer skinned ethnicities. However, Paige Tate, as an African-American female, wants to break this trend.
This was one of the sources of inspiration for the birth of Tate’s self-owned business, With Love, Woman. The purpose of the business was to promote the uniqueness and beauty of the African-American race.
“I genuinely love being black,” Tate said. “Some people see it as a curse or a stamp of the struggle, but I see it as something very beautiful.”
Tate started up her business in the fall of last year. She feels the reason why start-up businesses like her own are possible in Richmond is the fact that the city embraces diversity and creativity.
“I think Richmond loves a creative person and loves crazy and unique individuals and it loves people who have something different to offer,” Tate said.
Despite being from a retirement town in the Virginia Beach area, the city was not a culture shock for Tate. Her parents are both natives of New York and Tate herself often visits New York City several times a year.
Tate utilized her art background in her business ventures and products. Originally, she made jewelry but found that it didn’t produce a significant profit. Thereby, she decided to go into creating her own t-shirts.
As mentioned earlier, as an effort to exhibit her profound appreciation for African-American heritage, she named her clothing line, “Melanin”. By definition, melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Additionally, dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people.
Tate has produced several designs but her most popular t-shirt is the one that mirrors the text overlay from the popular 1990s show, Martin.
For several months, Tate handled all of the functions of her business. However, recently, she hired someone to run her marketing and social media. With Love, Woman is currently an exclusive online business and Tate would like it to remain that way for now. She would like to avoid the bills and complications of owning a storefront property and stick to the convenience of the online format. However, she did admit when the time comes, she may consider looking into leasing a storefront space.
Thus far, Tate likes where her business is going. She currently has several business ventures and partnerships planned for the near future.
Tate recalls being frustrated last year about why other young entrepreneurs had their own businesses. But, she realized she was the reason why she hadn’t started her own business and she finally decided to take action.
“You are the only person standing in your way,” Tate said. “If you want something you have to go out and get it, no one is going to hand it to you.”
However, Tate feels she differs from other start-up businesses in the realm of promotion.
“It’s more than just making money to me,” Tate said. “I’m trying to scale back from putting my product out there but rather putting my message out there.”
- Sterling Giles