D W Y A N E W A D E x U G L Y D U K L I N G
Dwyane Wade launches Li-Ning Way of Wade 4 ‘All Stars’ sneaker at Ugly Dukling the Lifestyle Sneaker Boutique for basketball sneakers
Photo credit: Eames Alexander | @thisiseames Interview: Ashley Hassard | @thehassard
“We are really excited to have the Li-Ning Wade of Way 4 sneakers available at Ugly Dukling during All Star week.” Says Melissa Davis, Founder and CEO of sneaker boutique Ugly Dukling. “Our customers get a chance to purchase one of the best functional basketball sneakers on the market today with a wonderful array of themed and inspired sneakers and meet Dwyane Wade.”
SKYN: Alright, so first question. What made you want to open up an exclusive sneaker boutique in Toronto?
Melissa: Well you know what, I actually started with clothing. Starting with hip hop clothing, Sean John, Enyce, then it evolved into luxury jeans and things like that. Then I brought home a pair of sneakers for my son when he was like 6, 7 years old and he said "Mommy are we selling these Jordans at the store?". And I said "...no we're not." Haha, and the next day I started making calls to getting the sneaker brands like Adidas and Nike... and they all said yes. That's how it kind of evolved. So I went from 100% clothing, then 80% clothing to 20% sneakers, and now we're at about 95% sneakers. So now I'm just holding down the fort until my son is old enough to take over his business, because it was his idea. That's how it all started. He's only turning 13 in April, but I'm so looking forward to the day when I can just be on that beach. So that's how I got into it.
SKYN: That's amazing. How's the feedback been so far?
Melissa: It's amazing, the culture is all about getting those exclusive limited styles and they all want what somebody cannot get. Limited colour... If it has an artist or an athlete attached to it... They'll line up for hours for it, days for it. You know, those guys [*pointing to the crowd of people outside] were lined up since Thursday night waiting in the cold in the coldest weekend in Toronto! So that shows you the power of the sneaker industry. I tell people all the time, I'm more afraid of Sneakerheads than the mafia. If they don't get their size in the sneaker they want, I literally come back here and hide. Like, they'll talk about me on the blogs, they'll say this girl didn't give me my size, they scare me to death when they don't get what they want. So I try my best to get the more exclusive, try to hit up more accounts, and try to get more colours from different companies. For example Puma is bringing 3 Colorways into Canada exclusive for Ugly Dukling. Hugo Boss, we're doing something really special with them. They're bringing a line they only sell in Germany, they're bringing it into Ugly Dukling for us, so we're excited, and now of course we have Way of Wade. So we have a lot of brands that are working with us, giving us sneakers that are only exclusive in Canada, and you can only get them at Ugly Dukling. It's great. So my dream of bringing something into the country that you can't get anywhere else is happening and I'm more excited to give that to the Sneakerheads. Just as a payback, kind of an homage to my Toronto Sneakerheads to make sure they're happy, so only they can get their hands on it.
SKYN: That's incredible, so we also notice you recently branched out into Hudson Bay and Topshop. How do you think having your sneakers there will change the face of exclusive sneaker shopping?
Melissa: Well, I think it will make it even better because it will be more accessible. Now that I'm in a large department store and I'm in Topman, two major brands in the world, and then you put Ugly Dukling in there, they really want to make us become that big household name too. But I don't want to lose anything and become a Footlocker or Champs. We'll always only have those exclusive pairs, the limited ones. I think it just adds more to the culture because we're in our own genre now. You know we're kind of in our own little genre now because it's never been done before to be in a department store and be in a shop. So, yeah... it's changing a lot and I'm happy about the way it's going so far.
SKYN: So you mentioned your son has a big influence on the company. Is he the one who chooses which shoes you guys place here?
Melissa: He has gone to one booking with me, but he kept complaining the whole time, "When is lunch?" "Can we go home?" He was so bored. So we'll try again in maybe 3 or 4 years, haha. But his favourite brand is Ewing, he loves the Ewing brand. It's his favourite shoe to wear. He wants me to give all of his friends a pair at school. So I'm like, "Well are they going to buy a pair?!" and he's like "Uh, no..." Haha.
SKYN: So what's your favourite pair that you carry.
Melissa: I'm going to have to go with New Balance or Saucony. I'm all about comfort now, so I love these two because they're fashionable and you can wear them with cool stylish clothing.
SKYN: Ok last one, you're an incredible entrepreneur. Do you have any advice for other young up and comers who are trying to break into the industry?
Melissa: Never give up. You're going to hear "No" a lot with whatever you're trying to start in. You're going to hear "No" everyday and you just can't listen to that. Just always keep living your dream. Keep fighting for whatever you want, and find a way, another alternative way, to get the "yes". That's all.
SKYN: Phenomenal. Thanks so much Melissa! Looking forward to working together more in the future.
Dwyane Wade | @dwyanewade
Ugly Dukling CANADA | @uglyduklingcanada | uglydukling.ca
WAY OF WADE | @wayofwade | www.wayofwade.com
Special thanks to:
Melissa Davis, Founder and CEO of Ugly Dukling
Marjorie Wallens - MJW Communications
Ashley Hassard | @thehassard | www.ashleyhassard.com
Eames Alexander | @thisiseames | www.thisiseames.com
AGMD Group | www.agmdgroup.com | Redtip Productions | @thenextgeorgejung