In a world where sneakers have transcended their functional purpose to become a powerful form of self-expression, one brand stands out as a pioneer in helping consumers preserve the pristine allure of their most cherished footwear. The UK’s Crep Protect, founded in 2012 by three brothers, Imran, Nohman and Rizwan Ahmed, has become synonymous with sneaker care and protection, offering innovative solutions that cater to the desires of sneaker enthusiasts worldwide. As the sneaker industry co
try continues to evolve, Crep Protect remains at the forefront, providing a range of products that not only enhance the longevity of sneakers but also pay homage to the artistry and passion embedded within sneaker culture. In this interview, one of the visionaries behind Crep Protect, delves into the brand’s journey, ethos, and the impact it has had on the world of sneakers. How it all started “From a young age, I was always quite entrepreneurial. I grew up in a family with two elder brothers, so I matured quite quickly, and we were always focused on buying and selling. The eBay culture played a big part in how we got started,” Nohman Ahmed told Inside Retail. Always interested in fashion, especially in trainers and sneakers, the brothers would buy the best and most expensive trainers that they could afford. But they were equally passionate about cleaning them at home. “We came across a video on YouTube on waterproof nanotechnology, and it was for building materials in construction, masonry and heavy industries. It looked really impressive, where water was just bouncing off the materials without getting absorbed. This flicked a switch,” Nohman said. The brothers channelled their passion and entrepreneurial spirit, and after making some inquiries, they started working with a lab to formulate a solution that could be used for sneaker care. “It was critical to make sure that this solution did not affect the materials of the shoe. So that’s how the journey started. I was at university at the time, studying and working to be an aircraft engineer, but then I gave it up to take on this business venture full time,” he added. The challenges It was not all plain sailing though. Nohman realised that one of the brand’s biggest challenges was changing the culture and mindset around sneaker care. “Sneaker care has always been an afterthought for most people. It was always something customers were forced to buy, and in most cases, that sneaker cleaner would end up under your bathroom sink, and the customer journey would have ended right there,” he noted. This is why the brothers focused on creating a premium brand with a premium price point that would be widely accepted by sneaker enthusiasts. They focused on the ‘long game’ and started connecting with consumers in a premium and ‘fun’ way. “We engaged with brand influencers and we got in touch with the best sneaker stores in the world. We also needed to change the mindset of clients, and set about educating them about the massive benefits of incorporating our products into their overall business,” he said. Crep Protect has a presence in over 60 countries as of this year, and Nohman believes this is only the beginning. He wants to grow the business into a billion-dollar company, and he believes the brand already has a solid foundation for the journey ahead. Holistic strategies The company uses ingredients like jojoba oil and coconut extracts to make sure every formulation is all-natural. Its cleaning brushes are made from wood that uses FSC-certified lumber sources, and the brand is also looking to phase out its aerosol sprays. “I think what is important when we talk about sustainability, is that it needs to be sustainable for consumers, businesses and of course, being good for the environment. It’s important that we balance the convenience factor and the performance aspect of the product too,” he noted. As Crep Protect grows its international footprint, Nohman pointed out that a key aspect of its global operations lie in its strategy of logistics facilities. The company has multiple warehousing hubs all over the world. “We have one in Europe, one in the UK, one in the US and one in the Middle East. This allows us to have short lead times and ensure that we can market our products quickly and penetrate the market at speed,” he stated. Major markets like the UK, Europe and the US are handled directly by the Crep Protect team, but for other markets like the Middle East, local distributors are key to the success of the brand. The brand’s latest store at Adidas DXB in the Dubai Mall has a range of services for ‘sneakerheads’, including technicians that offer shoe care expertise and express cleaning services in barber-shop style chairs. “Regions like South America and China are unique, and we have local expertise to handle all aspects of the business, including social media and marketing activities as well,” he concluded.