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How I Got Here: George Sullivan CEO Sole Supplier

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We caught up with George Sullivan, the founder & CEO of the UK’s leading sneaker platform, The Sole Supplier.

Set up in 2013 by George Sullivan, The Sole Supplier has become one of the leading platforms for sneaker news and drops in the UK & Europe. Featuring a variety of exclusive sneaker & streetwear releases, video content & daily sneaker news, it’s fair to say The Sole Supplier has become a highly respected source for the latest sneaker drops over the last 7 years.

How did the Sole Supplier originally come about and what were you doing before?

My love for trainers started around 10 years ago just after I left school at 17 but the problem was that I didn’t have a enough money to be able to afford them. It wasn’t until I landed a job in recruitment at 21 that I was able to afford to buy my favourite pairs. Whilst working hard I was also an avid reader of business/self development books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Four Hour Work Week and Get Out Now. These books gave me a lot of inspiration as well as my mum and dad who always told me to think about the internet and what you could do with it.

I started being more careful with my money, saving more but most importantly, stopped drinking and going out with friends as much. I chose to make this sacrifice for my future and my priority became my finances with the ultimate goal of saving to start a business once I had an idea. People say “don’t miss going out when you are young” and “this is extreme” but it will definitely pay off long term.

At the time I was also reselling certain pairs of trainers if I could get two or three extra (it was easier to do this 6 years ago). I was on my hustle of making extra cash and working ridiculously hard in recruitment.

To resell effectively I was searching online for the information I needed using US websites and also making a lot of phone calls. This took a lot of time and it eventually dawned on me – I need to create my own website, using the knowledge I have gained, to help people find trainers.

I started creating The Sole Supplier in my evenings and sometimes during lunch. I was working double shifts to get this done. After 6 months it eventually started making some money and I was so happy after all the late nights, whilst working in recruitment. In just over 9 months I left my full time job and went full steam ahead.

Talk us through your daily routine with The Sole Supplier and which bits do you enjoy the most?

We employ just over 20 people right now from content creators to iOS developers so my day is hugely dynamic ensuring I manage the team effectively. My goal is to 1. Make them happy & 2. Get the best out of them. With any job, it’s important for you to love what you do and I honestly enjoy waking up every day and dealing with new problems to solve. There is something hugely satisfying about getting out of a sticky situation or fixing something tough.

What else can we expect from the platform for 2020?

A big step forward in terms of product offering and tech – you will find a lot more trainers on the website from a lot more retailers but it will be personalised to you.

What’s your take on the sneaker world at the moment compared to say 5 years ago when collaborations/hype drops etc weren’t as common?

I still love the industry but am not a huge follower of “hype culture” as I buy what I think looks great. 80% of my purchases are general releases that are available for weeks before they sell out. I think people need to find their own style and not necessarily follow the hype trends too much. It’s about being unique right?

“I am very open minded in business but also in my personal life which leads to loads of great experiences!”

George Sullivan Sole Supplier

Above: George Sullivan CEO & founder of The Sole Supplier.

What’s your favourite sneaker style that has dropped so far for 2020?

It has to be the Air Force 1 Pistachio (Mint) – awesome pair.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into the sneaker world?

This is one of the fastest moving and exciting industries going – the creativity, marketing and culture is unrivalled. If you are looking to get your foot in the door then I would highly recommend jumping in at the retail level if you can, even if for a few months. This will help you build product knowledge and is a great step into the offices of the big brands. For instance, I know many people who have worked in Size?, Nike, JD Sports etc who have then transitioned from shop floor to head office. One particular success story is a guy I know that worked at Nike slowly transitioning from retail in London to eventually working on a huge project in their US HQ.

Like anything, honesty, hard work and ambition are the traits that companies want to see. If you express you ambition whilst working hard and being a joy to work with, you are gonna go far.

What would your dream shoe be to do a Sole Supplier sneaker collab with?

The Air Force 1 – hands down! Haha

Finally what do you do when you are not running one of the UK’s leading sneaker blogs?

I love to do various things including running (I did the Marathon last year), climbing (I went to Scotland to do this), DJing, reading (there are so many great books to consume) and travelling (this opens your mind and for me, grows my ambition) – I am very open minded in business but also in my personal life which leads to loads of great experiences!

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