Joe Franklin was just 12 years old when he got his start in the sneaker dealing business, using the £300 (USD$395) of birthday money he’d saved to buy a pair of rare trainers, which he sold for double the price.
Now 17, the London-based business owner has moved on to bigger things — sourcing sneakers for U.K. rap stars such as Dizzee Rascal and AJ Tracey.
The most expensive pair of sneakers Franklin has ever bought were “Nike Air Mags”, better known as the “Back to the Future” trainers, that cost him £45,000. He then sold these on for £57,000.
Franklin launched his business, 5upplied, in 2018. He then dropped out of what would be referred to as sixth-form college in the U.K., a year later, as business quickly flourished. He suffers from dyslexia and said academia wasn’t his strong suit.
But his business skills have enabled the teenager to build a network of global contacts as well as a list of top clientele, reinvesting all the funds he earned back into 5upplied – “using money to make more money.”
Franklin initially used Facebook to sell sneakers but now works out of the headquarters of underground music streaming service Keakie in London’s hipster district Shoreditch.
The store is not open to the public and offers appointment-only fitting sessions for his big spending clients.
This, he says, is part of the attraction for music artists who come also to use the recording studio onsite.
‘Source the unsourceable’
The 17-year-old says his reputation is built on an ability to “source the unsourceable,” recalling how a client asked him to find 10-15 pairs of rare sneakers in just three hours. Franklin managed to get 12 of the requested pairs.
Another time, a client gave Franklin a 10-hour window to find a pair of Nike SB Dunk Paris sneakers – selling for up to £35,000 – before he headed back to Dubai.
The sneaker dealer had just two hours, once he got the trainers, to get to the London’s Luton private jet airport terminal.
It’s very much a business built on “word of mouth,” he tells CNBC, with the sourcing of sneakers helped by contacts in places like New York, Dubai and Sydney, as well as getting mockups of trainers that might come out in the future. He also keeps a keen eye on social media to stay in the loop with latest trends.
Franklin says learning from his mistakes has been one of his biggest lessons as a young business owner.
“I’m not scared to make mistakes, as long as I learn from them,” he says.
He has also learned the importance of patience as well as being organized and encourages other young people to do something “revolved around your passion.”
“Never give up, keep going and push yourself,” he adds.
The demand for a business like Franklin’s reflects how lucrative athleisure has become as a fashion trend in recent years. For instance, U.K. retailer JD Sports Fashion had the best total returns of any FTSE 100 stock in the past decade, returning 3,200% between January 2010 and December 2019, according to data from U.K. investment platform AJ Bell.
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