As of October 2018, Kicking It, is not only the first retail shoe and apparel store with a full-service bar in America, but it also serves as the first and only black-owned space in Austin’s exclusively occupied, Domain.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” was the African Proverb recited by Greg, one of the founders of Kicking It, when describing their management style and vision.
An HBCU Professor, an entrepreneur, a realtor, a pro-football player, a rebel with a cause, and some certified sneakerheads make up this interesting tandem. Owners Greg, Levi, Keenan, Howard, Earl, and David, and last but certainly not least, the only woman on in the crew, Logan (who keeps the guys on their toes and has a knack for the details and operations) officially formed the Kicking It Crew in October of 2017. While their sole goal is to promote space for shoeheads and barbershop talk culture, the team definitely comes from varied interests and backgrounds.
The team collectively agrees the Kicking It concept all began as a dream of Greg’s. Greg and Levi had been friends since teenage years and were owners of Boojee hair here in Austin near their Alma Mater, Huston-Tillotson University.
In Mid-2017, Boojee hair’s lease was up for renewal right as gentrification in East Austin had become the hot topic around tables, at board meetings, and in the neighborhood parks. Renewing the lease at Boojee Hair’s at the new market rate would have meant no more affordable prices for Huston-Tillotson students and the surrounding community.
It wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t have the people on our team
It was at this point that Greg began to form the rest of the team. He recruited Howard, a young marketing intern, and foresaw them collaborating for future ventures. Greg soon met Keenan and worked as his manager at a shoe store and there, the wheels really began to turn. After getting wind of a Trade Show in Long Beach, California, Greg, Levi, and Keenan made a risky move and closed Boojee Hair for a week to road trip and pose as buyers and store owners to learn as much as they could about their next venture: shoes.
Photos by Eli Wells Photography
“It wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t have the people on our team. We all bring something different to the table,” Keenan says while Greg and Levi simultaneously nod their heads in agreement. Greg recalls, “My dad owned his own business and I always wanted to own a shoe store growing up.
I worked at Nice Kicks for over 6 years and had my own business plan for years. After reaching out to the Domain to no success, I called Levi. Levi’s a realtor and knew the lingo, and within hours, we had space in the Domain.”
Levi, the quiet one of the bunch, smiled humbly as they continued to tell their story. After choosing several possible locations and reaching out to their vendors for feedback, Nike & Jordan rated the Domain’s location “A+“. The rest was history.
With only one year until opening, the market researcher in me had to know how they got the word out. “Word of mouth,” Keenan smiled. The Huston Tillotson community assisted them as former students and with a professor as part owner, the school really supported the project from inception.
Earl Thomas, University of Texas Grad and current Seatle Seakhawks Free Safety received a lot of support from UT, and the Black Community was especially elated to see such a creative space that welcomed them in such a space prided on exclusivity.
Kicking It opened the doors on October 20th, 2018 and launched with lines wrapped around the store. Carrying the must-haves, family sizes, and some of the most exclusive releases, it’s a place for everyone. Come purchase some shoes, grab a drink, or talk shop and kick it; this store is an Eastbay fan’s dream.
In an era where many small businesses are suffering, the cost of living rising, and the availability of space is sparse, it’s a moment for everyone to relish in and appreciate the creativity, entrepreneurship, & business savvy of these young black friends turned business owners.
Kicking It is located in Domain Northside at 3200 Palm Way (near The Park and Lush) and is open Mon – Sat from 10a – 9p and on Sun from 12p – 6p.