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Crep Connects with Steph: International Women’s Day

Crep Connects with Steph: International Women’s Day

clock-circular-outline Posted March 08, 2024

Happy International Women’s Day sneakerheads! 

International Women's Day: Steph

To celebrate this very special day and month dedicated to uplifting and championing influential women across the globe, we’ve decided to shine a light on a handful of inspirational women who are making waves in the creative industry. 

From journaling their successes, and challenges to educating the future generation of creatives, this series is all about empowering the women-led initiatives that have continued to make a positive impact on society. No matter how big or small, we’re all ears and we hope you are too!

First in the hot seat is Steph, a self-proclaimed marketing prodigy and a long-time sneakerhead who has had her feet burrowed in many female-led initiatives starting with her Women’s In Sneakers Instagram page, her 8-month creative agency start-up Gang Gang as well as becoming a contributing editor to SheakerMag. Cooking up a storm - not just with her food but within the sneaker world, we caught up with Steph to find out more about her ambitions within the creative industry.

Read the full interview below

C: Hey Steph, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with the Crep Family! First and foremost we would like to ask how are you doing.

S: Yeah, I’m good, I’m super busy. I just started an agency late last year called Gang Gang which is all about community and socials like TikTok and how we can merge those together and work with brands. 
Creating Women in Sneakers was all about community and bringing people together who have a shared sense of passion, particularly for sneakers and streetwear. It had a nice synergy, I started Gang Gang with two of my ex-colleagues from TikTok and that’s what I’ve been up to. Running an agency, freelancing, doing Women in Sneakers and everything in between.
I’m good, I’m busy but also very happy and very content.

International Women's Day Steph

C: It’s great to have to here with us today, we love what you do, but for people who are less familiar with yourself and your work could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

S: I am a bit of what I like to call myself the jill of all trades, I do a little bit of everything! Traditionally my background is in marketing, I did brand partnerships at ASOS, and I did sneaker brand partnerships where I looked after adi, Reebok, Vans, North Face etc.

I also worked with On Running as well, they are a Swiss sneaker brand, I helped them launch their lifestyle product, and I worked on everything from market plans to concepts, and content creation with influencers and how they should do events and how they show up in the sneakerhead landscape.

I also do production, if you don’t know what production is, it is basically like the behind-the-scenes of how a shoot comes together. All the beautiful content you see coming through from brands and creatives, you have like a producer who works behind the scenes to make that all happen.

I work as a producer/ project manager, I also do a lot of relationship building I would say. A lot of my roles are about building relationships, connecting people and making sure that everybody is staying on track with what they need to deliver. 

So I do a bit of everything, relationship building, project management, production, content creation. My friends will always say that I am a connector, if they need something they know that Steph can do it and that is a really nice thing, so that’s what I do!

C: What was the first moment you realised you had a love and passion for sneakers?

S: It was from a super young age, so there’s a two-fold right. There was a store in Oxford, so that’s where I am from. The store was called Ryouki in Oxford and sold streetwear. That was the first of its kind that I ever experienced, I used to go in there all the time with my dad and look at all the shoes, clothes, everything. Every weekend my dad would take me and it was run by Ryan who runs the Drop Date now, it was his store. 

That’s when I was kind of like ‘ok, this is kind of like an obsession’. I loved going in there to look at the different silhouettes and the women’s wear was downstairs and there weren’t even that many shoes for women at the time but I just really loved going into that store and the retail experience.

That’s what really cemented my love for it because I loved clothes and products and so that’s definitely one of them. Also, my family was a massive influence! I have a very big family, I have cousins, aunties etc. At the time I was one of the youngest but they used to have new kicks.

I remember my uncle had a Nike tattoo, one of my aunties used to have the latest kicks, she had Rifts and Shox’s before anybody else and I was the same shoe size as her so she would let me borrow them and stuff and people would be like ‘What where did you get those from?’. I think it’s a combination of my family and retail experience that made me kind of fall in love with streetwear.

International Women's Day

C: Do you think there is a differentiation between Oxford Streetwear compared to London Streetwear?

S: Yeah, 100% and I think that’s a really important point as when I am going to marketing strategies and stuff I am kind of there am I like ‘Ok yes London is a hub, it’s a hub of culture, it’s bubbling and bustling, it’s like a melting point for people. I also went to university in Leeds, the style in Leeds is completely different to London and Manchester.

You know, I always think that you got to cater to Jane in Liverpool and you also got to cater to your hard-core sneaker crew in London as well. I think having that diversification is really important and making sure that people feel included and represented, then it doesn’t feel like it’s alienating people.

I think there is a difference growing up in Oxford, yes there are definitely influences from London. 
There’s a lot of students in London as well, there’s a lot of vintage style, there’s kind of a lot of youth in Oxford. Also, I don’t want to say old, but there is kind of an older demographic in Oxford as well. This combination is really impactful. I would say in terms of fashion culture, I would say there is a subculture of sneakerheads in Oxfordshire.
I think that’s why I think Ryouki was ahead of its time because that’s the kind of store that we need in the city centre, all you have is chains. I have nothing against chains, but having independent stores that have a curative collection is a nice touch when it comes to sneaker culture. That’s what I think is missing now from the sneaker world.
I would say Oxford is in a bit of a bubble, very much trend-led. Do you know what I mean, people are wearing the same sort of thing, I think being able to add your own touch and spin to trends is important.

C: Are you more of an advocate for Independent stores or do you like mainstream fashion, what is your take on that?

S: So, I love independence and I think the challenge that they have is the brands kind of dictate what product that they get and that is really tricky for them to survive. Ultimately if you think of Pam Pam which was a female-only store based in London, they closed down and that’s because certain brands were not giving them the product that they needed to thrive and I think that is something that brands could be better at.

They have an account system; top tier accounts so let's say an END for example would be a top tier account, then you’ll have like a JD or a Size? would be a Tier B account then you’ll have a Tier C that would be JD Sports for example they manage their product that way.

I think for me, independence is really important and crucial to culture, if you don’t have diversity in stores, everyone will look the same and everything will be cloned and I think having that curated approach to products that you can get from an independent store and having that hyper localised perspective is really important and interesting.

C: You are the founder of the Instagram page Women in Sneakers, a contributing editor of Sheakermag and a director of Gang Gang UK, we would love to know how all these opportunities came about. 

S: Yeah so Women in Sneakers, that stemmed from me working with amazing, talented women and not seeing them championed in the way that I want them to be seen and I think that putting them at the forefront or spotlight was really important to me. I would say now since I started it 3 years ago, it has definitely pivoted into it being really community-focused and people-led.

I’ve tried to remove myself from the platform and differentiate myself and women in sneakers, even though it’s my baby, it’s really important that other people are at the forefront. I don’t want it to be about me and what I am doing for it, it’s more like ‘ok, who are the people in the community that support me by simply just following and liking the post?’ How can I champion them and support them and that’s how Women in Sneakers came about and that's where I see it moving forward.

In terms of Sheakermag, working with Angelee from Sheakermag is great! The reason that came about was we were on a Zoom call and we were like we should work together, this is a vibe. That’s kind of how that came about and we all kind of have our elements and areas to focus on and think about and as I said, people are my passion, so I say how can we write about this or this person? What is something that hasn’t been done before and how can we put a unique spin on it?  Working with Angelee from Sheakermag was a wonderful byproduct of creating a platform like Women in Sneakers.

Then Gang Gang came about because we were all working on TikTok and we were like let’s start our own thing. I worked with my two business partners, Chris is one of my business partners. I worked with him at ASOS, I worked with him at TikTok, and I trust him. He does a lot of amazing stuff, very talented and Hannah I met at TikTok as well and she is equally as talented. She is amazing at branding and amazing and honing in on people and how people can come through in their brand and personality which is beautiful. 

Being able to work with two talented people and just being like, we should do this. That’s how it came about my business partners Chris was like do you want to start something? I was like yeah let’s do it, let’s go!

We kind of started it and yeah we’re basically winging it. We’re taking each day as it comes, we’ve worked on some really cool briefs, and we’ve worked with StockX for the last International Women’s Day. Gang Gang did all the branding and stuff for that. We also worked with Vans recently, they did a skating competition and we got to go down and cover it and create content for it which is amazing.

The guys did all the editing and design, branding and stuff. We also worked with brands like Netflix and lots of big brands and we’re only like 8 months old, so we’re still in our infancy and we’re still kind of like babies so yeah, we’re taking each day as it comes and going with it. It’s really fun and I get to work with my friends.

C: What are your top three sneakers in your collection and why?

S: This is really difficult! I have a love of sneakers for marketing purposes, nostalgia and simply because I like the silhouette. I also have a love for pairs because they are memories for me so a very specific pair for me is the adidas NMDs. That was the first big campaign shoot that I did for ASOS. So I had a crew of 40 people that included 25 dancers, one of whom threw up because they were so nervous about the shoot.

Steph : IWD
Also when the adidas NMD first launched it was huge, it was crazy! It sold out in less than 5 minutes and at the time it was one of our best-performing pieces of content that we put out for ASOS and it was a social buzzfeed. I am going to give you more than 3 by the way.

I would also say, again for the same reason for marketing purposes, the Reebok Instapump was one of my favourite silhouettes, again down to the marketing and storytelling they use behind it. Long story short, they had a guy that is about to do a bungee jump and they had someone wearing a pair of Nike and they did the bungee jump and the shoe came off. 
They then had someone wearing the Instapumps and he pumped up the shoe and did the bungee jump and the shoe stayed on. Now you can’t do provocative marketing campaigns like that anymore where you would feature another brand in your campaign, so for me that was very tongue ‘n’ cheek, daring and a very interesting approach to launching a sneaker and promoting a shoe.

Then I also really love Air Max 95s and 97s, they’re probably some of my favourite silhouettes and I have a lot of ‘90s anyway. I’ve got quite a lot of pairs of them but I think it's more because of the colourways and being able to wear them as beaters but again the ‘Silver Bullets’ and Shox’s. I mentioned earlier that my aunty used to have a pair of silver and pink Shoxs and she gave them to me, I absolutely love them. 

The releases of Shoxs were hard to get your hands on and I just wanted a new silhouette and wanted to get my hands on, so I am really glad Shox’s are making a comeback mixed with the Martine Rose. Yeah, so Shox’s is one of my favourite silhouettes and sneakers.

I love the Air Jordan 1 ‘Lucky Greens’ and the Sacai’s as well, I really love the Sacai’s, I think they are an interesting take on a chunky sneaker and how a brand can jump on a trend. It was one of my favourites of how a luxury fashion house has taken a silhouette, chopped it, re-used the proportions of it and made it into something wearable. 

Steph: IWD

C: As an influential woman in the world of sneakers, what does International Women’s Month mean to you?

S: You know what, I am not going to lie, I find it really stressful. I feel like because I run a female-focused platform, I feel like there’s so much pressure to create and have an output and I can’t actually enjoy the camaraderie of International Women’s Day as much as I would like to. I am always feeling like I have to do something or being under pressure to act on something or put a campaign out there or collaborate. 

I just want to enjoy being a woman and I would like to have it as a day where I do nothing. I am always doing something, constantly moving, constantly doing something, so for me International Women’s Day, well the positive side of it is if I didn’t get in my head about it is that it is camaraderie. All women coming together, championing each other and supporting each other and I think that’s a beautiful thing.

I think International Women’s Day is an opportunity for people to reflect on who they are and what they are doing, how they approach things and how they take an outward look at kind of people's experiences because the event I am doing on the 8th, guys were like ‘can we come to this?’ and I was like, of course, you can come to this. Someone said to me it focuses on the importance of female-only spaces and thought it was an opportunity for it to be a female-only event. 

Men need to understand why having a female-only space is important and actually champion women and everything they contribute to society and everything they contribute to the functioning of the world. I think there are so many unsung heroes when it comes to women. 

C: What do you think the sneaker industry will be like in the next 5 years?

 You know what it is a bit of a mad one right, I really like tech and stuff as well. I am not super nerdy but I am like interested in tech, and NFTs and to see how that influences culture, so I think that there’s going to be more digitisation of sneaker culture for sure. I think we’ve seen that it’s gone more and more online.
I think now people are being like that’s why there’s a craving for events and things because people want that tangible, in real life experience so I think there’s going to be more experiential stuff and I think we’re going to see some interesting collaborations.

I think athletes are going to influence the sneaker industry more than before and what I mean by that is more from a style and fashion sense. If you think about Jacquemus and Sha’Carri Richardson they’ve used her as their muse let’s say as the main person and because they’re launching that product for the Olympics. I think the way that athletes are going to influence kind of sneaker culture, style and fashion is going to be very different now high-end fashion is influencing it more. 

If you think about the NBA tunnel walk has become like a fashion opportunity, it has become like a mini catwalk, so I think sports and athletes are going to influence it for a more fashion perspective lens as opposed to a more performance lens. I think the future of sneaker culture is going to see more fashion led by athletes as opposed to be more performance products.

Steph: IWD
C: Yeah, I feel like brands are now tapping into the unrealised potential of these athletes because again as you said most trainers are made for performance to promote performance but again as the fashion world intertwines more with performance, you kind of have this fashionable but functional shoe. I feel like they have seen a new market point to not just put singers and artists in the mix but actual people that are wearing the shoes into the spotlight, I think that’s a really interesting point, and this will elevate in the next few years!

For sure and on the point of performance shoes and footwear I feel like that’s only going to grow if you think of Salomon and Hoka, On Running, GORETEX all those practical utility products are going to say present because people want function as well comfort. They want it to look good that is only going to continue and grow more because people want stuff that’s going to last and to be all conditions.

C: Are there any exciting projects that you are working on this year that you can share with the Crep Family?

S: I have like a concept in my head, I want to like cooking and creps. I love cooking and I love food so I wanted to do a little TV show like imagine Saturday Kitchen but mixed with creps, I want to shoot people in their kicks but also cook their favourite dish and interview them. I am in the process of fleshing that out and putting a concept together for that and I am going to pitch it to a couple of brands, I think if that is something of interest. So yeah that’s where my heads at haha!

C: Steph, it’s been a pleasure! To sign off the interview, are there any final words that you would like to share with our sneaker community? 

S: More women in the boardroom. More women in decision-making. Be nice to each other, be kind and support each other! 

Check out our interview with Big Manny here

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