Today we’d like to introduce you to Julien Bouil.
Julien, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was a college athlete at Bowie State University (Basketball) but was sidelined because of school transfer rules and injuries. During this time, I had more time on my hands than usual and I’ve always had a passion for fashion. I remember one day I walked out of my dorm and I had on purple foamposites, tan khaki pants and a black and purple tee… Within 30 seconds, I saw someone else with literally the exact same fit and I was so embarrassed. I rushed back in and changed my fit.
After that day, I decided to customize my shoes, so at least I knew whatever I had on my feet no one else would have because my individuality is very important to me. Over time people started noticing and asking me “Yo where’d you get those?” and I’d tell them, “I did it”. Little by little people started asking me to customize their shoes and offered to pay me, so I did. I continued customizing shoes while in undergrad and started gaining a following because of my creativity. After undergrad, I decided I wanted to go to Graduate school (SCAD) to learn how to make shoes from scratch, but the school told me I’d have to do undergrad courses for a year because I had no experience with shoes until they saw my Instagram page. My Instagram page showing my passion for fashion, art and my 2000 followers actually got me into graduate school without having to do undergrad courses which saved me a lot of money.
I learned so much in graduate school when it comes to fashion, art, materials selection, trend forecasting, etc. and used it into my business. I started getting more creative and caught the attention of very popular pages like Hypebeast and celebrities that it made my page jump to about 20,000 followers during grad school. I was the top footwear designer student in my department that the teachers asked me to help teach classes and mentor some of my peers. I met my first potential investor during my last year of graduate school. She had a jewelry company in N.Y. and loved my designs but at that point, I had no idea on how to launch a footwear company and nothing came out of it.
My business continued to grow after graduation now that I have more time to invest in it. One year after I graduated from grad school, I was approached by a big-time investor located in California. The investor’s son found me on YouTube and told his dad he’d like to work with me. The investor’s secretary reached out and set up a meeting for us to meet in person at his mansion in Beverly Hills (This was clearly one of the biggest days of my life). The investors and I met and we were on the same page and decided to go into business with each. He would provide the capital and marketing I would need and I would be the CEO and head designer/decision-maker for our footwear brand called Fl’eau Ink LLC. After ten months of preparation, contract construction, equity in the company discussion, getting the design prepared for our first shoe, picking out our target audience, creating timesheets and price sheets the investor decided to pull out because they got too busy with other ventures. This hit me hard.
After a couple of months of picking myself up and working on my next step to success, I refocused and kept pushing. About a year and half later I decided to move to Atlanta to be around more people like me. Since being in Atlanta my old investor and I tried to work together one more time, but it just wasn’t a good fit and I learned to never give someone else that much power over me anymore.
Today I am working on acquiring the capital I need to launch my footwear and apparel brand Fl’eau Ink LLC and in talks with some news promising business partners. I want to create a company that creates a movement. A movement that will help our people grow creatively with classes teaches them how to sew and make products, understanding the power of our culture, teaching them financial literacy, how to start and run a business, self-awareness and more!
Has it been a smooth road?
No, it has not. I’ve had so many failed partnership with possible investors. It is difficult to accept losing millionaires and billionaire investors, especially when every investor I had approached me. With those experiences, I learned to not let anyone affect me that much anymore and understand everything happens at the right time with the right ones.
I’ve also had manufacturers in Asia copy some of my sneaker designs and steal a large portion of my sales, but it cost so much to hire a lawyer to sew companies overseas. I’ve also experienced the typical hate on social media and sometimes the impatient or rude customer, but those are standards in the industry which tells you you are doing something right.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Le Shoechainz Customs – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I paint shoes, jackets, other accessories and canvases. When I paint, I also use glow in the dark, Heat sensitive and sun reactive paints which help me stand out from the rest. I also remold shoes. I make foam molds to add to the shoes to make the shoe look completely different. In these molds I also add L.E.Ds which are wired to a rechargeable battery and an On/Off switch. I specialize in Air MAG customs and Foampositie paint jobs. The Air Mag shoe from Back to the Future really help me stand out from the rest because I found ways to remake the air mags on other shoes. My hand-painted Foamposite customs with anime character and more show my talents when it comes to my art.
I am most proud of the way I’ve been able to impact those that follow me. I have people that contact me saying I’m an inspiration and I would ask them why? They would tell me it’s because of how transparent I am with my highs and lows on my page and how I don’t quit. I am very relentless and I don’t let anyone or anything stop me from accomplishing my goals and people use my fire to feed theirs. What sets me apart from the rest is the fact that I am a one-stop-shop. Some people only paint shoes, others only remake shoes from Nike or Adidas but I do everything. I can paint shoes, mold shoes, remake popular shoes and I make my own original shoes from my designs.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the vibez, hands down, It has so much life. I love the creativity in ATL, people are open to diverse collaborations and always push the envelope. The energy in ATL is different as well because I believe people here are on a higher vibration because they tap into a different frequency and understand we build better with love and collaboration and not with separation.
I dislike that some people need to be “That guy” or “That girl”. Some people will do anything to be looked at as successful and popping instead of being authentic but that happens all around the world.
- Website: www.Leshoechainz.com
- Email: Ceo@leshoechainz.com
- Instagram: @Le_Shoechainz
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeShoechainzCustoms
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/leshoechainz