I don’t go to rock concerts, don’t listen to heavy metal and don’t drop the tears from my oblique black bangs on my pink trousers, but when I went to the website of the TUK shoe company, I instantly chose two pairs of shoes for myself next summer. Naturally, I wanted to know the history of creating a business focused on informal and non-standard youth. The official representative of the TUK brand in Russia, Dmitry Pugachev, helped me.
Text: Evgenia Bubnova
- Dmitry, where do TUK shoes grow from?
- TUK shoes, according to the official slogan. "Born in England, raised in California" was born in England and raised in California. And it happened about 20 years ago. Initially, the designers working with the brand were inspired by rock and roll, and now they create for those who cannot exist outside of music, art and fashion.
- How did TUK come to Russia, or rather, where did you find it?
- For more than 10 years I was engaged in the wholesale of goods for snowboarders and skaters, but at some point I was tired. Our athletes are certainly brave people, but sometimes their courage comes from a lack of reason. In addition, I had two daughters, and maybe that's why I was drawn to women's fashion. At the exhibition in Barcelona in 2006, my eyes fell on the TUK brand, and I immediately realized that it was possible and necessary to work with it. It took about a year to negotiate with Western colleagues: they were not sure about the readiness of the Russian market and the consumer to accept their product. In 2007, we received distribution rights and engaged in wholesale.
- And when and how did your first retail store open?
- We sold shoes in bulk for about a year, delivered it to fifty stores throughout Russia. Admittedly, the brand was not easy. Not so much because of the product, but because retailers simply plugged holes in their main assortment, and TUK could not come to the fore. Stores with rock attributes in which TUK was sold were selected from the line (???) in 300 – 400 of the articles of 15 models. Shops selling ready-made shoes - 10. The brand was simply lost and killed itself. Then we decided to try our hand at retail and in 2008 opened the first store in St. Petersburg. Now we have one more store in Volgograd, and in Moscow we are represented on the basis of the rock and roll store Bop Street.
- What other brands are represented in TUK stores?
- Inamagura, Iron Fist, Converse, Keds, Prokeds, Mackbeth and others. TUK occupies no more than half of the assortment. Large retail stores often ignore the interests of informal youth, and even if they order informal shoes, then only the most restrained models. We turned out to be the most interesting and experimental models that ordinary shops are afraid to contact. And at some point, it so happened that brands began to literally break into us, because they saw a marketing platform in us. We give new and little-known brands the opportunity to try their hand and exhibit 15 – 20 models.
- And how do you yourself describe the interests of informal youth? Is there a fashion concept for them? Are clothes and shoes for them a sign of “their own”, a means of attracting attention, self-expression?
- Informal youth is generally a strange concept ... Informal people are those who are at the forefront of the perception of the world, who go through life with their eyes wide and “bite” everything new. Therefore, the concept of fashion for them, of course, exists. But this is not a means to attract attention. To some extent, this is self-expression. But mainly - a sign for "their". For such youth, an idol is very important, which creates this fashion.
- How important is the brand for informal youth?
- The brand is important for them, of course. But with the condition that this brand can offer the image that they are focused on.
- When brands began to break into you, how did you determine for yourself: with whom do you want to work, and with whom - not? Did brand branding matter?
- The main criterion for choosing partners is the adequacy of people from that side. For example, with one very respected company, whose sneakers were presented in our stores, we still did not find a common language. Therefore, good relationships with suppliers play an extremely important role.
- How can you describe the format of your store?
- We analyzed the situation with the brand for a long time and realized that the store should be in the center, but outside of large human flows, since its area is relatively small - only 80 sq. m. We decided to become as open as possible for each buyer. And today, from 100 – 150 visitors who come to us every day, 70 leave with purchases. This is a very high conversion rate.
The backbone of our company was formed during our time in the wholesale business. Now in our St. Petersburg team 10 people.
- What is a team for you?
- This is a meeting of like-minded people. Our vectors of business vision and internal development should be aligned. Relations within our team are more than friendly. We are a little epicureans at heart. Choosing co-workers is almost the same as choosing a mattress, we spend a third of our lives on the mattress while we sleep, and a third at work. Accordingly, you should feel comfortable and at work.
- Do you require sellers to look like representatives of subcultures?
- On the contrary. Our sellers look neutral: outwardly, they cannot be attributed to any of the youth subcultures. The dreadful, tattooed and pierced seller of a boardshop or shoe store does not at all guarantee customer loyalty. Therefore, when hiring us, we have one criterion: it is necessary that the person is just a good seller, who sees who the client is in front of him and knows how to communicate with him in his language.
- A good seller - is it innate or is achieved by education?
- I have my own point of view on this: even when I was working with sports equipment, we tried to determine which is better: hire an athlete and make a seller out of him or hire a seller and make him a person close to sports. Practice has shown that only the second option is possible. Talent to sell is inherent quality. The seller is a little vampire, for whom the main "dish" is the positive emotions of the client. He should enjoy the sale process itself.
- Who is your customer and how did he first come to you?
- The first experimenters laid a path to us before we even managed to open the first store, they came immediately to the office. Naturally, the first of these clients came about through personal connections. Even while working with boarders, I overgrown acquaintances from this party. And, of course, we relied on word of mouth. Now our client has neither sex nor age. The peak of activity falls on 16 – 20 years, but some grandmothers also put on our shoes.
- Judging by the description, representatives of the stronger sex should come to you more often. Judging by the catalog on the site - you have a lot of women's shoes. Who nevertheless buys more: boys or girls?
- We specifically made a roll for women's shoes in the assortment; 70% of our customers are girls. We work with people who themselves create an image that is then replicated. And the boys are initially a little more constrained. The youth that we managed to hook on are the central figures of these parties, they are quite photogenic and glow a lot.
- Does your segment have such a thing as seasonality? Say, in a regular shoe store, July is calm, December is a hurricane. Do you have high or low months?
- Seasonality is rather strange here. If we talk about the week, then Saturday - Sunday are not very good days, because our clientele falls asleep after Friday. The summer months do not subside. Summer is usually a bunch of travelers. And January is the “deadest” month. Perhaps this is due to the consequences of the New Year's fun.
- And besides the "word of mouth" you somehow declare yourself?
- When we were only wholesalers (now we continue to do wholesale), our promotion was closely connected with musical groups. This implied a large number of sleepless evenings and nights - clubs, bars, concerts. And now, the frontmen of every third rock and punk music band are putting on our shoes. And this cannot but advertise us among their fans.
- What is your icon system in the store? How it works?
- Few people come to us in a good sense of the word. We cannot afford to “spud” many customers. Therefore, we pay a lot of attention to each visitor. From time to time we give out badges with different designs. Then they go with them all over the country. J At some point, we announce that from such-and-such to such-and-such a number, by presenting the badge at the checkout, you can get a discount of 30%. This replaces sales, because we do not have sales as such.
- On May 1 in St. Petersburg there will be a grand TUK fest. Does it take place with your support or did you become its organizer? How did the idea come about?
- It was invented spontaneously, one evening we just thought, and not whether to try to make us our own festival. If you manage to not lose too much on this matter, then we will hold this festival annually. For our part, we communicate with many musicians, tickets for the festival can also be bought in the store.
- What was the biggest discovery for you in this business?
- Before shoes, I was engaged in another kind of trade. When we started selling shoes in a wholesale format, we did not feel much of a difference. And when they came to retail, they realized that they knew nothing about the retail business. We delayed the renovation as best we could, because we were just afraid to open up. Wholesale trade is three to four clients a day. And then some strangers come in, and they need something from you ...
- They say that every entrepreneur goes through a loss of money - they invested in the wrong way, invested in the wrong ones, and entered the business at the wrong time. That without loss there is no development. Can you agree with that?
- Yes, who does not risk, he does not drink champagne, and we love champagne. Therefore, there is a lot of risk involved. J
- Returning to TUK. I quote you: “We do not do discounts. We make gifts. " Gift schedule for April: as always - compensation for the cost of a ticket to St. Petersburg (up to 600 rubles per couple); as always - when sending by mail the cost of sending is at our expense; colored hair - compensation for the cost of paint (up to 300 rubles); buying ugg boots IRON FIST - half the price of any shoes - as a gift. "
That is, at any time, you can come to you, show a ticket (train, bus, air) and get a discount? How many tickets did you bring, for example, in March?
- At one time, we even tried to mark on the map where they came from. Then the card had to be thrown out - it was worn out. Tickets is a game for shoppers, as are badges. They provide a discount of up to 10% of the pair. In March we received 70 tickets, for 3 – 4 per day. Moreover, for us March is not the most active month.
- Compensation for tickets is understandable - it provides traffic. And why do you need colored hair? Want to make life colorful?
- For the first time we started this action in September 2009 of the year: "Make yourself up and come to us with colored hair." So we painted the gray autumn Peter.
For your information:
TUK shoes are a relief of the sole in the form of human bones and skulls (by the way, the sole is patented). In the female version, heel models are decorated with prints with skulls and bows - a combination that explodes the brains of the layman for one or two. For those who hesitate between hard rock and glamor - eleven centimeter stilettos with pink chains.
These are shoes mimicking a purple leopard and a pink tiger. These are mustachioed cats with a surprised expression on their toes. These are newspaper prints reporting on the death of the president. This is graffiti on classic boats (Ed Hardy is resting). Many models are suitable for vegans - made of breathable artificial leather, animal fats are not used in the glue
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