Since 2014, SIAK founder Vantrell Erving has been daring his customers to say “It ain’t krispy.”
“The term “krispy” means very clean, fresh, stylish and just being on point from head to toe,” Erving explains. “Our name really sets the tone for our service and reputation. Because we never want clients to be able to say “‘it’s not krispy,'” we always do our best.”
His plan for notoriety has worked. Hundreds of beleaguered shoes have passed through his workshop. He refers to the space as his “lab” and it’s there that he diligently cleans, repairs and customizes the footwear that clients often can’t bear to part with.
Erving shares that building trust, one pair of shoes at a time, has been a key factor to his success. “When people give me their shoes, I become a caretaker and I look after their shoes just as I would if they were trusting me with their child,” he says.
Customer appreciation has plentiful over the last few years. Word-of-mouth of Erving’s ability to breathe new life into footwear that are on their last legs continues to propel SIAK’s growth. It wasn’t always so, however, and in the beginning many people scoffed at Erving’s dream. Today, genius, guru, king and legend are some of the ways Erving has heard himself described. That respect has been earned over time with hard work around the clock to prove naysayers wrong.
It’s been a journey for Erving. When SIAK first launched the only services offered were cleaning and sneaker restoration. Eventually, more services such as sole swaps, glues and wrinkle removal were added. “Then we started offering custom sneakers that can give a unique look to an old pair of shoes. At the end of 2017, we started designing and releasing merchandise for our supporters and it quickly evolved into what is now SIAK, the brand,” Erving says.
But, despite the sweetness of success, Erving is refusing to rest on his laurels. One thing Flint will most likely see from SIAK is more collaborations with other area entrepreneurs. (SIAK’s biggest partnership to date has been with KALM clothing.)
Erving doesn’t want to spill the details yet on who he’ll be teaming up with. But, he feels there is no way he could go wrong.
“There is so much hidden talent in Flint. There are so many people willing to share visions and who are willing to break down the doors for other businesses and brands,” he says. “It’s one of the key things that we need to revamp the city. Fighting the fight together as a team is the only way we can reclaim our city.”
He adds that collaborating with other Flint entrepreneurs is key to his brand’s growth, because it’s easier to spread his message through collective efforts and cross promotion. Plus, when local businesses band together to support and celebrate each other it sends a positive message to the outside world.
In the meantime, as he works out the details of who he’ll be conspiring with, Erving wants his supporters to know that SIAK is in the process of rebranding and expanding. “We are not just shoes anymore. We are shoes, fashion, photography, videography and a movement for our people and so much more. You’ll see in 2020,” he teases.
Editor’s Note: This feature is a part of a three-part series on footwear businesses in Flint.
The SIAK (Say It Ain’t Klothing) brand will includes t-shirts, jackets and different types of headwear.
This series on Flint and Genesee County entrepreneurs is sponsored by Metro Community Development, a community development financial institution and originator of BizBox, a 360 degree business program that includes training, development and financial support.
To learn more call 810-206-6303 or visit metrocommunitydevelopment.com
Lead photo by Laron Chavez