RapidChat: Alec Arambula encourages you to 'lace up and smell the coffee'

Out of his own personal desire to connect with fellow sneakerheads around town, Alec Arambula organized Kicks & Koffee — which operates as a platform for like-minded individuals to connect over an un-intimidating cup of joe. So whether you drink coffee or not, this young entrepreneur and coffee aficionado is encouraging people of all walks of life to come together, share their stories, and most importantly, 'lace up and smell the coffee.'
Rapid Growth: What is the mission behind Kicks & Koffee?

Alec Arambula: Our Mission is people. Being able to reach people from different walks of life — cultures, backgrounds, and community — to share their stories over a cup of coffee.

RG: How do you reach out and interact with these individuals?

AA: A big part of the brand is about being out in the community — not just behind a screen. We are always out in coffee shops meeting new people and then following up. We try curate community anyway we can. Throwing a three vs. three basketball tournament with Carbon Stories has been another way of reaching and meeting people, for example. 

RG: Where does coffee fit into things?

AA: Coffee is a conversation piece. It allows people to build dialogue and relationships with one another. I have been able to build long lasting relationship one coffee at a time! 

RG: Within the context of Kicks & Koffee, is conversation limited to sneakers only?

AA: No not at all! I have always said sneakers are the ice breaker to genuine conversations with people.

RG: How would someone get involved if they wanted to?

AA: As cliché as it sounds, it’s a lifestyle of 'lace up and smell the coffee.' Whether if you drink coffee or not, you can follow us on social (Kicks_Koffee). We would love to link up! Also, you can watch out for the latest pop-ups — all that information is on social or our website. Come be apart of a community!  

RG: What does a pop-up event look like?

AA: Think about it as a shoe museum. We try and tell a story of sneakers through sports and music from the old Chuck Taylors to the new Yeezys. With coffee being the centerpiece of conversation, of course.

RG: How do you define ‘collabing’ within the context of the brand?

AA: Working together to create unity. Understanding that difference enriches human interactions.

RG: Who are some collaborators you’ve worked with around town?

AA: We worked with Madcap Coffee. Not only are [we] big fans of the environment and relationships that they create, we believe in their coffee. Their consistency and hospitality is what keeps us coming back. We have done pop-up shops at their Fulton location a few times, as well as their Detroit location. Also, we've worked with Carbon Stories. They are great at capturing stories in the moment. Carbon has shot our events and allowed us to use their resources for content.

RG: What first sparked your interest in sneakers?

AA: Sneakers are something I was born into. My Dad, uncles, and big brother were always into it! I always saw them wear the hottest Nike Air Max’s and retro Jordans. Though my interest was really sparked when I first started to walk. I was born with cerebral palsy and was told I was never be able to walk again; it wasn’t until I was four when I took my first steps. Growing up I had to wear a big chunky brace … which meant I had to wear chunky shoes. Shoes that I hated! It wasn’t until the first grade I was able to wear a pair of shoes that I liked, thanks to my brace becoming slimmer.

RG: Do you host events for fellow sneakerheads around town?

AA: Yes, We have done four pops-up in the Grand Rapids, one in Detroit, and two in Chicago! We try and create an atmosphere that welcomes each sneakerhead and coffee lover to share their stories and hang around other like minded people that may have not known before. Just speaking for Grand Rapids, each pop-up we throw I realize there’s a lot more sneakerheads in the city than I thought and it continues to grow. 

RG What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve done for a pair of shoes?

AA: I haven’t done anything too bizarre. If I had to choose something . .. it would be waiting in line for a few hours. I waited to get a pair of Jordan 1's that released. Though waiting in lines has almost become obsolete; everything is online or raffled off.

RG: What plays into they hype surrounding a shoe?

AA: Shoes have become one of the most powerful style movements over the last three decades. They are one of the only fashion statements that defies size, age, gender, and race. As I hear some people say, “I start from my sneakers and work my way up on an outfit."

RG: If you had to choose between sneakers or coffee for the rest of your life, which would you be more willing to give up?

AA: It would be coffee. The reason being is because sneakers mean more to me than just shoes. Also, it is one of the things my family and friends can always relate to. It is great!

Jenna K. Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.
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