There is no better feeling than when you meet an entrepreneur who absolutely loves what they do. You instantly sense the commitment and passion they have for their business through their words, expressions, and even in the way they walk! Shane Breau is no exception.
Shane is the founder and owner of The Shoe Shine Shack located in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. The Shoe Shine Shack takes a modern twist on the traditional shoe cleaning concept. The business offers a premium quick shoe shine and shoe cleaning service, a convenient and local drop-off point, and additional shoe-care themed products in the shop. The business concept grew from a much-needed change in direction from Shane’s previous work experience, along with a deep desire to do what he loved.
Stroke of Genius
The idea for the business came to Shane one night at 2 a.m. while lying in bed. Shane was mentally going through his to-do list for the next day. One of the items on the list was to clean all of his shoes and bring them back to new. It was in that moment when a light switch went off, and Shane said to himself: “I’m going to do this!”.
He immediately grabbed his notebook—which every entrepreneur should have readily available on their nightstand—and started brainstorming more about the idea. In addition to writing out the words “The Shoe Shine Shack,” he also started adding additional tasks to consider before launching the business. All Shane knew was that he couldn’t sleep and the concept gripped his imagination.
“Since I came up with the idea, there hasn’t been a single moment that I haven’t thought about the business.”
Finding the Right Fit
One of the coolest things about the business is that you can see before & after photos of shoes shared on Instagram. Sometimes you just can’t believe how The Shoe Shine Shack gets the dirtiest pair of sneakers clean and restores them to their former glory! Shane completely understands the importance of good quality footwear and the impression that your shoes make. But no sweat, he is here to help you get as many years out of your shoes as you can.
“You have to believe in yourself.”
What Shane is most proud of is the fact that he dared to believe in himself, especially when other people couldn’t see it. He knew both how passionate he was about the business concept and how much energy would be needed to make it work. By far his biggest success has been opening up his retail shop on May 1, 2018, at Mercer Warehouse. Now he is on track for even greater success as he is currently doubling the size of the shop with expansion plans set to be completed May 2019! His biggest challenges now are dealing with growing pains and making sure nothing slips through the gaps—including customer service, turn around time, payments, and renovations.
“Customer service is key, and we take a modern approach to making sure we are looking after our customers.”
Finding a Healthy Footing
Business Link was the very first organization Shane reached out to with his business idea. A quick Google Search for “business help” is what led him to us. He saw we were putting on a Business Model Canvas Workshop and thought this might be the perfect place to learn more about starting a business. He also loved the fact that our services were free! Business Link has been helpful at every stage of his business—be it business planning, licensing, business structuring, accounting knowledge, marketing, retail store advice, or just bouncing ideas around.
“Connecting with an advisor is a really great way to stretch your vision and perspective, especially if you aren’t asking yourself the hard questions.”
Shane also participated in a pilot Entrepreneur Mentorship Program, a joint initiative between ATB and Business Link, in the Fall of 2018. The program provided amazing value and was a great way to learn first-hand from a mentor on what it takes to run a successful startup. Shane also got support from other organizations along the way, like Futurpreneur. He attended their Rock My Business Plan workshop and eventually applied for business startup financing through them.
“You can truly make amazing connections if you simply surround yourself with like-minded people and organizations like Business Link.”
Shane has words of wisdom for budding entrepreneurs ready to take that first step: “Try to find something you are passionate about because it’s a lot of work, but if you love what you do, you won’t mind putting in the long hours, and you will be able to break through any obstacles coming your way.”
Shining the Light
Giving back to the community has also been a core piece of the business model since the very beginning. Customers are encouraged to bring any gently used shoes they would like to donate to the less fortunate. Shoes are cleaned and then dropped off at local donation centres like Hope Mission—giving shoes a second life and helping the environment at the same time!