Unknwn Interview with Co-Owner Frankie Walker
Here over at SlamXHype we recently caught up with Frankie Walker the co-owner and founder of Miami’s new prime retail spot Unknwn. Walker gathered his closest friends, including NBA superstar LeBron James as the other owner, to open a new store in Miami’s popular Aventura Mall hoping to what he calls “bring something cool to a mass situation.” Check out the opening of the store December, 16th. Enjoy.
SLAMXHYPE: Introduce yourself and give us some information on who you are.
I’m Frankie Walker, co-owner and founder of Unknwn. Well Lebron moved in with my family when he was eight years old so he’s like my older brother and that’s how we have that connection there. But basically in 2010 I came up with the idea to open an urban footwear clothing store which originally was going to be in Akron, OH. So I started to put together a small team that let me to Mike Hurley who I knew through High School and is one of Lebron’s friends as well. Me and Mike went about it together and we went to Lebron with the idea, and this is pre-him deciding to come to Miami, and he was all for it and thought it was a great idea and a great opportunity for myself, then he wanted to invest in the company. From there on, as you know, he made the move to Miami which kind of threw us off to say the least. He approached me with the idea of moving the store to Miami which I thought was a great idea. With us moving to Miami, we obviously were going to need to do it on a bigger scale. So we put together a bigger team. That’s when we reached out to Chris Julian who we knew from Undefeated in Las Vegas and then also reached out to Jaron Kanfer who went to high school with us, and we knew his father was a pretty prominent business man so that’s why we reached out to him. So that’s how the team was formed. That pretty much brought us to where we’re at. We had a 8 month location search, we had a lot of bumps in the road but we pretty much made it to where we are now.
SLAMXHYPE: What’s behind the name of the store?
It derived from all walks of life, being from Akron and Vegas. We’re basically unknown in the Miami community. None of us had an extensive reach out history except for Chris and we’re pretty much three or four unknown guys basically coming into a new city. So we’re just small town guys coming to a big city…
SLAMXHYPE: What made you guys want to open a shop?
Me personally, my whole sneaker drive that I was always into. Like in Akron, we were like “damn we have to drive 45 minutes to buy these pair of sneakers or outfit or just head all the way to Cleveland.” So instead of making that drive we’ve been to enough places and seen enough things to know what we like and to know what we think people here want to wear. We felt it was a good opportunity for us and of course Lebron’s brand as well.
SLAMXHYPE: Can you talk about the upcoming December 16th opening event.
Well we’re still in the development stages, but we’re doing the the Dec. 16th opening and Lebron will be present and also the launch of our private in-store label Unknwn brand with release.
SLAMXHYPE: Can you talk about the in-store label a little bit?
Well right now the Unknwn brand is developing really slowly and it’s all quality pieces. We don’t want to rush anything. We really made sure we dug into the quality aspect of the line, so we’re going to start off slowly but I think it’ll build strong and go from there. The Unknwn line will be available at the opening.
SLAMXHYPE: What are some of the collaborative products and exclusive offerings that are in the works?
We have some exclusive products with Beats by Dre and we have the Don snapbacks that are doing really well right now. Of course, we also have Lebron’s collection in the store. What we’re trying to do is basically build a new aspect for the way people might perceive an urban or footwear store and build something a little bit different. We also have a Nike Destroyer design station in the store, so that’ll be pretty cool. People can come in and design their own Destroyer jacket and send it out and then they’ll send it back to you. We also have an American Apparel station in the store as well. It’s all pretty cool.
SLAMXHYPE: What made you guys reach out to Chris Julian and your friends back in Ohio for this project?
Basically it was one of those things where I recognized the things Chris was doing in Vegas with Fruition and Undefeated and he understood our vision, what we wanted to do and how to bring something unique like this to such a vast situation like Aventura mall and the Miami area where there’s so much going on and so much diversity. I guess you could kind of compare Miami and Vegas in a sense where there’s a lot going on and a lot of tourists to where you have to carve your own niche to be unique and also be able to translate to the customer.
SLAMXHYPE: Explain everyone’s role in the store.
Well basically right now, it’s Chris and Mike who handle a lot of the merchandising and actual inventory. Jaron has basically been the kind of guy to get the build out done and make sure all of that is on point as well as some of the back financing. Then I oversee pretty much every aspect, like a little bit here, a little bit of merchandising and a little bit of everything. Right now my main focus is bridging the partnership between Unknwn and Nike. But for the most part I’m dabbling in a little bit of everything for the store.
SLAMXHYPE: What did you guys look for in brands that you brought in?
Well we looked for not only high quality brands, as far as well made stuff, but we looked for unique brands as well. Not necessarily brands that you’d absolutely recognize right off the back. It’s a lot of high end brands and it’s also a lot of hardcore streetwear brands which makes a nice mix of a little bit of everything and we decided to go that way because it represents what we feel we can bring to this Miami market. Since there’s a lot of sneaker, streetwear and urban stores in Miami, and plenty of high end stores here, we wanted to merge the two and introduce something that some people might not have heard in Miami or might not be hip to in a way to give them the option to explore.
SLAMXHYPE: What can we expect as far as the interior space of the store?
I think you’ll be really surprised. It’s going to be innovative to say the least. We decided to go with something modern, something really cool and sleek. We were really big on the technology aspect. We have a 45 iPad sneaker wall, which basically has every shoe attached to an iPad which will give you every detail of the shoe and it will also show you how we put that shoe together with outfits in the store. It’s pretty cool and I think everyone will be surprised with everything from the iPad wall to the checkout system we have to the sound of the speakers in the store to the Beats by Dre listening section. It’s really a detailed focus, I mean everything down to the smell of the store we picked ourselves.
SLAMXHYPE: Last words?
I just want everyone to come see exactly what we are. We’re an extension of a lot of different brands and also an extension of Lebron himself. We have a lot to offer to say the least to not only the hardcore skater or sneakerheads but also the sophisticated casual guy as well. We just want to hopefully start up a new trend to bring something cool to a mass situation such as Aventura mall which is huge and a very successful mall. So basically we’re just looking to bring mass cool into a situation like this.