Black Business Spotlight: HYPE

Photo by Ashley Lauren (l-r): Arif Mohamed, Sir Curtis Kirby, Yassir Mohamed, and Abdulkarim Abdulle.

Social entrepreneurs launch upscale shoe store in Uptown

The owners of the new HYPE shoe store in Uptown Minneapolis will be hosting a grand opening on Saturday, March 26. The shop is located at 2835 Hennepin Avenue.

The business is owned by Arif Mohamed, Abdulkarim “AK” Abdulle, Sir Curtis Kirby, and Yassir Mohamed. There’s a special meaning behind the business name: HYPE means “Help Your People Eat,” Abdulle said.

Initially, “We were going back and forth with designs—as we were doing that, we recognized HYPE,” said Yassir Mohamed.

Arif Mohamed emphasized, “We all came from humble beginnings, so we know the importance of helping people who are on the come up; we’ve all been there. We’ve all been at the bottom, and we know what it feels like.” The owners are grateful to be opening a store in the neighborhood.

He added, “We want to use our platform to help local artists and give them exposure they need.” The store showcases local clothing designers and upscale shoes.

The business is fairly new. Arif Mohamed said that the business started online a year and a half ago. They chose to work as a collective to bring the dream to fruition. “We all have different roles and different expectations so it all blends in really well,” Yassir Mohamed said.

“Honestly, we could’ve outsourced a lot of stuff—we thought it would be a good idea to do it ourselves so it can look a particular way,” Arif Mohamed said.

Abdulle added, “As soon as we signed the lease, we wanted to bond over it. We know that this might go somewhere bigger than we imagined, and we started this by painting and doing the groundwork by ourselves.”

The entrepreneurs aspire to make a change in the community through their business. “We really want to build the block and really own it,” said Kirby. He added, “In order to do this right here, it takes a special team effort.”

Photo by Ashley Lauren “We really want to build the block and really own it,” said Sir Curtis Kirby.

Starting the business wasn’t an easy task. The owners explained that it took a lot of patience to launch their business. Kirby noted, “I think it’s good to pray, manifest, dream of different things you want.”

Abdulle said, “Right now we’re all aligned, and we have the same goal.” He added, “Getting a brick and mortar was a big ordeal; there’s a lot of things that went behind this—there’s a lot of ups and downs that came with it.”

When asked what inspired them to start this business, Yassir Mohamed said, “I was always into fashion since I was young, but I was raised by my mom, a single mother—I couldn’t afford getting four, five pairs of shoes.”

He continued, “As I grew older and got a job, I started buying more pairs—then this reselling game started where you buy the shoe and the shoe sells out, you can make a little bit of money off it.” As a result, he was able to generate a profit from selling shoes.

Yassir Mohamed elaborated, “I got introduced to AK [Abdulkarim Abdulle], I knew Kirby—then we just meshed in,” and Arif Mohamed is his cousin, who became a business partner later. He added, “All of us love sneakers, all of us love fashion—we all love doing it.”

Before they opened the HYPE storefront, Abdulle said, “We were selling shoes out of Kirby’s house for the longest.” But “we outgrew the crib,” Kirby said.

He added, “I think there’s been a lot of gatekeepers in the sneaker game—so we’re culture shifters. I want someone to come in here that has zero knowledge about shoes and feel like they can ask me anything—or someone that knows about shoes and can put me on game,” he said.

The social entrepreneurs shared advice for the youth and aspiring entrepreneurs: “Always dream, because you can do it—if you really put the passion and sweat equity behind it, anything’s possible,” Abdulle said.

Kirby shared, “Expand your network, expand your circle, don’t be afraid to try different things and jump outside of your circle, because that’s our community’s biggest problem.”

Yassir Mohamed said, “Just being open to taking advice from other people—open your mindset a little bit more. When you keep that mindset I feel like you’ll always stay fresh and always have room to grow.”

Arif Mohamed added, “My advice for the youth is do what you love, it’s very important—because when you do what you love, you do it very well.”

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