Sneaker shop owners collaborate with local brands to expand their business
The Hype Mpls opened its doors in March of last year and has become a destination for professional athletes, artists, and social media celebs on their visits to the Twin Cities. Known for carrying the latest sneaker releases from Jordans to Yeezys, Hype is also the place to shop for locally owned clothing brands.
Abdulkarim Abdulle, co-founder of Hype, coined its name as an acronym for Help Your People Eat, a phrase that has since become a mantra for them.
On July 2, during the weeklong celebration of Somalia’s independence, the owners of Hype, a sneaker shop located near West 29th St. and Hennepin Avenue, threw a block party in the back lot of their store where several young East African entrepreneurs gathered to commemorate how far their community had come.
The event included a dunk tank, a food truck by Tender Lovin’ Chix, and tables and racks full of clothes for sale. Locally owned brands were prominently featured throughout the party to showcase entrepreneurship front and center.
The atmosphere was that of a 90s feel-good music video with friends embracing and laughing with one another. Various owners of The Hype sat in the dunk tank to allow friends and family a chance at dousing them while others danced to the DJ’s music.
Abdulle described how the idea of a block party came from one of their barbers who works at Cutz by Hype, a barbershop owned by the Hype team that came together earlier this year. “We were sitting at Hype one day. One of our barbers, Darryl, texted us, he said, ‘We need a meeting right now,’” Abdulle said.
“Darryl said, ‘Let’s do this block party. We gotta give back to the community. HYPE stands for helping people eat. Let’s help our people eat.’”
Sir Curtis Kirby, co-owner of Hype, says the team at Hype likes to run things differently compared to other businesses. There isn’t a hierarchy and all good ideas, such as the block party, are welcome.
“That’s what’s different about Hype,” said Kirby. “Most of the time things run under one person and they make the decisions, and you follow. But after our barber said it, we knew we had to make it happen. We all have different strengths and different connections. So, we all pulled together our different strengths and connections. And man, the city’s out right now. So clearly, they’re loving us,” he said of the block party.
Kirby is also a co-owner of the brand Sentrol Apparel, a streetwear brand local to Minneapolis. Hype has held several pop-up shops for local brands in the past year, including SlfMade, Kalsoni, and UnderDAWG.
UnderDAWG’s owner, Ismail Ugas, sees Hype as having paved the way for collaboration, sparking the idea for other brands to collaborate. He lamented the fact that sometimes people may wait to see if others support a brand before they choose to. But he believes that may be changing.
“I did a collaboration with SlfMade. He has his own audience. I had my own audience. If we bring it together, it’s just nothing but eating,” said Ugas. “So why not just help them collaborate [with] each other? It’s just reaching out your hand and grabbing it and just putting them together.
“I really think that collaboration is just the key to more growth. If you keep going, you’re gonna eventually succeed.”
Being part of the next generation of East African immigrants in Minnesota has factored into the journey toward entrepreneurship for individuals like Muna Mohamed, owner of Kalsoni, a modest wear athleisure brand. She highlighted the importance of showing up for friends’ events as a way of celebrating each other’s successes.
“I think we all come from a generation where our parents tell us to be doctors and things like that. But I think we’re creating a new group of communing for ourselves and paving our own ways,” she said.
Arif Ahmed, another co-owner of Hype, underlined the theme of the party as having it be a place where entrepreneurs can share tips and tricks with one another on their businesses and encourage one another in their journeys.
“Competition is really like an old way of thinking. But now it’s collaboration. That’s like the new way,” Ahmed said. “I see more businesses of color popping up, and it’s just going to be very normal. That’s kind of our goal—to show others, ‘If we can do it, why not you?’”
The Hype Mpls is located at 2835 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. For more information, contact 612-545-5314. Cutz by Hype is located at 2817 Hennepin Ave. S., Ste. 110, Minneapolis. For more information, contact 612-323-6542.