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Benjamin Martinez of REEWAY: 5 Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career In The Fashion Industry

Passion for me is paramount. Why is that? Because a passion is something you can do without looking at the clock, without grumbling and without forcing yourself. Passion is love and if you transmit love through your ideas people will love you and feel it. You can’t succeed if you don’t love what you do!

As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Benjamin Martinez.

Benjamin Martinez, a 25-year-old graphic designer and fashion enthusiast, has the pulse of what consumers want in their shoes — a way to stand out with confidence and self-expression without breaking the bank.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My name is Benjamin Martinez, I am 25 years old. I have a degree in graphic design. I’m passionate about fashion, I’ve always wanted to differentiate myself by the way I dress. I have always broken the codes by putting a lot of colors to express myself. Dressing myself has always given me confidence. I could express myself through the clothes I wore on a daily basis and I could assert myself by being what I wanted without worrying about judgments and looks. So this is the funny story that gave me the idea to create REEWAY. I was coming back from McDonald’s in Bordeaux to surprise my girlfriend (romantic, isn’t it?) and I was wearing black shoes, pants and t-shirt, but I had a khaki jacket. And I thought it would be really cool to be able to turn my black shoes into khaki to go with my vest. That’s how I got the idea to create REEWAY. Dress up your shoes! Isn’t it great? Being able to match your shoes to your clothes anywhere and anytime and not the other way around. The simplicity of only putting on all white or all black shoes to go with our clothes bored me. I wanted to eliminate the time spent picking out pairs of shoes to wear with different outfits and find a way to stand out with confidence and self-expression without breaking the bank.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?

Yes, of course! But I think there are two stories that stand out, although I could tell so many. But the first one is the encounter with our factory. I went to Portugal while I was finishing my studies in France without having any idea where I was going or what I was doing. I said to myself: “I’ll go with my backpack and I’ll see the shoe manufacturers one by one and we’ll see which one gives me the best impression.” Once I arrived in Portugal an agent had contacted me on Instagram, I met him and he took me to several factories, one of them lost in the mountains around Porto. The reception I got from the owner and the team was so warm that I knew right away that it was the right one. They immediately adhered to the innovative concept of REEWAY that they spoke about it to all their acquaintances… This reception is the most important point of the beginning of REEWAY because it was really the key point of the start of the adventure. Now it has become a family with whom I am literally in contact every day to advance on new ideas.

Then of course, the second little anecdote that all designers in fashion will agree on, is the day I saw for the first time a completely unknown person wearing my shoes. You can’t imagine the effect it had and the pride one can feel at that moment. This moment will always be engraved in my memory because it was on June 21 in France, the day of the music festival and there were thousands of people in the streets. For me to come across the person in REEWAY’s in the middle of this crowd was just great and a sign for me that it was only the beginning.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

To be an entrepreneur, you have to expect mistakes to happen and some are bigger than others. This story still makes me laugh. At the first launch, I completely forgot about our interchangeable skins! When creating a new brand, and especially with a completely new concept, it’s easy to focus on product development, sourcing materials, branding, creating a website, getting orders, etc. Luckily, I shipped the product to my family first, who called me and said, “Ben, you know you don’t just make basic shoes. They’re supposed to be interchangeable but we don’t have the skin patterns.” So we laughed and I sent them the skins with an extra color! I’ve learned to always make a list of what I have to do each day and add even the most random things that seem obvious, because when you get so wrapped up in something, it’s easy to forget things!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Obviously the answer is our CONCEPT!

While a shoe closet may be a dream for some, it’s not a reality for many. Yet, who doesn’t love dressing up an outfit with the perfect shoes, right? Today, everyone from fashionistas to business women/men change their shoes as often as they change their wardrobe, all with one pair of sneakers.

You read that right. Reinvent yourself with REEWAY, an everyday shoe for those who love different styles and options for matching outfits. There’s a perfect unisex look waiting for you, so go ahead and dress up a pair with the skins of your choice and save space in your closet, too! Our sneakers, designed in Porto, Portugal, never go out of style with 12 colors that combine to create 78 different styles!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Work with people you enjoy spending time with. You’ll spend the majority of your days with them. Make sure these people give you energy, instead of draining it.

You also need to take a breath and stop for a while so you don’t drown in what you’re doing. This would not be beneficial and you will get frustrated quickly.

Above all, never give up because success does not come overnight. You have to be able to bounce back from things and always see the glass half full and not empty. Perseverance will be your success

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

When we know that 95% of the world production of sneakers is made in Asia in rather dubious conditions, we were very demanding about the working conditions in the workshop we chose. About twenty craftsmen, more women than men, young or more experienced, work every day with passion to make our shoes. And that changes everything.

In the world of fashion and footwear, there are so many things that we must and can change. Did you know that more than 60 million pairs of shoes are produced every day around the world. This overproduction accelerates pollution. Our environment needs help.

The process of making the sole of a normal shoe also leaves the largest carbon footprint. To make a shoe, it takes almost 10 kg of carbon dioxide and to make the sole, it takes almost 2/3 of that amount.

This is why we created REEWAY. Our concept allows us to reduce waste. How do we do it? The manufacturing process of the sole of a shoe is what leaves the largest carbon footprint. With REEWAY, you have several different shoes by owning only one. And the crazy thing is that if you buy our shoes with our 12 interchangeable colors, you can combine them in 78 different ways.

REEWAY is a game changer because we save your money and we also help the environment by creating less waste.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Take care of your skin, it’s the only outfit you can’t take off”

Paradoxically I created a concept with interchangeable skins to give life to your shoes, to have fun, to assume and to affirm your style without being afraid of being judged. I wanted to create a sustainable shoe with a concept of having an infinite number of possibilities.

So you’re going to tell me “Why this quote?”

Because my father was not so lucky. He was afflicted with Melanoma, a skin cancer, and wasn’t able to change his skin. Throughout his illness until the end he was my inspiration and still is of course.

The day I knew that my concept had a meaning and would revolutionize the world of fashion was when I presented it to my father and he told me: “It’s incredible, I wish I could be like your shoes and have a spare skin”.

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

People are more concerned about where products come from and who makes them, and want to make their purchases in a thoughtful and responsible way.

The brands themselves, small or big, are also turning to more ecological creations and that is the future of fashion.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.

1- A taste for risk

Nothing ventured, nothing gained! I wanted to revolutionize the world of shoes by making them interchangeable so I wouldn’t have to buy 10 different pairs.

I was not sure if it would work or not but I always told myself that if I had not done it I would never have known. And today I’m very happy about it! And this is only the beginning!

2- Patience

We cannot succeed overnight, it is not possible. The work will pay off after a while if we give ourselves the means!

3- Determination

This is the same as the previous point. Determination is the most important point to succeed! You have to give yourself the means. You have to fight and prove your strength. Determination will make you unstoppable!

4- Creativity

I think that creativity is an important point in the fashion world. It’s very difficult to create a brand that doesn’t bring anything new to consumers. People are looking for novelty, they want to be surprised. Make sure you offer people the unexpected!

Personally, I would have never created a pair of shoes just to create a pair of shoes like the others. I needed to be different!

5- Passion

Passion for me is paramount. Why is that? Because a passion is something you can do without looking at the clock, without grumbling and without forcing yourself. Passion is love and if you transmit love through your ideas people will love you and feel it. You can’t succeed if you don’t love what you do!

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

Ecology and respect for the environment. I think we can all make efforts on this to reduce as much as possible what harms the environment and me first. Even if I create less waste and use recycled packaging, the next step for me is to make REEWAY products 100% from recycled materials. But the fashion world is moving towards this and it is very encouraging!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Stop judging people by the color of their skin!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram : @reeway_

@benm_art

Website : www.reewayfootwear.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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