Detroit's Rick Williams is a sneakerhead, entrepreneur, and one of half the duo responsible for the creation of Metro Area fashion boutique, Burn Rubber.
Founded in 2004 in collaboration with Roland Coit (also known as Ro Spit), the Burn Rubber brand has continued to evolve and entrench itself in Detroit’s vibrant sneaker community. The establishment is known for it’s creative custom collaborations that pay homage to Detroit’s history and iconography.
DISTINCT LIFE (another of Rick’s entrepreneurial endeavors that aims to reinvigorate local businesses in Detroit and the surrounding Metro Area) has allowed him to invest in the area’s creatives, businesses, and youth, and build meaningful relationships with major companies like Heineken, New Balance, and Reebok. He has made it a point to highlight and accentuate the enormous potential of his hometown.
As a sneakerhead, aspiring businessman, and Michigander myself, it is with great pleasure that I bring you an interview with such a pillar of the community.
Prox: I noticed that a lot of the photos you take tend to be in black & white. Is there any symbolic significance to this or is it just personal taste?
Rick: There is no symbolic meaning, it’s really just a personal preference. I enjoy the timelessness of a black and white image.
Prox: One thing that we don’t hear enough about is how aspiring businessmen should go about handling sponsorships and collaborations with companies. What is some advice you can give us to help us get the most out of these partnerships while still protecting ourselves and staying true to our own brand?
Rick: When I take on any type of partnership or collaboration it has to be something that I’m into. If you look back at all of my previous projects, they have all been done with companies that I enjoy and respect. I think that whatever choice you make when it comes to partnering your brand, you have to ask yourself if this is something that you would do without being paid. If the answer is yes, then that’s a sign that you are going in the right direction.
Prox: What typically dictates how you design and create the ideas for the Burn Rubber series? Do you drive around Detroit in search of inspiration or do the ideas come from other sources?
Rick: When I design any project be it for Burn Rubber or the DISTINCT LIFE I try to start with a story that I would like to tell. After I decide on the story, I start figuring out what materials and colors that I can use to tell that story in the most effective way.
Prox: The collaborations you’ve done so far have garnered excellent reception in the sneaker community. What is one silhouette that you hope to put your personal spin on someday?
Rick: I would love to work on the adidas ZX700 boat shoe. I have been a fan of this shoe for years now. I don’t think that adidas releases enough of them.
Prox: Many style and sneaker enthusiasts dream of opening up a boutique someday. What is something that you wish you had known in the beginning about owning a shop and creating a brand?
Rick: I wish I had a better understanding of the tax laws before I got started. The best advice that I can give someone that is looking to start a shop is to find a knowledgeable accountant that is willing to take the time to make sure you understand the finical impact of every decision that you make with your business.
Prox: How would you describe the current style climate in Detroit at the moment? What are some brands and silhouettes you see people leaning towards in the city?
Rick: I have honestly stopped paying attention.
Prox: Ultimately, what do you think Burn Rubber represents for yourself, Ro, and Detroit?
Rick: I can only speak for myself when I say that Burn Rubber will always be my foundation, the business that has given me the opportunity to develop my skills as a businessman. It is the place that has provided me with so many meaningful relationships and experiences.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Rick: Shooting Photos.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?
Rick: Hebru Brantly, Tristan Eaton, Upendo Taylor, Naturel, and Kevin Lyons.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
Rick: Do what makes you happy.
Prox: Information on upcoming projects and releases?
Rick: I have an exciting project coming out with Puma in Q1 of 2017. Be on the look out for that!
Prox: Top five sneakers?
Rick: Burn Rubber x New Balance MT580BR, Jordan 6 (infrared/black), adidas x Bape Superstar 80’s (the first one), 1970’s Chuck Taylor Black with White outsole, and Black and White Nike Footscape.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Rick: Be creative, life is about way more than sneakers and clothing. Success should be measured by how many people are better off because you lived. God bless.
You can learn more about Rick and shop Burn Rubber, here.
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