London’s first female-only sneakerhead store celebrates first anniversary

Lisa Barlow-Weber outside her store Pic: Natalie Winter

Kickslove is not just a sneakerhead store in Deptford, it’s London’s first female-only sneakerhead store.

In October 2016, Lisa Barlow-Weber, a Bristol-born sneakerhead – for those who do not know, it is someone who is an enthusiast for sneakers –  took a massive gamble when she entered a male-occupied arena and opened her store in the newly developed Deptford Market Yard.

It’s just over a year since then and the gamble has paid off. Sitting directly under the train tracks of Deptford Railway Station, Kickslove has become a hub for female sneaker enthusiasts, and with a baby girl on the way, Lisa’s exciting journey has only just begun.

“I’m gonna be the boss and be a mum,” Lisa says as she perches on a long leather sofa at the back of her store. R&B blasts through the former railway arch, now a vibrant and playful vault of shoes with a display stretching its way down the centre of the store, and corresponding clothes and imagery circling the outside. Shimmering gold graffiti decorates the floor. “It’s been challenging at times but it’s also been amazing. The reception that I get when females come into the store and they realise that it’s just for them, is a really nice feeling.”

You only need to spend a few moments browsing through the expansive collection inside Kickslove before realising that what Lisa is offering is unmatched by other stores in the city.

Inside the store Pic: Tyler Lewis

“I tend to want to offer the female consumer something a bit different and exclusive because that’s just not been done before. I try to get things from either men’s or women’s lines that another store isn’t going to buy. If a shoe has got a special story to it, or a brand has collaborated with specifically female designers, that’s what I’m looking for.”

Lisa started working in footwear retail when she was 16 and then, whilst she studied for both her business degree and her international management masters. In 2010, she moved to London to work for Nike’s UK headquarters to work on female product lines.

“It was my dream to work at Nike and that was it, I wasn’t going to stop until I got a job with them. Then, Nike showed up at the store I was working in and I was like, ‘Oh my god. This is it, this is the opportunity.’ So, I sold myself on the spot and the next thing I know, I got an interview and got a job in London headquarters.”

Lisa worked for a year and a half specifically on the footwear line, a dream job for a sneakerhead, before doing visual merchandising for the company for three years.

“My career started to go in a direction that I didn’t want it too. I’ve always wanted to have my own sneaker store and through research and customer insight from working at Nike, I knew that there wasn’t a female sneakerhead store in London. That’s kind of where the idea was born out of.”

In July 2016, Lisa took her move towards independence leaving Nike on her birthday. Kickslove was opened in the autumn of 2016 in Deptford which seemed a natural fit for the up and coming female boss. South-East London has a huge market of sneakerhead’s, but no real supply for the demand.

“A sneakerhead is someone with a relatively large collection of shoes and with a mad passion for sneakers. They’re someone that follows the culture and loves the story behind a shoe versus just buying a shoe for the hype.”

Just before the stores first birthday, Kickslove beat hundreds of other top fashion retailers in PRS for Music’s national Music Makeover competition. Kickslove was transformed as DJ’s, singers and dancers filled Lisa’s space for a night that celebrated Lisa’s success as a business woman and as an inspiration to young women.

Now, Lisa can look forward to her next exciting story, becoming a mum.

“I think it’s exciting for her to know that her mum owns an independent store and took the risk and left a full-time job. Because this is such a big passion of mine, and it’s what I love to do, I want her to be involved as much as possible.”

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