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The Daily Tar Heel

New student-run business will help students keep their kicks clean

(from left) Sachin Bettadapur, Mario Santiago, Brandon Ivey, Connor Murphy, and Parker Moss are part of a student-run shoe cleaning business
(from left) Sachin Bettadapur, Mario Santiago, Brandon Ivey, Connor Murphy, and Parker Moss are part of a student-run shoe cleaning business

Zapatos Express, a business created by students, now offers a shoe cleaning service with free delivery and drop-offs.

Brandon Ivey, the founder of Zapatos Express, said he came up with the idea for the business when he realized that everyone’s shoes get ruined but there are no services on campus to help students. 

“People wear them until they get destroyed, and they just end up buying a new pair when (the old ones) can be salvaged,” Ivey said.

Ivey started Zapatos Express in early February. He, along with the five members on his team, have specific tasks ranging from operation management, business development, financial management and social media.

Mario Santiago, the head of business development, helped Ivey to further expand the range of the business.

“When Brandon approached me about the idea, he was mainly looking at like sneakers and sports shoes. Brandon has that passion. On my end, I really like, you know, the loafers, the Sperrys, and that’s just a whole different way to clean those shoes,” Santiago said. “So when he came up to me about this idea, this kind of came to mind as a way of expanding the business and offering people like me, who might not have as many sneakers, to be another customer.”

The cost for cleaning one pair of sneakers will be $5. For nicer dress shoes, it will cost $7.

Sachin Bettadapur, the chief operating officer, said the business is based on a market which has been completely untapped and their business has a great potential to achieve success.

“We think that our initial success is an indication because we have a wide demographic of people who (are) coming and purchasing our service,” Bettadapur said.

Though Zapatos Express had an early success, building customers’ trust is still a hard task.

“It is a lot to have someone come to your dorm, pick up your shoes and for you trust them with your $80 to $200 pairs of shoes, clean them and bring them back at one time,” Ivey said.

Junior nursing major Gabby Romero said she hasn’t heard about the business but would give it a try.

“I definitely have some dirty shoes that could get a good cleaning,” Romero said. “I will be interested to find out, like, what are their processes for cleaning shoes.”

Ivey said he thought shoe care is important to people not only because it helps to protect the shoes but also because it gives people confidence.

“It gives me a confidence when I walk around,” Ivey said. “Confidence is a big important part of, I guess, every aspect of life. You gotta be confident with whatever you do. Like, starting this business, I had to be confident that I can run it with my friends. And I think that people understand.”

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