Owner at Tier Zero Ekin
Taken: In front of the store
Photography by: Dro Photography
Meet Leo. Father. Sneaker Enthusiast. Fashion Consultant. And most importantly, Business Owner of Tier Zero Ekin, a new sneaker boutique in the MiMo district of Miami off Biscayne Boulevard. Having worked at legendary Miami sneaker staple Shoe Gallery, Leo finally decided to branch off for himself by opening a new sneaker shop that opened its doors last November.
What Leo brings to the table is that he is the perfect example of a true Miamian. He represents for the city (and Dominicans alike) by cultivating the sneaker culture and the music through his takes on fashion and his attention to customer service. When you first meet Leo, you feel like you’ve known him for five or ten years. That’s a gift of an impression that not many people can leave on you and Leo knows that. And its not that he tries to be that way, he was born that way. He’s a genuinely good guy, and he rides hard for this “305” area code. And that’s why celebrities, musicians, athletes and LOCALS support him.
We wanted to shed light on his new store and his story via this #MiamiPeople series, while wishing him much success in his new venture. So read this and go stop by his store today and just say hello…while checking out a growing selection of sneakers and curated fashion pieces of course.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]1[/dropcap]What’s your favorite place in Miami that has some meaning to you…?
I would say the Brickell Bay Boardwalk alongside Brickell Bay Drive. You can also call it “El Malecon” next to the water like how they do in Dominican Republic. The sidewalk along the shore. Its an important place for me, not only in my past but also my future. I used to sometimes end up there arguing with my now wife, then girlfriend, but I kind of switched it up to turn that area into being a nice memory for me now because I asked her to be my wife there. I proposed to her there. Its a nice area. You can see the city, the beaches, Key Biscayne, everything.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]2[/dropcap]What was the inspiration for the store?
I believe that any human can see fashion in a different way, their own way. Fashion is something personal. Its the way you see things. If you see something or wear something and you like it, that’s fashion. And the store, I wanted a small place, but with a great energy in it that people from all over the world can come to Tier Zero Ekin and see that little blue shop that keeps that great energy. A lot of the spirit and energy has been gone [in the city and in general]. Everyone’s always thinking about money, money, money. Money isn’t everything. We show love and show respect. We take care of our people and we take care of our culture. I wanted to bring culture back with the store.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]3[/dropcap]What separates Tier Zero Ekin from other stores?
Everybody is equal no matter if you have money or not. So when you come in here, you get the same love as everybody. People feel at home here. The blue walls, the projector, the shoes, the tables and pieces they haven’t seen. And by pieces, I mean clothing as well as pieces of furniture.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]4[/dropcap]Like the metal detector that you have in the middle of the table!
Exactly. I call it the fugazzi detector. It tells you if you have fake sneakers or not. *Laughs*
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]5[/dropcap]What about the “free” wall you have in the front of the store?
In the entrance I have a wall that I put stickers, pouches, wallets, glasses and who knows, you might even see little rolls of money there as well. Everything there is free for anybody to take. Oh and one time I put a Supreme pouch on the wall. There was a customer buying something and his friend was just eyeing the wall. I told them very calmly that everything on the wall there is free – and that friend ran so fast to grab that Supreme pouch. He was so happy. I made somebody’s day there. I’m happy about it.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]6[/dropcap]Why did you want to open up shop in the Little River and MiMo District area of Biscayne Boulevard?
Well I get my haircuts next door with Nic from Tru Cutz. Nick grew up looking at me back in Shoe Gallery and in Allapattah as well. He used to cut LeBron’s kids’ hair. So I went to him once and saw that the spot next door was open and for lease. So I thought that maybe I could get it and put a little store. So I spoke up, looked for the down payment and they gave it to me. And regarding the neighborhood, we’re in the middle of everything. The store is 80 blocks away from my old job (Shoe Gallery) and I’m right in the middle of the city. If people have to go to Aventura, they have to pass by the store. If people from up north have to go Downtown, I’m also on the way for them. Biscayne Boulevard, since 1994 when I came from Dominican Republic, I lived on Biscayne. I was living in Dupont Plaza. Biscayne Boulevard is really special to me and now my store is on Biscayne. So I’m definitely claiming Biscayne. Me and Nic from next door definitely claim Biscayne with our hashtag #KingsOfTheBoulevard. We are really becoming the kings.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]7[/dropcap]You have to tell me about the Business Owner snapback you have on.
This hat is like a trophy to me. I worked so many years for a company that I love and loved. It was like a college to me working there and it took me 15 years to graduate. This right here, in the front of the hat it says “Business Owner”. It tells me everyday when I see it, that I made it. Its a dream come true. YOU ARE THE BUSINESS OWNER. Then on the side you have the word “jefe” on the side that gives props to my latino descendants that are business owners out there. And in the back, you can customize it to your own business name, which for me I put Tier Zero Ekin. I have a lot of people waiting on the hat. And its not about being conceited or anything like that. If you aren’t a business owner then this can help you work towards that. This hat is for anyone.
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#ffffff” background=”#f2594b”]8[/dropcap]You have a unique form of customer service…you really make your customers feel at home…
I have a tattoo on my chest that says “Amor, Respeto Y Vida”, which means ‘Love, Respect & Life”. I have the love of my family, the respect of everybody I know and the life to live it. So that’s the same way I deliver myself to the customers that shop here. I love them , I respect them and I show them how to live the life that I’m living right now. So when they come in, I treat them as family and friends, even if I don’t know them. Sometimes when people buy something, I tell them “thank you from me and my family”. From my wife, from my daughter….thank you. That’s the magic I have with my customers though. I become friends with them.
You can check out Tier Zero Ekin at 8206 Biscayne Blvd in Miami, and by following them on Instagram at www.instagram.com/tierzeroekin
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