Nicholas Reese Has Got Sole(s)

5 min read

The path to Well Done Marketing was a boomerang for our new art director, Nicholas Reese, leading him from Indianapolis to New York City and back to Indianapolis in less than one year’s time. But that’s OK because he’s got the stomach for such an adventure. And the footwear, too.

We learned about Nicholas’ professional about-face as well as his sneaker collection—which is 150 pairs strong—as we welcomed him to Well Done with our traditional Q&A.

Q: Two moves in a year’s time is a lot. How did that happen?

A: I was working as a designer at another Indianapolis agency in 2018 and also freelancing for WDRFA, the Indy-based streetwear brand. Everything was good, but I wanted to try to get into the streetwear business and maintain my freelancing business at the same time. So, in December 2018 I quit my day job and planned a move to New York City.

Q: Why NYC?

A: Streetwear really got started there in the 1990s, and if you want to work with a big brand, you have to be there. It’s not a thing where you interview for a job. It’s very niche, so you have to show up and become part of the community to get work. I had a couple of brands in mind—Aime Leon Dore and The Hundreds. I knew I loved the same things those people love and if I showed up eventually something would happen.

Q: Sounds like a good plan. So why the quick turnaround? (We’d like to think it’s all about Well Done, but there’s probably more to the decision to come back to Indy.)

A: The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t part of the plan. It started before I left and I almost straight up didn’t go. But everything was shutting down everywhere, and my girlfriend and some good friends were in New York, so I went. When I got there, it was really sad because it affected everything that happens in the brick and mortar stores of streetwear brands. You don’t really go to a store to pick up clothes. You go to the store to talk to people, and that’s what I needed to do. But they all closed and used their online stores instead.

Q: What did you do?

A: A lot of freelance work—mostly branding and marketing, but also clothing design and general graphic design. One of the WDRFA guys who has a lot of connections (food and lifestyle journalist Mike Gillis) recommended me to his colleagues and friends.

Q: Tell us more about WDRFA. What does it stand for and how did you first get involved with them?

A: It’s an acronym for We Don’t Run From Adversity. I first met Mike G. (Gillis) and his partner Gary Patterson at Got SOLE?, where I worked in high school before, sadly, it closed. We did a collaboration together through the store. That led to me working directly with WDRFA—it’s more of a side gig and passion project than a money maker. They like to partner with other Indianapolis businesses, so we designed a couple of mugs for Commissary (Barber and Barista). We’ve also released collections with the men’s store James Dant.

Q: And what about Got SOLE? It seems like that store was a big part of your life. Is that true?

A: They were really nice people and they loved shoes, just like me. I rode my bike there the first time because I heard they had Air Max 95s—it’s a shoe you couldn’t get at Foot Locker. I started hanging around and ended up working there, but it was like I didn’t get paid since I kept buying shoes. A long time ago, I got up to 336 pairs, but I’ve halved that in the past couple of years.

Q: That bike ride really paid off for you. Doesn’t most of WDRFA’s merchandise sell out fast?

A: It does. It’s limited edition stuff. Once we latch onto a concept, we work to execute it in the highest-quality way possible. By the time we’re finished and ready to put it on the site for sale, we’re also ready to move on to something new. That’s what makes our clothing drops sporadic and small. We also never restock. So it sells out fast. But it helps to know someone who knows when items are going on the site, though, if anyone at Well Done is interested in a head’s up.

Q: You’ll have some takers on that, for sure. Speaking of Well Done, what led you to our doorstep?

A: I decided, with all the uncertainty, I would focus on expanding my creative skills and put out some feelers. A former colleague reached out, saying she had recommended me to Well Done. And she was just over the moon about it. At first, I thought Well Done was cool and then three interviews later, I had a crush.

Q: Clearly, we are fond of you, too! What do you want to accomplish at Well Done?

A: I really appreciate the idea of learning from people who know more than me and getting a little guidance and nudging. Being around other creatives often reveals many more doors to walk through than you’d find working alone.

Q: So, what do you want to do with all this? Do you know where all your work with these different entities is taking you professionally?

A: At this point, it’s a journey. I think these two things will exist together for a long time. I will love clothes forever, and I’ll love advertising and design forever. They definitely compliment each other and, to me, it’s having two avenues for getting better at stuff.

Q: So then, is that what motivates you?

A: I just have a passion for that marriage of form and function. The shoe is the same as the logo. It looks a certain way and it functions a certain way. And when those two things are joined together, it really doesn’t matter what I’m looking at, in what medium, I’m thrilled.