Young entrepreneurs peddle kicks at East Lansing’s House of Soles


Twin brothers Lonnie and Lennie Smith, 19, began collecting, selling and trading sneakers in 2018, during their freshman year at Haslett High School.

When they turned 16, they started looking for jobs to help save up for their first cars. Their mother, Nadia Sellers, herself the CEO of a few local companies, encouraged them to try and turn their shoe-selling passion into a steady stream of revenue.

In 2020, the twins leased their first brick-and-mortar space in Okemos, branding the business House of Soles.

“At the time, there weren’t a lot of resale shoe stores in the area,” Lonnie Smith said. “There are a few more now, but at the time, you had to go to the west side of Lansing or elsewhere. Our goal was to create a safe haven for kids to be able to come in, vibe, look at different shoes and have fun.”

Seeking space for additional growth, the twins moved their operation to a 1,900-square-foot space in downtown East Lansing in 2022. Lonnie Smith said they “never really got a proper grand opening,” and they felt it was necessary to hold a grand re-opening event on May 11 to continue to get the word out.

“A lot of people were coming in and saying, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard of your store.’ We never really got that coverage, so that’s why we did the grand re-opening,” he said.

The re-opening was accompanied by some new offerings, including shoe restoration and custom design services that can be booked in-store with Jamari Peete of Big Peete Restorations. In August, Kenny Eaton will begin leasing part of the shop’s north end to sell vintage clothing and apparel through his brand, Retro Royalty. 

House of Soles stocks more than 200 pairs of shoes at any given time. About a quarter of them are secondhand, while a handful of pairs are displayed on consignment.

The shop has also started offering apparel, such as shorts, T-shirts and hats, which stemmed from Lonnie’s decision to study fashion design at Central Michigan University.

This fall, Lennie will take over many of the responsibilities at the shop as Lonnie heads back to Mount Pleasant for his junior year of college. While he’s gone, Lonnie hopes to see more new customers discover what House of Soles has to offer.

“People should know that we’re very welcoming. They don’t even have to buy anything. They can just come in and vibe, chill with us and talk about sports or whatever,” he said.



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