BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Out of every 100,000 Black adults, only 380 become business owners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and only one out of 10 of those businesses will survive. One of those successful shops is in Baton Rouge.

“They just didn’t believe in us. A lot of people told us that we couldn’t open this store. A lot of people told us. They told us it wasn’t a good idea,” said the owners of Another Sole Chance.

Kaleb Cayette, Leonard Fields, and De’Eric Robinson grew up together in Donaldsonville. Their parents are hard-working middle-class people who made sure they had everything they needed. 

“I only had two pair of shoes, you know, I had to rotate every two days I wear the same two pairs of shoes. Food-wise, clothes-wise, we ain’t really struggle with none of that. Basically my wants,” said Fields.

They said blood couldn’t make them closer, they are like brothers. 

“K through 12th we went to every school, every grade we were in. Some grades we were all in the same class, some grades we weren’t but after school, we played sports together. So just hanging out building that relationship,” said Robinson.

Shoes were their first love.

“The Air Jordan three, power blues. I bought those with my first McDonald’s check and it was amazing. It was my first pair so I was proud,” said Fields.

The three enrolled at Louisiana State University and wanted to turn their love for shoes into a lawful business.

“College dormitory, we started selling out of our cars and trunks,” said Fields. “We would go to the local malls and pick up shoes we thought we could sell for and profit.”

The trio’s business skyrocketed after learning how to market on social media. Then, it was time to open a store. Something, they said, wasn’t an easy task.

“We faced a lot of trouble trying to get this building in Baton Rouge, I would say because of the color of our skin,” said Fields. “Banks and other private investors, they’re a little bit more hesitant to giving out a business loan to someone like he said, young and somewhat a Black. They said, ‘Oh, he is not experienced, he’s fresh out of college, he’s 21, he’s immature and he is going to mess up.’”

Having no one to ask for advice and no background on how to do it, they figured it out on their own.

“We all funded this with our own money, individually, because we couldn’t get a business loan,” said Fields.

After rebranding themselves and saving all they had, Another Sole Chance was born.

“It was so amazing not because it was our first store, I wouldn’t say it like that. I say it’s amazing because of the trials and tribulations we went through to get to this store,” said Fields. “Like I said, it was a four to five-month process, so when we finally got the keys and we finally got in here it was like man. And the first day we open all the support we had just made me feel loved. It was crazy we were bombarded with support. “

They said it’s more than just shoes.

“It has a lot to do with school,” said Fields. “We had to wear school uniforms so that’s the only thing you can stand out with was your shoes. That was the only way to express yourself in school. The shoes give people a sense of pride.”

They were learning as they go in the beginning and then they were robbed. After facing so many obstacles, having little to no help at all, surviving the pandemic, and now being robbed, the three found themselves stuck. 

“We had to step it up,” said Robinson.

They were forced to press the reset button and start all over again, but Another Sole Chance came back bigger and stronger. 

“Keep going, don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do,” said Robinson. “Everything is possible. We were only twenty-two when we open these doors.”

Many people say starting a business is a hard task but being Black and young makes it harder. These Black business owners say their best advice: research and network.

“Get an education, get a job, and build your capital,” said Cayette.

“Save your money up for like five to six months at least before you start your business,” said Fields. “So if it doesn’t work out, you have that extra money to fall back on.” 

And to help those kids switching between two pairs of shoes, Another Sole Chance is there.

“They need some extra money they need quick cash, they need money fast, probably some gas money, we will buy their shoes for a good price and give them the money,” said Fields. “They can go out there and buy what they need and pay their bills.”