Sneaker-cleaning startup tries new sorts of shoes on for size

Sudsy Soles Rashad Sanders scaled

Rashad Sanders recently revamped his startup DripFixx, which offers sneaker refurbishment services, to expand its services to include care and repair of leather goods. (BizSense file)

DripFixx isn’t just for the sneakerheads anymore.

The local startup, which launched last year as Sudsy Shoes offering sneaker-cleaning services, is expanding into refurbishing dress shoes, boots and handbags.

The company  officially unveiled the new iteration on its shoe cleaning and repair service model with a website relaunch last week. Gone is its previous online marketplace that helped connect people with sneakers in need of a refresh with vendors who could take on the work.

While still acting a middleman, the company now facilitates work on various products that’s done by a short-list of vendors. Founder Rashad Sanders said the previous model resulted in too much inconsistency.

“One reason we went away from that model a bit is that sneaker cleaner A might do it one way, and sneaker cleaner B might do it another, and it was hard to create that standardization we were looking for,” he said.

Under the new model, “we’re working with a main local vendor but we have a network of people who have specialties,” he said.

In addition to restoration services for sneakers, like resoling and cleanings, DripFixx offers services for women’s shoes, boot repair, dress shoe refurbishment and luxury handbag repair and cleaning, according to its website.

The company also recently rolled out local drop-off service at five locations around town, where items in need of refurbishment are dropped off to be serviced and later picked up. Sanders said the implementation of that program came in response to customers who wanted a more localized approach. Previously, users of the service would ship their shoes to vendors.

“We want to create a network of drop-off locations around the city where people can drop off their leather goods,” Sanders said.

The company has agreements with local businesses Rotate RVA, Classic Studios, Dame’s and Charged Up to act as drop-off points, as well as its office at the Michael Wassmer Innovation Center in Shockoe Bottom.

Customers select their drop-off location and choose and pay for the services desired on the DripFixx website. A basic sneaker cleaning is $30 per pair, while a “deep” sneaker cleaning runs $70 a pair. The company also offers shoe shining for up to three pairs for $70, among other services.

DripFixx pays a flat, per-item rate to the businesses to accept items on its behalf.

A North Carolina native, Sanders launched the original iteration of the concept under the name Sudsy Shoes in early 2022. Last year the company won $50,000 to improve its digital presence in an Activation Capital startup development program.

Looking forward, Sanders said that as DripFixx fine tunes its model, the company plans to expand with drop-off points in markets outside Richmond.

“We want to build a more sustainable business,” he said.

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