Jul 22, 20197 min read

This ‘Sneaker Geek’ Turned His Passion into a Business.

Fredrik Thambert headshot

by Fredrik Thambert

Vedad Fisic came to Sweden with empty pockets and an open mind. Four years later he has turned his love for sneakers into an exclusive store. What’s the secret behind this journey? "You have to be passionate about something and set your mind to it," he says.

The store measures only a few square meters, but it’s packed with exclusive shoes and shirts from brands like Supreme, A Bathing Ape, Off-White and Yeezy. Behind the counter sits Vedad Fisic, the sneaker geek behind Hypestein, which – he claims – is Sweden’s first online vendor that’s purely focused on selling super-hyped sneakers and streetwear. He started selling shoes in 2017 and a couple of months ago he managed to open up his first brick-and-mortar store in Stockholm.

“I wanted to have a physical space where Hypestein could live. The first step was to open a pop-up shop, which later turned into a permanent one,” Vedad Fisic explains.

He moved from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Sweden in 2015 to live with his wife Aida, who is Swedish. In the beginning, Vedad had no plans for how to make a living in his new country.

“I studied Swedish and started to work at a hotel,” he says, “but I wanted to do something that I felt passionate about.”

Vedad’s interest in sneakers started when he was playing basketball as a teenager. He was especially drawn to Nike Jordans and other basketball shoes that were worn by his heroes on the pitch.

“But the hype thing started for me in 2016 when a friend bought a pair of Adidas NMDs. I liked them a lot, but couldn’t find them anywhere because they were sold out. I like challenges, so I started to research how to get hold of new models. I found out that I could buy limited edition shoes and resell them at twice the original price.”

The first limited-edition sneakers he bought were two pairs of NMDs; one black, and one white. The profit he made from one pair covered the cost of the others.

“In the beginning, I just did it to finance shoes for me and my wife. But it quickly evolved into a business idea. What if I could make a living out of buying and selling exclusive sneakers to an audience that understands and appreciates their value?”

When Vedad Fisic talks about the sneaker-loving community he describes it as a family. His goal is to make Hypestein a natural part of it, and a hub where people with this shared interest can meet and hang out.

“People shouldn’t feel like they have to buy something. They can just come by the store and have a chat about new models coming out, or anything else for that matter. The same thing goes online, where we offer a personal service and respond to all questions. Real recognize real, so it has to be genuine,” he says.

When Vedad opened his store in May 2019 the queue extended through the Skrapan mall where it’s located. Sneaker nerds like himself lined up to see what he had to offer and to get the chance to buy a pair of rare sneakers. The interest caught him by surprise – in a positive way – but also created pressure to find more products to sell.

“I got a bit stressed because it’s quite a painstaking process to find the right products that fit my concept. It’s hugely important that we stay true to our concept and don’t sell just sell random sneakers that you can find anywhere,” he explains.

On the shelves are both vintage rarities and new limited releases.

“Our mission is to offer new unique models the same day that they’re released. We have people who buy them and sell them to us. We might not even sell them with a profit – the most important thing is that we can offer them to our customers.”

How do you know which sneakers to buy?

“I’ve been in the business long enough to know which models are sought-after. We also keep track of upcoming releases. But sometimes you get very surprised by which shoes are sky-rocketing in price and which aren’t. It’s a bit like trading shares, which adds to the fun. Sometimes the price doubles overnight. Other times you need to hold on to the shoes for a while until they go up in price. We keep track of how the prices are changing and adapt ours to the market.”

What’s the deal with these limited edition sneakers?

“First of all, it’s the hype around them. Then, it’s all about supply and demand. A pair of shoes can cost as much as a holiday or even a car if they’re highly sought-after.”

The company is basically a one-man army, with some help from Vedad’s wife who works another full-time job. He mans his shop every day of the week, running the webshop at the same time and finding new products to sell. He even finds time to make same-day deliveries to customers in the Stockholm area who have bought something from him online.

“I am working more than 300 hours a month to build Hypestien into something bigger and better. But it doesn’t feel like a job, because it’s my passion. Before I go to bed I think about shoes and it’s the first thing I think about when I wake up.”

Could you do this kind of thing without the passion?

“I don’t think so. You would probably crash because of the stress and the amount of work you have to put in. But I think it’s worth it. If you’re passionate about something you should go for it. It’s the only way to combine both desire and will,” says Vedad.

The ultimate goal for him is to build Hypestein into a global brand that attracts streetwear fanatics from all over the world.

“I have invested everything into this, so I don’t feel any boundaries for how far I can take it.”

That includes opening more, bigger stores, as well as growing the online business. Vedad has built his webshop on Shopify’s platform and integrated Klarna in the check-out.

“In Sweden, up to 40 percent of all the purchases in my web shop are made with Klarna’s Pay later service, so Klarna is a very important partner to help me achieve my goals.”

Where does your motivation come from?

“I’m a hyperactive person. I go to the gym 5-6 times per week, spend time with my wife and work hard to make Hypestein fly. I surround myself with positivity and always try to be the best person I can be. That wasn’t so easy in Bosnia after the war, but it made me appreciate life and all the opportunities here in Sweden. I just try to catch them and make the most out of them.”

Vedad Fisic’s advice to other people with entrepreneurial dreams like himself is to follow their hearts and go for it.

“You have to be passionate about something and set your mind to it. It can be a war sometimes inside yourself with negative emotions, but you must be strong and push them away. It’s all about gaining positive energy from people around you and learning new things. Working with Hypestein gives me a child-like happiness, and that’s an amazing feeling!”