As a small, independent brand, almost all our business is based on personal relationships. As true fans of sneaker culture, we are deeply invested in this retail game. We have strong connections to everyone we work with, and to introduce the people behind the tight circle of global Patta stockists, we decided to include retail partners in our Get Familiar series. This time we're sitting down with Erik, Founder of Stress, read down below what the Oslo based retailer had to say.

How did Stress start out?
We’ve been doing this since ’94, before that I was working in a couple of other retail stores while at the same time being heavily invested in rap and graffiti. I was collecting books and everything I could get that was part of that specific culture. With Stress I wanted to offer a product to the Norwegian consumer that they couldn’t get anywhere else here, almost coming from that same collector mindset.

The store started off pretty slow, we were located in Norway’s second largest city, Bergen back then. My best friend was studying there and I wanted to get a little break from Oslo, so I moved there. It was lowkey in a back-alley, we got some brands and it kind of escalated from there

What kind of music were you listening to at that time, what inspired you?
A lot of rap music, especially from the 90's, like Nas and Biggie, at this time we were also selling vinyl at the store along with mags like The Source and XXL.

What brands did you start out with?
We actually started out with some secondhand clothing, the first actual brand we got was Stussy, which tied in really nicely with everything that we were interested in. Back then Nike was almost entirely focused on sports so they didn’t really understand why we wanted to open an account. After going back and forth for over a year we finally got an account, we were actually the first non-sporting goods store to carry Nike in Norway.

Were there a lot of other people interested in the same stuff you mentioned as you and your friends?
Back in Oslo there was a small community, some writers, some people into graffiti. When we went to Bergen we were basically the only ones.

At what moment in time did you start noticing more and more people getting more into it?
After a couple of years, you saw some more stores popping up here and there focusing on specific parts of the culture.

Do you have a partner or did you start off on your own?
I started this with my best friend, but I knew from day 1 that he wanted to become a Doctor, so at one point he pursued his dream. 3 years ago our close friends re-invested in his share of the company and that’s when we decided to really up our digital game, upgrading our digital platform.

I was looking at your brand mix and noticed that it’s really well selected, what’s the thought behind this?
Since we’re small, we can’t have 50 brands like big players do, with the current location we’ve been in for the last years we can do a bit more than we did. We’re still really picky though, it has to be unique and we need to be able to stand behind the brand with 100%

So, you’ve been doing this since ’94, why is the store called Stress95?
The answer is simple, we started out in ’94 but only registered ourselves in ‘95

So, what sets of the vibe in your retail space?
Depends, if I’m in the store you probably would hear a lot of Nas and Biggie but it depends on who’s working. Aside from the music we really try to create a family-feeling so everyone feels comfortable.

At what point in time did you first notice Patta?
If you’re slightly more interested in the sneaker game than the average person it’s impossible to not see Patta pop up here and there, especially because of the collaborations with Nike and Asics.

What’s the plan for the future?
Our main focus now is to showcase the products we have in our way, showing the world the voice of Oslo.

What’s your consumer like?
There’s a mix, some people might come for the newest popular releases, they want cool shoes. Another person tries to find specific styles that they might not be able to find anywhere else.

If you would have to give one piece of advice for young people trying to set up a brand or open up shop, what would it be?
Find something you believe in and stick with it, believe in yourself.