WELCOME TO TEAM PATTA
The two guys in the photo are Edson Sabajo and Guillaume 'Gee' Schmidt, the owners of the company. They met in the nineties through their mutual love for music, and Hip-Hop in particular. Being both of Surinamese descent, Patta is the word for Shoe in the Surinamese language, Sranan Tongo (fun fact: in Suriname, the word 'Pata' is actually spelt with one 'T', to ensure the proper pronunciation though, they opted for the double 'T'). Due to the large population of Surinamese people in the Netherlands, the expression blended into the youth's vocabulary and became part of their slang. In 2004 they opened the doors to the Patta store on the first floor of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 142. At the time, most brands had split their catalogues by continent. This meant that America and Asia had different product lines than Europe did. Therefore, if you were to open a footwear store in a town like Amsterdam, you would have the same products as your competitors on the high traffic shopping street.
They didn't want that, they wanted to sell shoes that nobody had. The plan was simple: travel to other continents, hunt for hidden gems, buy in bulk and bring them back to the Netherlands. So they booked flights to New York, stayed with friends and mapped out which stores and streets they wanted to check. They would go to places like Fulton Street in Brooklyn, Jamaica Ave in Queens, or Fordham Road in the Bronx and go in, haggle, agree on a price, box it up and move on to the next shop. Not knowing anything about shipping accounts, the team would stuff shoeboxes into giant duffel bags and walk it through customs themselves. Or they used the US Postal Service and risked losing a box or two.