From Gaines Street to glory: A business owner’s journey to success

With humble beginnings as a tiny storefront on Gaines Street, to a chance to be one of the only independent businesses located in the Governor’s Square Mall, the road to success for Pink Shoe Bag hasn’t been an easy journey.

 Anthony Castro, owner of this women’s shoe store, first opened the store during July of 2015, with only hope and faith by his side. But his journey began even earlier than that.

Growing up impoverished in Miami is something that Castro will always remember to keep him motivated. “My mom used to be a teacher’s aide, and my dad’s a landscaper. My mom made $14,000 a year and my dad made $16,000 a year — that’s the household I’m coming from,” Castro said.

He recalls that after his parents lost their house to foreclosure while he was in middle school, living in hotels and trailer parks with his four older brothers became the new normal. Although the family recovered while he was attending Miami Northwestern High School, he will never forget those challenges.

A key moment in Castro’s life that changed his career forever is an interaction he had with a customer while he worked at a Nordstrom store in his hometown.

“One of the customers at Nordstrom asked me if I wanted to work there for the rest of my life,” Castro said. “I told her that I wanted to do my own business one day, and that I wanted to launch my own sneaker store.

“The advice she gave me was that if I wanted to make a million-dollar business, cater to men. But if I wanted to make a billion-dollar business, cater to women.”

Castro went on to explain how the woman introduced him to the term “disposable income,” and how both women and men used it.

“She gave me a perspective that opened my eyes, and I quit Nordstrom after that.”

The 30-year-old said that he decided to move to Tallahassee for one reason: to open Pink Shoe Bag. “I quit my job, I cashed out my 401k with them, I sold my car, I sold my sneaker collection, I sold all of my personal belongings to do this business,” Castro said.

 With the gamble he took for his business, Castro couldn’t let failure be an option.

One of the most challenging obstacles Castro faced was trying to get business at a steady rate during his first few months in Tallahassee, on Gaines Street.

“There were days when nobody walked into the store, not one person,” he said.

After a few weeks of doing hardcore advertising around the capital city, from passing out flyers to opening a one-stop-shop on the campus of Florida A&M during “Set Friday,” business slowly came rolling in with college students becoming the heartbeat of his business.

With the store now located in Governor’s Square Mall, and business growing faster than ever, Castro noted that he’s nothing less than thankful for making it this far. Customers have also taken into account his hard work and dedication.

“I remember when Pink Shoe Bag first opened on Gaines Street. Now, I’m coming home from college to visit, and this store is in the mall. It’s come a long way,” Kierra Mathis, Tallahassee native, said.

And FAMU students continue to be an important part of Castro’s customer base.

“Pink Shoe Bag always has cute shoes. And there’s always something new there, every time I come,” first year pharmacy student Courtney Fitz said.

With more work to do and many goals to meet, Castro looks forward to bringing new aspects to his business. He hope to branch out to other cities with his growing brand.