Meet the Ave
Nestled in the heart of the World Famous Venice Beach, CA, The Ave offers a unique shopping experience to visitors of all ages. We are a concept store that defines creativity, allowing you the opportunity to custom design any article of clothing. We’ve got you covered from head to toe with the softest shirts for men and women, and two types of legendary footwear that defined the cultures of multiple generations: Converse Chuck Taylors and Vans Slip-Ons. Whatever design you want on your shoes, we are happy to print them up for you. We have made this possible by inventing a process utilizing cutting edge technology mixed with our own creative engineering and software development to bring to you what no one has before.
The Ave opened on April 7th, 2010 by Los Angeles native Nick Romero, who brought on the sharpest, brightest people he could find to run a successful business. Together, they've created what Yo! Venice has called 'Their Favorite New Store'. They have also been featured in Rolling Stone, the Wall Street Journal, BET, The AV Club, The 420 Times, AllHipHop.com, and much more. They have been profiled twice by Allie Mac Kay of KTLA news, and were featured on ABC’s wildly popular business-themed reality show Shark Tank. Their custom shoes were seen on the red carpet, when Bryan Cranston wore their Drug Runner shoes to the IFC awards. Recently, MTV dropped by with Macklemore, who designed his very own custom shoes right in the shop! The Ave has worked with artists like Johnny Etc!, Hieroglyphics, Gangstaar, Sid Wilson, Elvira, and various films and television shows in creating a one-of-a-kind shoe.
The Ave has hundreds of styles to choose from in addition to being able to create your own. All items are made in house by The Ave's creative staff while you wait!
What We Do
What differs The Ave from any other regular shoe store is that we give you the ability to get any picture or design created on a pair of Converse All Stars or Vans Slip-Ons... while you wait! Using our patented process, you can work one-on-one with our Graphic Designers to create your very own, one-of-a-kind shoe. The possibilities are virtually endless. It’s simply up to you and your imagination.
Because the equipment we use was actually built for T-shirt printing (we modified this equipment using a patented process) we also print thousands of shirts a month! Our garments vary from regular Tees, V-Necks, Baseball Tees, Tank Tops, Crop tops, Crew Neck Sweaters, and Hoodies. Most of these garments are made locally by American Apparel in downtown LA. You can also bring in your own blank garments if you chose to do so.
The Story of The Ave
The question we get asked most often is “Whose idea was this?” The answer to that question simply starts with a 29-year-old Los Angeles native named Nick Romero. In 2008, Nick took a trip out to Chicago to visit some family. While there, he came across a store that did custom press-on t-shirts with Chicago-esque designs available. Nick thought to himself that LA should have a similar store, but didn’t think it should stop at T-shirts.
A life-long Converse Chuck Taylor fan, Nick armed himself with a printer that could print on various garment types, including canvas. After countless hours of trial and error, the full concept for The Ave was born. Nick found the perfect location for The Ave in Venice Beach, a place where he hung out regularly growing up, living just a mile away in neighboring Santa Monica (the birthplace of his grandmother and father). Nick was able to get a Patent for his device, and soon The Ave became the first and only fully-customizable shoe store.
The Ave officially opened their doors on April 7th, 2010, and in just a few short months already had offers from people all over the world to franchise and grow the business. Nick’s year and a half of research, trial and error with the printing device, business plan-writing, store location scouting, construction and interior design (done by Nick with help from his Uncle Mando and cousin Casey), design creation, and much more, was truly paying off. In the last two years, The Ave has grown into a team of superstars.
The People Behind It All click more for Bio's!
The Owner and Creator of The Ave Venice
Representing: LOS ANGELES!
Other works: The success of Nick's marketing business he opened in 2007 allowed him the opportunity to open The Ave by himself, with no partners or investors
His Grandma: Was conceived in Mexico, but crossed the border while in her mothers stomach and was born in Santa Monica, California in 1927
If you see him at the bar, buy him: Jameson and Ginger Ale
His first baseball game was: May 4th, 1986 to watch the Dodgers play the Cardinals
Where else can you find him: Playing basketball on the world famous Venice Beach courts
The girl who will charm your socks off
Nickname: The Wiley One, son!
Originally from: She's a South Bay 408 playa
Other Works: The Sensi Sweethearts
She once: Rode a bike, took a train, bus AND taxi to get to a concert. What can we say. The girl lives for live music.
Her Hero is: Erykah Badu
Her biggest accomplishment: A year after relocating from the Bay Area to join The Ave, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. After a year of battling and WINNING, she returned to The Ave like a true warrior!
From: Parts Unknown
Other Works: www.trashbagghost.com
Old School Arcade Game He Can Probably School You On: Ms. Pac-Man.
Best Advice: Change your fire alarm batteries when you change your clocks!
Biggest Fear: Wild animals lurking in urban and suburban environments.
Favorite Part About Living in LA: Televised high speed chases!
Sy The Manager Guy
Where are you from: Marin County California, where all the old hippies went to become "legitimate income earning hippies". Granola was born here I'm pretty sure and tree hugging is a graded class beginning in kindergarten.
Favorite band : I listen to all music, narrowing down to a single favorite ? Do we have that kind of time? I could list my top 100 if we do...
Favorite movie: Way too many to list but I love Blazing Saddles and Pulp Fiction , Smokey and The Bandit Hell yeah Burt Reynolds Gator ! And then there are most of the Roger Moore era Bond films that also rule. All Bruce Willis films 5th element , twelve monkeys, Die Hard films!!! The Kill Bill films...Beverly Hills ninja and They call me Bruce those all go together ...right?! I could go on forever I'm a fan of film cheesy to serious...Miami Connection anyone??
Other works (what else do you do): Artist Management for M2P8 Entertainment gotta hustle to survive in LALA-Land
Worst part about living in LA - The "Los Angeles Parking Enforcement MAFIA", this is a real thing I'm nearly certain the person running this office wears a large pinky ring. And maybe you can ask for favors on his or her daughters wedding day. Because you sure as heck cannot do ANYTHING other than pay the ticket no matter what any other time of the year.
Amy aka thekeenone
Your gay uncle Todd's favorite rapper; marketing genius
Representing: Venice, CA by way of Panther Valley, PA
Other works: Excelling in the creation of superior rapping sounds, planning global takeovers via status updates, and hash-tag gang banging. Check her out at thekeenone.com
Her Grandma: Was a bad M'fer from the wrong side of town with thick gold chain and her gators on the ground
If you see her at the bar, buy her: a shot of Jameson, then another, then hold her hair back.
Her first baseball game was: The Scranton Red Barons? What's a baseball?
Where else can you find her: Riding the fastest motorcycle in the world around Venice
Name: Bobby Gobin
Nicknames: SB, Bobbito
Where are you from: I grew up on the border of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but moved to LA in late 2013 after living in Jamaica, Queens since 2008.
Favorite band: Impossible question to answer so I'm going to have to give it to the Wu.
Favorite movie: Baby Boy
Other works (what else do you do): When I'm not hard at work at The Ave, you can either catch me skating around Venice and Inglewood or working on my drum loops.
Fav. part about working at The Ave: It gives me a great excuse to be in Venice every day, by far my favorite part of Los Angeles.
If you see him at the bar, buy him: Gin & Tonic, Dark & Stormy, anything with a & in it.
Fav. part about living in LA: I still haven't gotten used to the fantastic weather here year round... My favorite part of LA has got to be not worrying about constant rain ruining my shoes.
Fastest Shirt and Shoe Slinger in the West
Originates From: Merced, CA.
AKA: Big & Friendly, S'quatch, or any other cheesy "giant" nicknames you can think of (I've heard them all).
First Loves: Music and Film. In my spare time, I'm usually working on some type of project involving one or the other.
Favorite Band and Film: That's impossible to choose! But if I had to narrow it down I'd say ELO and Boogie Nights are definitely in my top five for each category. Oh and I am quite obsessed with 80's and 90's action movies starring cheesy lead actors (Steven Segal, Jean Claud Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren...) but no one kicks more ass than PATRICK SWAYZE, my f***in hero.
Moving to Venice: I moved to Venice because of my love for the ocean but still can't seem to conquer my incredible fear of sharks. One day I WILL be able to swim out to where my feet can't touch!
Best Part About Working at The Ave: I love the small group of amazing people I work with. Everyone is different and creative in their own awesome way and the whole team has made me feel right at home. I am excited and grateful to be a part of such a kick ass team!
Name: Eric Behnke
Nicknames: Banky and Paco
Where are you from: Illinois
Favorite band: Music is great
Favorite movie: Django Unchained
Other works (what else do you do): I am also a writer, musician and a reader.
Fav. part about working at The Ave: The best thing is the social environment, everyone is creative, hip and easy to get along with, which is a necessary combo for a great team.
Craziest thing you've seen in Venice: Venice is a tropical circus everyday. It would be hard to point to one thing over another. I always enjoy seeing Juan on the boardwalk. He is short and probably in his 50's. He will always have several layers of mis-matched clothing, and he hangs random objects around him. Today I saw him with a giant umbrella. At least once a week he will have a doll house strapped to his head. The tourists look with amusement at everything in Venice. But they will probably never understand the performance art of Juan.
Best custom item you've sold: There was a young girl who was fighting cancer and made a couple different pairs of shoes that had pictures of her with and without hair. They say that keeping a positive attitude is important when fighting cancer. I was honored to be a part of something that helped give her joy.
Fav. part about living in LA: ART!!!! EVERYWHERE!!!!! ALL THE TIME
Connoisseur of all things social
Name: Kelsey Rose
Originally from: Raised in Tokyo, Japan but I've been in LA since I was 8
If You Meet Her at a Bar, Buy Her: a shot of vodka and a hard cider
What Else Do You Do: I work as a Plus Size Model in LA/NY signed with IPM Models and I try to spread the word on body positivity!! I also occasionally work as a wardrobe stylist where I get to combine my love for fashion and film
Who I'd Like to Have Dinner With (Dead or Alive): Anne Boleyn, Mae West and Kate Moss. All at the same time.
Favorite Food to Nom on: Oysters! Oysters! Oysters!
Best Part of Working at The Ave: Working alongside many creative souls and meeting a diverse array of people everyday
Clothing Design Guru
Name: Catherine Mullins
Where are you from: Charleston, WV
Favorite band: Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Favorite movie: The Labyrinth
Other works (what else do you do): Graphic design, owner of Rare Tee Clothing, activist, and animal lover.
Fav. part about working at The Ave: The diversity of artists on The Ave team and the freedom to truly be creative. And of course the view! ;)
Craziest thing you've seen in Venice: Where "TreeMan" lived.
Fav. part about living in LA: The vegan food.
Blog Assassin and Ave-vangelist
Originally from: Marion, IN. Birthplace of James Dean and the paper plate.
Other works: Designing user experiences, drive-by shootings with his trusty Nikon. Check out my tumblr
Inherited his love of sports from: his grandfather. If the only sport he could find on TV was seventh grade Catholic school girls basketball, Gramps would be watching it, and screaming at the TV.
The moment of his disillusionment: There are no Scrubbing Bubbles!
His favorite thing about LA: Being able to eat dinner at a fancy joint with locally-grown organic ingredients one night, and danger dogs on the street corner the next.
World's Best Sharpie Artist
Where are you from: Originally from Hayward, Ca in the Bay Area. Moved to Dekalb, Il in High school and have been in various Chicago suburbs ever since.
Favorite band: Bjork in my favorite musician. But I also like Prince, David Bowie, Massive Attack, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and anything that's new this week.
Favorite movie: Goodfellas. I'm half Italian but I have never met my biological dad so I just watch that movie and pretend my dad is Robert Deniro, Joe Pesci or Ray Liotta :)
Other works (what else do you do): I make my living 100% with Sharpie Markers so I'm booked in the style. In the past I have done mosaics, ceramics, paintings, ink and pencil drawings, crayola, you name it.
Fav. part about working at The Ave: Making enough money to turn it right around on shoes (Dammit, but they're dope).
Craziest thing you've seen in Venice: Since I don't live in Venice I'll have to say Nick Romero. Y'all saw Shark Tank? :) What now though!
Best custom item you've sold: The one that made the person who bought it the most happy. Sold work to some actors, and musicians, and athletes. So I guess if I want to be a dick the work I sold them. But I don't.
Fav. part about living in LA: Well... since I live in DeKalb Illinois living in LA only happens in dreams. So I guess my favorite part is that I'm sleeping!?
Supa Shoe Slanger
Where are you from: Paris & NYC
Favorite artists/bands: Too many to name, but off top : Aaron Cohen, J57, Black Milk, Tha Dogg Pound & Cypress Hill.
Favorite movie: Old Boy! ...And pretty much any dope (or corny) dance movie like You Got Served or Step Up(s).
Other works (what else do you do): PR, production and artist management.
Fav. part about working at The Ave: Everything, the team, leaning from them everyday, the location of the store and the customers!
Craziest thing you've seen in Venice: A woman with a huge full on red leprechaun beard...I'm still disturbed just thinking about it... :)
Best custom item you've sold: Anything that a customer creates! It's always a great feeling to see how they come out and how happy the customer is.
Fav. part about living in LA: Being able to feel light hearted even when you're having a real bad day because the weather is so nice!
Jon aka Jonny etc.
Illustrator, designer & probably a 3rd thing
Where he's from: Boston, Massachusetts
Career Highlights: Bryan Cranston wearing the Breaking Bad Chuck Taylors he designed to the IFC Awards.
Favorite Movie: Ghostbusters 2
Paycheck writer, Accountant Extraordinaire, Important Stuff Handler, Number Cruncher and HR Queen
She hails from: Born in Oregon (Go Ducks!). Family now resides in Boston (Go Red Sox!)
She is a die hard fan of: Ice cream and football
We heard you love it out here on the West Side of town. Tell us your 3 favorite things about it: Biking/Jogging along the beach, the Santa Monica Stairs, and the laid back attitude!
Her all time hero is: It's a tie. Ben Franklin and Tom Brady.
Emily, what do you want to tell the world: Work hard, play harder.
- The reason why the name is The Ave is a secret and only five people know.
- The first purchase was a design of marijuana leaves across a women's body, and the $25 from the purchase has been buried in our 20 ft high brick walls, and will never be found.
- We strive for perfection, but sometimes slight mistakes happen, such as a shirt being loaded incorrectly, or printing on the wrong size. We have a rule. Mess up a shirt and you must do 10 push ups. The owner, Nick Romero, has done the most push ups out of anyone.
- We made the custom Scott La Rock shirt that KRS-One wore on stage during his 2010 Rock the Bells performance, and presented DJ Premier from Gang Starr with the first ever Gang Starr Converse, offered exclusively at The Ave.
- Our mascot is a man named Ralph, who requested that we print a t-shirt with his California identification card on it. Ralph, aka Ralphie, is also featured in our promotional video.
- The t-shirts that were hung in our store were hung by a former professional basketball player who is 6'11" and will remain unnamed. We needed his help because we didn't have the ladder one day.
- The funniest custom shoes shoe yet to date were shoes with cheeseburgers on it. Yes, CHEESEBURGERS. Someone brought in a picture of their favorite cheeseburgers and we made a pair of shoes for them.
- The Ave is located at once was one half of Andy Nevil's Tattoo Asylum.
- We unknowingly made some shoes for Stephanie Pratt from "The Hills", then every major news source wrote about it... including the Wall Street Journal and we never got credit for it.
- The record for most shirts in one order is 1,800
- We made a couple of custom shirts for Zac Efron, who came back a couple weeks later to let us know how many compliments he had gotten when he wore it.
- Wiz Khalifa walked by our store while his album "Deal or No Deal" was playing. He was doing a photo shoot in Venice. We made him some kicks.
- We were featured on ABC's Shark Tank, where were were enthusiastically turned down. Since then, people from all over the country have stopped in to get their own custom kicks and tell us how wrong the judges were!