Anthea (Still) Knows Best

TWoU popped by Anthea Poulos' place to speak sneakers, culture and work

Photographs by Karl Rogers

Growing up with older brothers, Anthea Poulos' formed her identity absorbing everything she could from them and the rap videos they'd dub onto VHS tapes.

Internet access wasn't a thing and Anthea's ticket to culture came from magazines like The Face and Dazed & Confused, as well as people who'd  bring back the right brands for her from their travels overseas.

Anthea Poulos

Wanting to discover more about the people she saw in the videos she watched and the magazines she read, Anthea soon started making connections in what they did and the people she admired on the street. This soon became Anthea's life, and she studied Sociology in an attempt to formalise her passion.

An interest in youth focused research led to an internship at Instant Grass where she later worked as a researcher, strategist and trend analyst. Then an opportunity to join two friends in a startup – the authority in local cool-hunting and insight, small brand consultancy The Bread – means that today Anthea earns her crust by offering strategy, from first concept to final output, for brands such as Ray-Ban, Vice and Vans.

Anthea Poulos

But wait, that's not all, because the Anatomy sneaker store in Braam, the House of Vans 50th birthday celebrations and Little Dragon's SA gigs... all Anthea, with a lot of help from her friends. Despite these highlights it's being able to pay her staff's salaries every month that makes her most proud of what she's accomplished.

And when this boss puts her feet up after a job well done you better believe its in a pair of fresh kicks. Sneakers have been Anthea's footwear of choice since a time when they weren't really a thing women wore, and a lot more difficult to find. With men running the brands, putting on the events, being featured in the campaigns and women typically only invited to the table to be sexualised or used as props, Anthea is able to change that. Not only is she embedded in the culture, participating from an authentic place with an undisputed love of sneakers, her professional role means that she's in a position to influence the brands and consumers from within. 

Anthea Poulos

"I try to bring the consumer to the fore wherever possible. If we're looking for a venue for a brand event for example I'll always spend some time thinking about who is coming, where they have to get there from, how will this be affected by transport and costs involved... So it sounds like practical stuff, and it is, but it's also about consistently understanding the consumer, who and what you're doing it for. One thing I hate is these brand events that always have the same people who get everything for free and the whole conversation it super boring. The one thing I hope I can influence in a real way is having young inspiring and real people be involved in stuff. The people that really shape culture from the ground up."

Anthea Poulos

The place Anthea likes to relax and recharge after all the events and late nights at the office is home. Having moved into this space since first moving back to Johannesburg from Cape Town six years ago, Anthea loves it here and figures that if she's going to spend time here she should make it as comfortable as possible. There's no real science to this, but more a gut feel and organic process of everything finding its right place. 

"There was honestly no long term thinking or planning, I had some furniture when I moved back and acquired some random stuff on the way, I'm the kind of person who buys stuff when I see it. I love art and I spend a fair amount of money investing in that, but I also don't take it too seriously. In a way I haven't decorated anything, it's more like where things land when I get home from travelling or something. I'm a kid at heart, there's a lot of nonsense and an excess of Hello Kitty & Miffy paraphernalia."

Anthea Poulos

"I wear black almost all the time because for practicality reasons it makes sense to me. Then you come into my house and it looks like a unicorn vomited. I guess this is the other side of my personality. So there's serious Anthea and then there's the kid who can now afford all the random stuff she's always wanted. As I said, I have a lot of art, lots of trinkets, lots of things that I pick up on my travels."

Anthea Poulos

And while she doesn't dedicate any room in her home to her sneakers or put them on display in a custom made cabinet, they peek out from all corners of her home. Adamant that kicks are for wearing, not showing off, she's not about to dedicate a room to her collection, or even a special cabinet, and instead her next home project is to get her dining room into shape, instead of using it as storage space. And as long as there's decent wifi, Netflix, a comfy bed, a coffee plunger and a playlist of her favourite 90s hiphop tunes then Anthea is pretty much at home, towering sneaker boxes or not. And who are we to argue, after all, Anthea knows best. 

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