Just like Virgin founder Richard Branson, renaissance man Come Chantrel has used his marketing and fashion sense to make a major impact in the States. And now, with Just For Kicks, his recently released ode to the sneaker industry and its fans, the 38-year-old Parisian has found his biggest outlet yet.

As a teen in Paris' sprouting hip-hop scene, Chantrel was torn between his passion for urban culture and pursuing an education. Tired of studying law at the University of Paris IX, Chantrel hopped a flight to New York City and partnered with one of hip-hop's founding icons, Russell Simmons. "He was friends with my girlfriend,” admits the smooth, blue-eyed Frenchman. "We had a lot of common friends in Paris.” Chantrel interned at Def Jam and later worked at Steve Rifkind's Loud Records, ultimately becoming a partner and Vice President of Marketing at Rifkind's SRC. It was during his tenure with Rifkind that Chantrel realized just how much potential synergy there was between rap stars and corporate America. "I was doing marketing for groups, and I realized that a lot of the groups loved fashion and brands,” he says. "The brands didn't know how to get to the [consumer], but the record labels did.”

Continue reading this story in the October ‘06 issue of KING (#36)