Anne-Sophie Flury is known as the creator and founder of Shu Gum™ and as the famous neuroscientist girlfriend of Capital FMs Roman Kemp. She was born in Switzerland, lived in Hong Kong and contributed to studies to do with Parkinson’s disease and neuroscience for AI. Now a budding entrepreneur, she speaks to The Edit Man London.
We all know the likes of Crep Protect but for those that don’t know Shu Gum™, what can you tell us about your product and why is it different?
Shu Gum™ is an odour and cleaning treatment for the inside of your shoes. It has a jelly-like consistency that picks up and encapsulates loose dirt and dust particles when you press it into the shoe. During the pressing action it also reacts to kill any bacteria living inside your shoes. So unlike any sprays or sneaker pills that mask odour, Shu Gum actually eliminates the source of the smell. Results are apparent in seconds while lasting long-term.
We tested it on athletes who use the same trainers for practice several times a week. The most significant finding of that study was not just the odour and bacteria reduction but the athletes that used Shu Gum before practice actually felt they performed better. Guess that has to do with the feeling of stepping into a fresh sneaker.
There are so many other benefits to using Shu Gum - I’ve put a lot of effort into making sure it's environmentally friendly - for example, the gum and the packaging itself is compostable.
What inspired you to branch out on your own to build this business?
Shu Gum is based on a product that my dad made years ago. He’s in the toy industry - he basically invented slime. I think he once mixed an anti fungal with Slimy™ and cleaned the inside of my brothers shoes with it when he got athletes foot. The thing with bacterial and fungal infections is that no matter how well you treat the infection, if spores remain within the shoes it will keep coming back. I don’t think many people think to clean the inside of their shoes, but if your feet spend a lot of time in there with limited light and air it's so important to do it.
Why the streetwear market? What interests you so much about this space?
I had been interested in fashion and art for as long as I can remember. But I knew that it would never amount to anything, applying for a degree in fashion was pretty much out of the question. I was always encouraged to pursue an academic career and ended up studying neuroscience. I stood out from the other kids and perhaps wasn’t always taken as seriously because I would show up in the laboratory or at the hospital wearing colourful, quirky outfits and sneakers. I had two very different friend groups, academic ones and the more artsy ones… singers, dancers, artists, designers. In my academic circle, I stood out as the artsy one and in my artsy circle I was very much the geeky one. I was always so aware of being different and knew I would feel comfortable in a profession that would incorporate both aspects of my personality. With Shu Gum I was able to utilise my love for streetwear and sneaker culture to the creative direction of the brand. On the other hand I spent equal parts of my time in the laboratory and studying research papers on biochemistry to finalise the formulation. I’ve found a place that allows me to utilise and explore my knowledge in science and fashion.
You wear a lot of the brands we sell – Off-White, Supreme, Yeezy and so on. Do you have any go-to brands and why them?
At the moment I would have to say Yeezy - I've been living in sweatpants and T-shirts throughout quarantine. All the Yeezy pieces have that cool effortless look which makes me feel surprisingly put together and fashionable even if I've been wearing them for several days.
If you were locked out of your house for a day, which three items from our site would you want to be wearing?
Had you asked me before quarantine I’d probably have a very different selection… comfort, human rights and politics takes priority these days.
On my feet the Jordan 1 Retro High Travis Scott. My boyfriend just got them and I’m a little jealous so I’d be wearing those for sure. On top I would have to choose the Supreme Obama Anorak, as a statement to the global current events. I miss Obama a lot right now. I think many of us do. Also an anorak would prepare me for Londons bipolar weather conditions.
I’d most likely be wearing some trackies (again). This time I'd go for the Nike x Cactus Plant Flea Market ones, switching it up a bit from the Calabasas.
You have a famous boyfriend in Roman Kemp. Does he enjoy streetwear as much as you do and do you have any matching items?
Roman and I actually bonded over sneakers. Our relationship began after he stumbled across my instagram as he was looking for a specific pair of trainers that I happened to have had.
Early in our relationship we used to wear a lot of matching outfits and have complimenting items. For example, I have a bright orange Off-White belt and he has a matching keychain that he would let hang out of his pocket. We have several of the same trainers, caps and other matching accessories. We sometimes went out with matching Off-White face masks, (really frustrating that we can’t find them now that Corona virus is making them a mandatory accessory). The outfit matching died down a little after our first year together. Since I started working on Shu Gum, I have spent a lot less on new clothes. My priority has been the product and taking better care of my clothes and sneakers.
We saw on your Instagram that you met Caitlyn Jenner. Can you tell us a little bit about her? What is she like?
Caitlyn Jenner is amazing. She’s definitely one of the most interesting people I have ever met. She’s had so many rare and crazy moments in her life - an Olympic champion, a father to some of the most successful people of our generation. She’s been in so many high profile situations and knows A LOT of things about A LOT of people. You can’t bullshit her, she knows exactly how life works and calls things out as they are. She is really comfortable being herself - scrolling through her iPhone camera roll in front of us, showing is pictures of her cars, planes, dogs and intimate family life. I remember sitting by the pool with her and Sophia, drinking frozen margaritas and talking about the implications of policy changes and new import taxes for Chinese trade. If she lived in London, she’s someone I would want to have around on a regular basis.
Back to Shu Gum, you’ll be partnering with us at The Edit Man London. Why did you choose to partner with us here?
I feel as though our two companies have the same ethos and target and overlapping demographic - somewhere between hype beast and GQ. Those shopping on The Edit Man London are looking for something fun, new, stylish and innovative. They care for how they look and one might imagine that overlaps to caring for their favourite pieces. I can’t imagine someone spending a large amount of money for some wicked shoes and being ok with them getting smelly. Caring for your sneakers is part of a sneaker heads ritual.
Lastly, what can we expect to see from Shu Gum next. Will there be a wider product range for us to play with?
Yes, we’re making a medical grade Shu Gum, specifically to combat athletes foot and fungal nails. The regulations on biocides and active ingredients is constantly changing and also takes up to a year to get certification. By that time it could be banned again. The process is very tedious and expensive and the chemicals changes the composition of the Shu Gum, so we have to adjust the formulation and keep testing it until it works. This will be a really great product for anyone prone to foot problems, such as diabetics and professional athletes.