Q&A With Co-Owners of J. Cole Shoes

J. Cole Shoes is a local fashion boutique that has been offering the latest styles to the women of Tulsa since 2007. Co-owners Nicole VanEngen and Jennifer Combs are the boss lady duo behind the business and we were lucky enough to get the chance to ask them all of our questions!

Tell us about how and when J. Cole was started.

Serving the Tulsa area since March, 2007, J.Cole Shoes was created to provide fashion-forward, high quality shoes, clothing, and accessories in a fun and customer focused environment. Leveraging our experience working as buyers for one of the largest soft retailers in the country, we have created a fun and highly trained sales team to compliment the carefully curated product mix that provides the best customer experience in a low pressure, relaxed environment.

To complement our Tulsa store, J.Cole expanded to Stillwater in the summer of 2015 – steps away from the Oklahoma State University campus to provide a greater mix of clothing and accessories while still providing the best shoe selection in the Stillwater area.

In addition to the changing times, we have a website that is constantly changing and evolving.

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“Life is short, buy the shoes!”

What is the best part of your job?

The people. We have met the best people from owning J.Cole. We have had brilliant and amazing employees throughout the years. We would not be what we are today without these people and our awesome customers who share our dream of supporting local!

What’s the biggest challenge in your job?

We have been open almost 14 years and have certainly tried to evolve over the years. Change is never comfortable but it is a must in this business. We had one goal when we opened and it was to be able to provide the best shoes in Tulsa with a fun atmosphere while giving the best customer service. We also have always wanted a daughter, mom and grandmother to all be able to walk out with something they are excited about! It’s important to support local businesses, and put more of our money back into our community where we live and our kids go to school. When people come to ask for donations for different charities they always think about the local businesses that pour heart and soul back into the community. We provide part-time employment for the community. We try to support other local businesses! Most locally owned businesses provide better customer service, we don’t sleep when we have an unhappy customer. We want to make each and every customer that walks through the door have an exceptional experience and want to come back to shop.

What’s your favorite look right now?

Side parts and skinny jeans, haha! Jokes aside, I would say chunky platform sandals paired with high waisted straight leg denim and a bright colored top.

You both have small children as well as owning a business. What is your best advice for working parents?

Surround yourself with a hardworking team and friends. It takes a village to raise kids! We need all the help we can get!

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

Spending time with friends and family. We love going to Carlton Landing for a long weekend. Just being outside makes us happy!

What is your favorite thing about Tulsa?

Riverside. I feel like there is so much potential up and down Riverside Drive. Hopefully, we are around to see it take place.

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What is your favorite spot in Tulsa?

Downtown and Pearl District. We love American Solera.

What do you not leave home without?

Topo Chico and a protein bar.

What words do you live by?

Life is short, buy the shoes!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

In the year 2020 we learned a lot, as I am sure many business owners did. We tried to evolve and think differently with what we bought and how we bought. With so many people working from home the athleisure and lounge-wear category was huge. Slippers and sneakers were everyone’s go-to shoes. We ended up with a pretty good fourth quarter and had we not been shut down for 5 weeks, would have been up for the year.

We were here everyday working on getting the new product online, filling orders and occasional customers that would call or just stop by and need some retail therapy. Some of our long standing J.Cole customers went above and beyond to ensure our continued success during the pandemic, we can’t thank them enough for all the support. Thank you Oklahoma! We hope to be around 14 more!