by Dorothy Puch Lillig

Carlos De Los Santos Jr. has always had a passion for sneakers and has been running the go-to spot for the hottest styles in Midtown. Now he wants to share that passion with those living and working where he grew up and now lives — the Spring Branch District.

“Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s playing basketball, I was huge fan of Michael Jordan and his sneakers,” De Los Santos said. “It was a long-time goal for me to have my own business, so it felt natural to open up a sneaker boutique.”

In April 2011, he did just that, opening Eight One, now located in Houston’s Midtown. On Sept. 1, De Los Santos and his wife, Amanda, will open their second store at 7670 Katy Freeway, Suite 40, Houston 77024, located at Spring Branch’s Marq’E Center.

“We will offer roughly the same assortment at both locations,” De Los Santos remarked. “However, each store may stock items geared towards the customer base specific to the location.”

Eight One is a boutique for young, style-driven men and women who are looking for items they wouldn’t typically find in a big box store or mall. They offer a wide selection of fashion-forward men’s and women’s footwear, clothing, backpacks and accessories.

“In 2011, when we first opened, there weren’t many sneaker boutiques in Houston, so we wanted to fill a void and allow Houstonians another avenue,” De Los Santos said. In their years in the business, he said they have learned trends come and go and can change overnight.

Both Carlos and Amanda De Los Santos grew up in Spring Branch in the early ‘80s and early 2000s. Carlos was born in 1981, which is why the store is named Eight One.

“We went to Spring Branch schools from elementary through high school and currently live in Spring Branch. We have always loved the small town feel and the cultural diversity that Spring Branch offers,” De Los Santos reminisced. “We enjoy the sense of community among those who live and work in Spring Branch, so it made sense for us to open a second store in a place we know so well and love.”

De Los Santos said he feels it’s the perfect time to open a new business in the Spring Branch District.

“We want to embrace the forward movement that is taking place in our community, and we wanted to be a part of the growth that is taking place.”

Grand Opening Details: Eight One Marq’E will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, with a DJ in store from 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., as well as complimentary beer for customers age 21 and over.