During my stay in Toronto last month, I had the pleasure of linking up with a fellow sole sista who I met through the gram (short for Instagram if you live under a rock). Her name is Kiah (pronounced ky-yuh) and she’s a young sneakerhead in the 6ix and is one of the three founders of the sneaker blog She.Lace. The blog was founded by Jamila Husbands, Travis Pereira and herself with the intent to feature and empower women through sneaker culture and art. I remember scrolling through my Instagram timeline on the way to work and I came across Canadian sneaker blog The Brag Affair and they had showcased She.Lace in their story. I became ecstatic by the name and had to check them out. I clicked the username at the top left hand side of the story to see beautiful photos of empowered young women in their favourite sneakers. From Nike Air Force 1 Flyknits to the Air Jordan Retro 5 “Pro Stars.” With each photo, a story followed. I spent a few hours reading a variety of posts and became enamoured by not only the quality of their content, but their ability to highlight parts of Toronto into each shoot. Whether it’s the Underpass Park, Puente de Luz, or Honest Ed’s, She.Lace is able to capture each female in their most natural element while repping their city. By the time I finished reading Joyita’s segment in front of Honest Ed’s in her red Stan Smith’s, I had to make it a mission to collaborate with She.Lace. I hit em with a DM and waited anxiously for a response and to my surprise, I got a response! From there on I proceed to tell them about my #ShesGotSoleXO campaign and that we should collaborate during my one week stay in the 6ix. The energy was reciprocated for Kiah also had plans to feature your girl on their blog too (click here to check out my segment on their blog). I could already tell that this was going to be a fire collab!
Upon meeting Kiah at the infamous Graffiti Alley in the 6ix, her energy was both sassy and calm. She loved saying “girl” at the beginning and end of each sentence and the fact that she wore purple that day (my favourite color), I knew it was a match made in heaven. On her feet were a pair of Eggplant Foamposite Ones that matched the plaid shirt wrapped around her black shirt dress. Growing up, I learned very quickly that in order for an outfit to be “fresh,” the sneakers have to match a part of your outfit. The Nike Foamposites made their debut in 1997 and quickly gained popularity due to its futuristic look. Word has it that the beetle (the insect) inspired the original design for the sneaker. What makes the Foamposite different from a majority of sneaker designs that you see today is that the sneaker doesn’t require as much leather and stitching. 20 years later, the Foamposite is still worn on the feets of sneaker lovers worldwide and gained even more notoriety when streetwear brand Supreme released the Supreme x Nike Foamposites back in April of 2014. The hype was so real that Supreme was forced to cancel the sneakers release due to the chaotic hype it caused at its New York store (hypebeasts, smh).
While working with Kiah, I was reminded that a woman’s femininity should never be devalued and excluded, especially in the sneaker community. We both came to the agreement that sneaker brands need to provide women with the same colorway options as men for both Kiah and I are tired of having to revert to mens and kids sizes. Kiah refers to this experience as a “sneaker struggle.” During my stay in the 6ix, I noticed that there was more appreciation for the culture thanks to stores like Adidas, Livestock, Capsule, Adrift and the recent grand opening of the Air Jordan store on Yonge Street. Throughout the article, Kiah said something that resonated with me dearly , she said “When you don’t see yourself reflected, you don’t exist.” That quote alone served as a reminder as to why I created #ShesGotSoleXO in the first place, to give women a platform to see themselves in a brighter light and to let their souls shine through their soles. Don’t let your ears hear what your eyes didn’t see and don’t let your mouth say what your heart doesn’t feel. After I lace up my Air Max 95’s, I remember to always look in the mirror and remind myself to always put my best foot forward for when I walk out the door. And I know sole sistas like Kiah can relate. Thank you Kiah for the reminder and thanks to you, I will continue to style my life, one lace at a time. Enjoy Kiah’s Q&A and be sure to give She.Lace a follow on on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for upcoming sneaker segments from the 6ix. Thank you Kiah for being part of this movement and I cannot wait to see how you style your life in terms of your future endeavors.
How did you get into sneakers?
For me, sneakers have always been a conduit for women’s empowerment even if I didn’t know it at first. I remember my first pair of memorable sneakers (that I adored) was in Grade 5. It was a fresh pair of K-swiss’ that had a white base with five baby blue stripes on each side. When I wore them to school, I felt like a badass. I just felt like I could overcome anything. It was, in a way, my very own superpower. Growing up, I’ve always been a reserved person. So, wearing sneakers was what “Sasha” is to Beyoncé. It allowed me to have an alter ego…better yet it allowed me to have a personna that constantly had the mindset of “Boy Bye!” And, in hindsight, it was the very beginning of me shedding this layer of being coy and shy and embracing my inner fierceness.
Favourite sneaker memory?
I don’t have one in particular – but, the joy that I get every time I open up a fresh box of sneakers… it’s pretty satisfying! It’s like the best experience of “Groundhog Day”. My favourite memory of sneakers reemerges every time I stack a new box in my collection. Lately that’s been pretty often 😉
You are one of the three founders of the sneaker blog she.lace aimed at empowering women in sneakers. What is She.Lace and what inspired it?
When you don’t see yourself reflected, you don’t exist. And, so when this is the case you have to go out and create it. ‘It’ being the missing piece of the puzzle. And, that’s how she.lace was born. We felt, in the sneaker community, women weren’t getting as much love. And so, with our blog we aim to fill that void. We’re showcasing dope women in their sneakers and how they’re being empowered in them. We profile a woman each week and we celebrate their accomplishments and their next steps. We highlight three pillars in the blog: art, culture and of course sneakers…with a backdrop of Toronto. Each backdrop relating to the person, and how that integrates with their story. Even if you’re not a sneaker enthusiast, you’ll read stories about amazing women just killin’ it! At the end of the day, it’s about supporting a network of women – showcasing their formidable talents, and their story behind their sneaker. 🙂 We’re creating that “reflection”, and so far we like what we see.
Do you feel like women are misrepresented in the sneaker community?
Yeah, I do. Personally, whenever I go into sneaker stores/boutiques to find a special release – most of the time – I either have to buy a men’s or a children’s sneaker. Isn’t that bizarre that the same sneaker available for men and children isn’t usually offered for women too? Trust me, I’ve run into what I like to call the “sneaker struggle.” And, I’m sure a lot of other women go through the same experience as I do! I feel like after men and children – women are a third thought, a last option when it comes to sneakers. They’re not taken as seriously. And, if they’re rocking sneakers – there are labels attached. But, social media has showed us that women are very much into the sneaker community. We don’t have to fit in, we can hold our own. The only problem? We’re overlooked. And, that needs to change.
What can the sneaker community do to ensure that women are included in the culture?
That, my sister, is up to women. We shouldn’t wait to be asked to speak on it, we can make our voices heard and our thoughts known. We can reach out to brands and say ‘Hey, there needs to be more of this!’ We need more women designers, illustrators, artists – because there’s so much talent out there! We need to speak up because “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” if you don’t voice what you want, you won’t get it.
You told me that you were born and raised in the 6ix, how would you describe the sneaker culture out there?
The 6ix has been underrated for a while, but in the last couple years we’re shining. The sneaker culture out here is pretty dope! We recently attended a sneaker event spearheaded by @martk’d and it was so amazing. The amount of artists that were there with the same interests just blew my mind! Connecting with the sneaker community, it feels like a second family – so definitely loving that! And as far a acknowledgement from the industry itself…well, just take a moment to think about the “Toronto” inspired sneakers that have released in recent years. Here’s an example haha:
Describe a day in your shoes:
A day in my shoes, emotionally and mentally, changes all the time. But, one thing that has stayed consistent is my “A” game. I’m constantly trying to improve my skill sets and achieve what I picture in my mind. A lot of times we downplay ourselves because we’re worried about what other people might think about us, and we want to stay in that safe zone. But, how can you soar amongst the clouds if you’re comfortable being grounded? There has been countless moments where I’ve had to do things that have made me uncomfortable, but you know what? I survived, I kept it moving and I learned. If you don’t fall, how will you eventually learn to stand up? So, for myself I’m always pushing forward even when there’s a voice in my head that’s like: ‘ahhh, I don’t know about this.’ Rise up, and stand up against your fears and you’ll see the difference.
How would you describe your style?
My style is very simple, yet chic. When I was younger, I attended seven million schools (ranging from public to private), and I believe that’s influenced my style a bit. How? Wearing a uniform everyday at private school, and then transitioning to my own form of expression at public school, has left me with a dichotomy of both worlds. So, what you get is preppy with some kick. That’s my style, haha! As you can see, I just can’t shake the plaid shirt. It’s an essential, for sure 🙂
Name 3 sneaker accounts that every sneaker lover should follow on Instagram:
Geeeze…there are so many!
Well, you should definitely follow @she.lace 😉
We also loooovee @jodirockstar – her name says it all!
Another one is @thebragaffair (that’s how @she.lace and @styleyourlife connected)!
And I personally love @vashtie! She’s the first one to design her own Jordan, and she’s amazing!!!