Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Jamila Husbands and Kiah Welsh are prime examples of that. These two women have embarked on a journey to empower women from all walks of life. "How?" you may ask. Two words--"she.lace."
She.lace is an online platform on which Husbands and Welsh bring together the sneaker culture, art and women's empowerment.
It all started because Husbands and Welsh continually felt that the sneaker industry did not adequately highlight women. They would go into sneaker stores only to be frustrated when their shoe size could hardly be found on the shelves.
Travis Pereira, the sole man on the she.lace team, has recognized the plight of his female co-founders. A sneaker head himself, he soon realized when shopping with Husbands that there was a disparity. "A lot of the sneaker boutiques in stores wouldn't have shoes available for women," Husbands says, and this experience opened Pereira's eyes to how women are being left out of the sneaker world.
Like many other movements, she.lace started with a small effort--Welsh and Husbands began taking pictures and posting them on Instagram last October. When Welsh, Husbands, and Pereira decided that Instagram just wasn't enough to reach a larger audience and build awareness, the trio grew the Instagram account into a blog that officially launched in April 2017.
"We see there's something missing. We are really trying to ensure that all women are represented," Husbands remarks.
Husbands’ current love is for the Nike Foamposites and the Air Max ‘97 in gold, but the fact that she had to purchase the kicks in youth sizes because they don’t come in women's highlights underrepresentation of women like her and Welsh in the industry.
The founders of she.lace believe that sneakers are a great way to express oneself and can be empowering. You have control, it's your choice if you want to dress it up or be more casual with your attire. Unfortunately, the lack of variety excludes a set of women from certain shoes and styles, limiting their ability to participate in this kind of self-expression.
For Welsh, Husbands, and Pereira, creating a much-needed space for women to feel celebrated in a male industry is key. And it’s not just about sneakers being available in women’s sizes. There are fabulous female designers working in the sneaker culture but you don't see them or hear about them either. she.lace plans to make them more visible with their platform. The three have found it empowering to see and highlight women designers who are making strides despite the lack of recognition. For example, singer and actress Rihanna introduced Puma by Fenty. Other women's footwear designers include Reebok designer Melody Ahsani, and Caroll Lynn van den Brom who works with Puma.
In the near future, she.lace would like to continue to grow their blog and collaborate with women to highlight their different ventures, hustles, and passions. They also want to work with women-owned companies and designers and empower women from diverse backgrounds, from filmmakers to educators. Husbands, an educator herself, witnesses first hand the impact of building the self-confidence for young girls from an early age and wants she.lace to be a part of that.