This summer was a wavy one, i’ll admit. From being immersed in the sunshine to being able to meet sole sista Jamila, the co-founder of sneaker blog She Lace aimed to empower women in sneaker culture, one lace at a time. Jamila was visiting Edmonton this fine summer and when she reached out to collaborate, I couldn’t say no! We met in the heart of Downtown Edmonton and right off the bat, Jamila’s fit spoke volumes. I could tell that she on the Adidas wave thanks to a classic pair of Stan Smith’s in the Farm Black print. Her jersey dress even matched her jawns. A year prior, I met with the second co-founder Kiah who flexed her Foamposites as we strolled through Graffiti Alley and she mentioned Jamila during our walk. I took her to the funicular to give her a dose of Downton Edmonton in the summertime. As we snapped shots, we took in the view of the city from where she expressed her thoughts on sneaker culture in the 6ix and how it correlates to She.Lace. Considering the fact that Jamila currently works as an elementary school teacher, I wanted to get her take on what being a woman immersed in sneaker culture has taught her. Peep our interview below!
Who is Jamila?
Jamila is a young woman who is trying to figure out her purpose in the world. So far, I’m finding it with teaching. I am currently an elementary teacher and I love working with children. They are full of energy and I love having the opportunity to encourage their curiosity and learning. I am also passionate about empowerment, specifically women’s, and creating positive representations. This is where my growing love for photography and she.lace comes in. My goal with photography and She.Lace is to help create positive representations for children and youth to ensure that they believe their dreams are attainable.
Tell us about how you founded She.Lace and what was the goal for the platform?
I am big on representation! I am a woman, and I am also a black woman. So from a young age I always looked to see myself reflected in the media that I consumed. After going shopping with Travis and growing to like sneakers, my growing love for sneakers was accompanied by a growing disappointment in not seeing myself represented on the shelves. Travis, Kiah and I discussed what we were noticing and felt like She.Lace could be a solution to this issue. It also came from viewing a lot more sneaker pages and not seeing women or Toronto reflected on these forums. Our goal is to carve out a space for women within the sneaker community to ensure that their ideas and beliefs are taken into consideration and celebrated.
How did you get into liking sneakers?
From a young age I’ve always liked sneakers. I have a tendency to be drawn to things that are a little different. I kind of like to stay away from things that are over hyped. We would often go to the States to purchase back to school clothes and sneakers. I have always found the selection in the U.S. different from Toronto. I love buying clothes and sneakers there because it would be different from what was available back home. Through those family trips and being exposed to different designs and colourways my love for sneakers grew. Back in Toronto, I didn’t buy a lot because I also felt like I grew up with this misconception/idea that sneakers are expensive. I didn’t want to pressure my parents to spend that money and I didn’t really start working until I was in university. That’s when I learned about Travis’ collection, he showed me a few things and then I started purchasing more sneakers.
What is it like to walk in your shoes?
By day I am an educator and on my free time I am working to use photography and She.Lace to create positive representations for women.
Tell me about the sneaker scene in Toronto?
It is definitely growing and there has been a lot more women present within the scene. There have been a few promotional and collaborative events that have been catered to the female sneaker consumer. In July The Jordan x Vogue Collaboration for the Air Jordan 1 Zip AWOK was launched in Toronto, through a brunch that brought together women who are making invaluable contributions and creating positive representations of women within the culture. To also launch this sneaker, the Jordan Store hosted an event with female stylists, djs and artists. A talented Toronto-based artist Alexis.Eke, who is creating very dope work, collaborated with Jordan to create an exclusive t-shirt that was sold for a limited time only. In Toronto we are seeing a lot of brands collaborating with artists, celebrating their artistry and talents and this is a great thing to see. Just a few recent examples: Foot Locker Canada hosted a Women’s Sneaker Talk. The Nordstrom x Nike Sneaker Boutique catered to women has also hosted sneaker customizing events (The Force is Female). There is a lot taking place in Toronto through the arts and sports, which is helping to put the spotlight on the city. It is great to see and have opportunities to take part in these events.
What are some obstacles that you face when it comes to she.lace and how did you overcome those hurdles?
We have been lucky in a sense that we have been well received from family, friends and colleagues. She.Lace is not just about wearing sneakers and purchasing sneakers. We are doing this to empower women, to learn more about women’s role within the sneaker culture. We aim to take what we learn and highlight opportunities within the culture that aren’t necessarily known with the hopes that we can make women know what is available for them. To encourage the youth and women of all ages, we aim to create positive representations of women in all fields, especially in relation to male dominated spaces.
Do you find that your city caters to women in sneaker culture?
As mentioned before there has been a lot of events that focus on the female sneaker fan. I am a huge fan of the events that incorporate female artists and creatives. In terms of the actual supply, I think there has been an improvement. But there are still stores and boutiques that have a limited selection of female sneakers available. It also has to do with what is being produced and made available to these stores. There are still sneaker releases that only come in male sizes and there are still women missing out. I think the notion of what the female sneaker consumer wants is slowly moving away from all the sparkles and bright pink colourways. As long as we continue to speak up and ensure that there are women in positions within the culture that can create with the female sneaker consumer in mind, we are on the right track.
What made you want to reach out and do a collaboration in YEG?
I was coming out to YEG to visit family and we love what you are doing there. Your views on women within the sneaker culture aligns with She.Lace, and we’re all about supporting other women on the same mission. We just thought it would be a great opportunity to work with you again. I have a friend, Richard, living there as well and he is a photographer. It gave me the opportunity to shoot with you both and see the city. She.Lace for us is also about being a “tourist” in our own city and finding dope places to shoot at. So, we extend the mindset to when we travel to other places. Thank you for suggesting the 100 Street Funicular and the Muttart Conservatory. It was a fun day, my sister and I even took the transit downtown.
How would you describe the culture in Edmonton and do you feel that the city is developing?
I got a little taste of the culture while I was there. I didn’t get the opportunity to attend any events but when I come back I would like to. While we were by the 100 Street Funicular, I could not get over the views. There is a lot of greenery and natural beauty so close to the downtown area which is a little different from Toronto. At the Muttart Conservatory there was a great view of the skyline. In regards to the arts, I have a friend out there who is one of the three co founders of paymeTHRUart, which hosts events that showcase local artists. I would have loved to attend one of their events. I enjoyed getting to hit up the outlets. A pair of Nike Cortez for $40, you can’t go wrong. I would also like to hit up any sneaker stores on the next trip.
What does #ShesGotSoleXO mean to you?
#SheGotSoleXO is about bringing women together to ensure that our voices are being heard. It’s about creating a space for women to be recognized within a community dominated by men. It is also about women expressing their creativity and ensuring their personalities are shining through.