Sneaker Shawties- Episode 2

With major brands like Nike and Adidas collaborating with artists such as Travis Scott and Pharell Williams, and having designers like Tinker Hatfield, who is the author of silhouettes like the Nike Air Max One and the Air Jordan 3 or Kanye West’s Yeezy Adidas, the sneaker industry has been raking in the dough. And while Nike has had women like fashion influencer Aleali May and Nordstroms vice president of creative projects Olivia Kim create their own versions of well known silhouettes such as May’s Air Jordan One or Kim’s Air Forces, Nia Spencer, a 21 year old Brooklyn native who just got the chance to create her own Nike Air Max 95, believes women are constantly left in the background. Nia explains how important it is for her as a black woman to make a name for herself in an industry that she feels needs to finally hand over the reigns. I’m your host Imani Seda and this is Sneaker Shawties.

 In black slacks,  a black crewneck and a black varsity jacket Nia’s volt OFF-WHITE air force one’s quickly catch my attention as we walk to Georgetown Cupcakes which is only a few blocks from her new job at OFF-WHITE. When we enter the shop even though its eight o’clock at night the smell of freshly baked cakes welcome us along with very enthusiastic employees .

 After purchasing cupcakes and tea, Nia lets me know that while she loves sneakers, she is not a sneakerhead. 

 “I would not call myself a sneakerhead cause i don’t know about the history of sneakers. And when I say I like sneakers to someone, someone always asks me oh but do you really know about and I’m like not really I just like what I like I don’t really call myself a sneakerhead. People who don’t know me would call me a sneakerhead and associate me as a sneakerhead-“

 “Like if they just saw your instagram they would be like-“

 “They would be like oh she’s a sneakerhead. I personally don’t call myself that to protect myself from the question that comes after which is knowing about the history about sneakers and why this was made the way it is and stuff like that.”

 While Nia might not like to call herself a sneakerhead based on technicalities , she’s loved shoes ever since her mom bought her a pink pair of cowboy boots. 

 “I would sleep with them. That was like my love for shoes. That was my love for fashion . I think I was like seven and my mom couldn’t get me out of them.” 

Besides those pink boots, the only other shoes she used to wear were sneakers and she explains that her father wouldn’t have it any other way. 

 “My dad would never let me buy anything that was light up, anything that was lit up, sketches were not allowed. I was only able to do air force ones and Stan Smiths and Jordans and stuff like that.”

 While her dad made sure she was laced with the coolest sneakers, he isn’t the only one  who’s contributed to her love for kicks

 “I have 5 brothers so they more or less are like “yo this sneaker is about to come out” and i was like oh okay I want a pair too. And when my sneaker collection started to grow, I was like oh I never want to stop.” 

 With almost twenty thousand followers on instagram and thousands of likes on photos showcasing her best sneaker style, the Nike by you Cultivator page slid into her DM’s asking her along with thirty five others to co create a shoe with them.

” I thought it was fake. I was like I don’t know what this is they are trying to trick me or whatever but they were like can you apply.”

 “Was it a random person?”

” It was their instagram but I was like I don’t know. This doesn’t make sense to me but I was like whatever let me just apply. So I sent in this thing and they got back to me and was like oh you made it in and I was like okay. I still didn’t believe it. I actually told a friend about it and she was really that’s like a big deal. She was freaking out and I was like I don’t know why she’s freaking out this is obviously not real but it ended up being real. “

 She explains that everything was actually done on the computer. All the creators had to do was accept an invitation, add their own photos and blurbs as to what inspired the shoe they designed, pick from four different silhouettes and choose their colors. 

 “So my sneaker, the theme was identity about who the people help me be who I am. The colors don’t have anything to do with that but my best friend she wears the air max 95, that’s her favorite sneaker and she’s my best friend. I’ve known her for 20 years. She doesn’t know this but I made the sneaker that she would wear and she wears them everyday.”

 While her shoes we’re priced higher than she liked and therefore didn’t sell as many pairs as the other creatives,  she says she received a lot of great feedback and her parents bought two pairs each. This whole process she says, has actually gotten her wanting to design more shoes for Nike. 

 “My goal for 2020-2023 is to have my own air force one with Nike and have it release. Like Olivia Kim just did 5 different silhouettes and I think she’s the creative collaborations at nordstroms. I don’t really know who she was. I think it’s obtainable. She got a jordan four, two air force ones. The Jordan 4’s I have them. Now seeing her do that, I just have to figure out who I am and how the world is going to see me so I can be like to nike yo I want to make an air force one.” 

 She doesn’t just want to be a sneaker designer she tells me, she also wants to inspire people. 

” I want to be an inspiration for young black girls. I don’t know what that is, like I don’t know exactly what my path where it will take me but me personally I don’t know a lot of black women in fashion especially in the sneaker industry”. 

 Just as she’s been inspired by women such as Olivia Kim, she’d like to be that for someone else.

 “I want my child to know that anything is possible for her in any area because she knows there’s another women doing it. I’m in fashion, I don’t really know where i am in fashion but i want to create a path for a little black girl to be like okay shes doing that. Just the way I looked at Olivia Kim, she’s doing this. Hopefully one day I can make my own air force one or I can do this. I want a little girl to see me and be like I can do this you know give them hope because there’s no hope.” 

She explains that when it comes to women in the sneaker world, we should be able to create more sneakers. She believes that women need to make their own seats at the table. 

 “I feel like for the girls that are actually into it and love it I feel like it should be heightened. I feel like we need to speak more about it, talk more about it because it’s a man’s world and sneaker culture is a mans world but it is also a women’s world and I feel like we could do it better.”

Her hope for the future is more equality. 

 “I feel like it should be equal. It’s always men that are highlighted and women need to be too. Sometimes if its a women’s shoe its super girly. I’m not trying to wear pink all the time. The world thinks we want pink glitter. I really do love my bred fours and they are black red and grey. We are just as human as men.” 

 Nia wants the same as many other female sneakerheads like Lauren Cardenas wants, the same shoes and opportunities in this industry that men have. But while there might be bumps and blocks in her road, Nia’s ultimate goal is to design for Nike and inspire women just like she has been. Thank you for listening to Sneaker Shawties where female sneaker enthusiast tell their stories and opinions. Tune in to episode three where Danielle Leguillou an aspiring stylist who has gotten the attention from thousands of people because of her super cozy sneaker fits talks to us about what her journeys been like helping style for sneaker companies such as KITH. This is your host Imani Seda. 

 

Sneaker Shawties Episode One

INTRO: Whether you are someone who could care less about your feet’s or an adamant checks over stripes kinda person, the global sneaker market raked in a whopping $58 billion in 2018. With the popularity of street wear where your sneakers can make or break your fit, reseller apps such as GOAT and STOCK X  have people selling shoes that once retailed for something like $160 for thousands of dollars after its release. But while companies like Nike are raking in the dough from collaborations with artists such as Travis Scott and Virgil Abloh, these in high demand shoes that can be flipped for generous profits, are still being mostly released in mens sizing. Lauren Cardenas explains how women want the cool shoes in their sizing too. 

AMBI: Royalty free hip hop music

TRACK: When you walk through the entrance of sneakersnstuff you are greeted with an overwhelming amount of sneakers. From Nike air maxes to Adidas nite joggers to New Balance 990’s every table and even the meat freezer they turned into a sneaker display is filled strategically that would make any sneaker lovers wallet scream. As I pass the array of shoes and am lead to the back by assistant manager Kevin Vidal who is flexing in a pair of Dover Street Market air force ones, shelves filled with a rainbow of sneaker boxes make the tiny office/stockroom/employee break room a tad bit claustrophobic. Lauren the general manager enters the back out of breath and apologies for leaving me waiting. According to her the adidas meeting she was at went passed the time it was supposed to end and then there was the 6 train.  In a Yankee fitted, a black Nike ACG vest, black hoodie, black stone island track pants and grey and white New Balance 576’s, Lauren is effortlessly cool. Like not trying to be cool just naturally wakes up like that. At the start of our interview apparently she had another one waiting for her an employee informs her while apologetically interrupting us. 

AMBI: Employee ambi 

TRACK: She tells everyone else to only interrupt us if it’s urgent and then goes on to recall the moment every sneaker enthusiast has; that one moment in their lives where they fell in love with kicks, for Lauren, it all began at the age of 7. 

ACT: So growing up I was one of six kids, we really didn’t have money. And my grandmother took care of me, some of my siblings and this cousin I had whose Kathleen and we only a couple days apart. So we were always competitive, always fighting. And one day she got really really pissed and she pushed me in the pool. All my clothes were ruined so we had to go somewhere. My grandma had got us in the car and I had the opportunity to buy new clothes so I was hype and it was like these bootleg, I mean they were real nikes but nothing cool what would probably be a dad shoe now it would probably be cool now but it wasn’t back then but it was my first swoosh. I was like seven years old and after that, It was a wrap. I just wanted to collect shoes and i would try and get my grandmother to buy me new shit. 

IMANI:  So that was the start of you liking sneakers? 

LAUREN:  Yeah just like walking into a store and seeing how many different shoes. I wasn’t going to run in these shoes but when I put them on and I felt cool. Like every celebrities and athletes I was looking at. I played soccer at a young age. Mia Ham was like a big thing, she was like the first biggest woman in sports. Lisa Leslie, Cheryl Swoops and they were all like Nike girls. So like when I put that swoosh on, even if it wasn’t a basketball shoe when I put those shoes on, I wanted to be a better soccer player, better basketball player as a female. It was like being better at everything in life that what it was equivalent too.

TRACK: With already 250 pairs of sneakers in her Brooklyn apartment, Lauren joking gives free advertisement to the storage company she rents from thats houses the other 250 pairs of her collection.  

ACT: I use make space. It’s really good storage. 

IMANI: And you really wouldn’t call yourself a sneaker head with over 500 shoes.

LAUREN: I’m a hoarder. Like now i have this system because i can’t literally fit anything in my apartment that if i get a new shoe i give one away. Like in the past sb’s were really big for me so i refuse to get rid of sb’s because they don’t really make them anymore. Tinker Hatfield who is a long time Nike designer. Anything he touches i like to collect. 

IMANI: You even have a signed shoe by him right. Is that your favorite memory of a shoe? 

LAUREN:  Meeting him was actually really cool. I actually got out of sneakers because I was tired of working in the sneaker world and I worked for the eyeglass company Warby Parker. And everyone there was like super yuppie, upper east side, suit and tie and I was the only one that wore sneakers and i guess they got this email from Nike like hey, one of our designers want to come in and get fitted for frames. No one knew who he was. So the owner of the brand sent me an email, and was like do you know who Tinker Hartfield was and didn’t even spell his name right. And i’m like Tinker Hatfield…

TRACK: You can hear her voice get a little higher when she says his name and the big smile she has on her face just shows how much sneakers can mean to a person. 

ACT: and he’s like yeah come into the store and try on some frames. This was when Nike was launching the hyper adapts for the first time. So he was going to be at the new SoHo store. I stayed up the whole night before, I went through my whole closet trying to find which shoe I was going to choose and it was the Jordan 3 he designed to get Jordan to stick with/ staying with Jordan brand and Nike. And it was the first shoe I had bought with my own money. So it was crusty, falling apart, disgusting but he didn’t think it was weird. I met my hero and he didn’t disappoint me. We got in the photo booth, i’m pretty sure it smelled, there was dog hair in it and shit. It’s been around for some time. 

TRACK: Lauren’s first job at 16 was at a small sneaker store and today at 30 her resume boasts big name retailers such as Nike, Flight Club and Kith. With more than ten years in the industry, Lauren explains that when women actually help create something fire, they do not receive the acknowledgement they deserve. She describes how women specific shoes aren’t at all what women want. 

ACT: Women have made a huge impact but they are not being acknowledged for it. So like even the Nike design team, out of the three head designers two of them are female. But most people wouldn’t know that. People don’t even know who Tinker is. The people behind the scenes, the people who are actually producing the things we like follow story lines and we fall in love with are being produced and created by women but there is no spotlight on them and when you think of like women’s sneakers you think of something with like glitter on it, its pink, its iridescent, and its just like what that has to do with being a female, I don’t relate to and I don’t feel like any female relates to that. 

TRACK: The male dominated market according to Lauren is antiquated and all they have to do instead of wondering how to win there female customers, is actually allow for women to give their feedback and make decisions for themselves. 

ACT: We want the same thing that the entire market wants which is dominated by men. We have to allow women to give more feedback instead of it just being men sitting around talking about how do we win her. Allow her to just like make things for herself and just allow those women to actually make the decisions instead of sitting there and getting feedback from men about women. A man can’t tell you what a woman wants because he’s not a woman. And I think that’s the problem. It’s a male voice speaking for women.

TRACK: She expresses how while people who didn’t know better might argue that in recent years there have been various women who have collaborated with sneaker brands like Jordan and Adidas, its really not black and white. 

ACT: But what you see in the media makes it seem like, you know you see like Aleali Mae, you see Olivia Kim, you see all these people. They let us get a collaboration every now and then. But there is no female equivalent to a Travis Scott. Like there is no one that could put out shoes and can sell at the value that these collector items. Because every female shoe is the same. There is no value around it. If i wanna do a shoe they’ll just put my name on it, make it pink and i would never fucking wear that a day in my life but that’s what they think women want and we’re going to continue to silcence that female “sneaker head” 

TRACK: While she explains the faults with the way women are treated in the industry, she believes that change isn’t impossible. 

ACT: 

IMANI: Do you think it could change?  

LAUREN: I think it could change, I think it is changing. I think what kind of like hurts us is that there are influencers and you see these office people who don’t live life in real life, they live their life through instagram. So they see an influencer who maybe about fashion or beauty and they say oh a million girls follow her so she must gotta know what’s up with sneakers. When its like no it’s probably the girl who has a thousand followers, she probably skates and she’s probably not the most attractive because you know when it comes to women, sex has to sell. So because its not sexy, we don’t choose her. We are picking women to be in front of things but not the right women not one of this comfortable imagine of whatever it means to be a woman.

ACT: 

IMANI: you feel like women like Vashti like Aleali Mae and Olivia Kim, they are just these names… They want to be like oh here is a woman she’s popular she doesn’t really know about shoes but she seems cool 

LAUREN: Yeah like Aleali i’m sure she knows about shoes, she’s with it but then it’s just like Olivia Kim… no one even really knows who Olivia Kim is. But like everyone is like fuck it . Oh they made a Jordan 4 and it’s close to the black cats and its a girl and i’m going to support it. These shoes mean something to people. People would sit outside and wait for a shoe for six hours and not want to flip it for $600. That’s the shift in cultures. But that’s not sustainable. That consumer will eventually get bored and move on to something else where you have these real die hard fans of quality and storytelling and then they won’t want it either and the who thing dies. 

TRACK: For Lauren is really just boils down to something simple. 

ACT:  If you just make good product by good people with good stories, that last forever. That is why the air force has lasted so long. That is why kids are still buying Jordans but the kids that are buying Jordans weren’t even alive when he was actually playing. So those are the real stories and I think if we just stick to the basics then we’ll be able to make progress from all points. 

OUTRO: While Lauren might not continue with a career in sneaker retail which she has been doing for 14 years, she cannot imagine her life not involving sneakers. She hopes that one day they realize that women who have a love and passion for them just want the same ones they release for men in their sizes and more quantity of them so they don’t have to pay $1000 for a $120 shoe. Thank you for listening to Sneaker Shawties where female sneaker enthusiast tell their stories and opinions. Tune in to episode two where Nia Spencer, a college student who has her own Nike air max 95 tells us hers ! This is your host Imani Seda.

 

Final Podcast Project Pitch

For my final two podcasts, I’d like to explore New York City night life focusing on a more younger crowd (early/mid 20’s.) I would like two have my episode to follow people who are involved in this so I will be interviewing 21 year old Danielle Sanchez, who is a big social butterfly and loves to party. She has hosted a couple of parties at various bars and clubs and will be hosting a Halloween party in Meatpacking. I will also would be interviewing two DJ’s who have created a party that they bring to other places.

Unions Unpopularity

 

Santiago Ruiz’s 7 year old pitbull and scruffy steel toe work boots greet you at the bottom of the stairs when you enter his Queens basement apartment. His Milwaukee lunch box sits on top of his kitchen counter with a voltage tester sticking out of the side. There are sweaters and t-shirts with “IBEW” and local 3 spewed on the front and back hanging from various hooks and hangers in his closet. From the moment you enter his home, you are greeted with reminders that Santiago is not only an electrician but also a member of the electrical union. The day he joined, he says, was one of the happiest days of his life. 

  “ The non union job is just every man for themselves.”

After being used as a scapegoat for a job gone wrong, Santiago was fired from a non union company he had worked for for several years. Unemployed with bills to pay and a family to support, Santiago found himself applying to be apart of local 3’s apprenticeship program and three months later got in. 

 “ I feel valued at my job. I feel like I matter at my job. Im making some sort of  difference at my job and they actually care.”

Today over 60 labor unions represent more than 14 million Americans whose common goal is to protect the rights of workers in various industries. Joe Hester who is the assistant employment director of the Joint Industry Board of the Electrical Industry in conjunction with Union Local 3 explains why unions are important.

“Being apart of a union means a sense of structure, a sense of just guidance of protections most people aren’t afforded unfortunately. You have an opportunity to build a camaraderie, build a family structure where you know there’s an organization behind you that won’t let you get harmed or afflicted in anyway.”

Currently overseeing the employment of over 27,000 members, Joe is in charge of the distribution of manpower throughout New York City, Westchester and parts of Connecticut. While optimistic of the attitudes towards unions even though he knows they are declining in popularity, he explains that policies passed by the Trump administration such as restricting unions in the public sector are just the start and is one more step closer to the private sector. 

 “Under the Trump administration right now the NLRB has taken a big hit. The NLRB is the organization that protects workers all across the country of all sorts but when the people who that the president gets to place there aren’t pro worker, you’ll see they stated back in the Spring i think that there was an 11% drop in cases even being heard because people don’t even want to have their charges that they bring up slapped down all in favor of pro business people that they’ve appointed. So it just gets tougher and tougher fight.” 

While he believes unions to be only unpopular but will always be present, Joe describes that if in the future unions are no longer around, it would mean the disappearance of the middle class. 

  “Unions were made to support the middle class. One of our mottos you will hear all across the country is a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.We understand that companies have to make money that businesses have to make money but people just want their fair shake. But the harder it gets for unions to form and have the strength to help their workforce the worse it will be for workers all across the country.”

Santiago too has noticed the fight on the horizon and similarly to Joe doesn’t believe unions will become obsolete. Seeing how he has worked non union before however, the declining popularity of unions has kept him up at night picturing a world without them.

 “It would be pretty sad. I haven’t seen the positive side to the non union work. That might be dangerous in our field in particular because they’re aren’t many people qualified to the the work that we do… They don’t have things in place to teach you the right way. They just throw you into the pool and expect you to just learn things on your own”

While unions might be declining in popularity it seems that union members will not give up just yet and will continue fighting to have unions around. In Queens for Baruch College this is Imani Seda.

Pitch for Radio News Story

For my radio news story I will be discussing the decline of unions. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to spend a trillion dollars in infrastructure and promised that work to unions but typical Trump that was all words. Despite his claims of admiration of unions during his campaign, during his presidency he has been trimming away at their rights, making union workers like an endangered species. In order to execute this podcast, I will be interviewing Santiago Ruiz, a third year “m-helper” electrician who is apart of Union Local 3 and will also be interviewing Joe Hester, assistant employment director of Local 3’s employment department.

Podcast Pitch

Apps such as Instagram and twitter have become a place where people can garner internet fame by being fashionable, or fit, or a food enthusiast and other limitless qualities and things that are entertaining and engaging. But what is it like to be one of these “influencers?” Are they exactly how their instagram feed portrays them to be or is it a total facade? For this assignment, I will be interviewing an influencer who is more commonly known as “@Wuzg00d” to know if she is really “influencing” the 222k people who are fascinated by her vibrant OOTD (outfit of the day) insta posts.

Podcast: Darknet Diaries

The podcast I chose to listen and analyze was a random one I found on apples podcast app called “Darknet Diaries.” Each episode of the podcast (aside from there sometimes being different parts of the same story) explores various parts of the “dark” side of the internet. Since every episode of this podcast is different, it is not a necessity to listen to them from the beginning and a listener could begin where ever they wanted. The podcast consist of both host and interview and scripted and explains in sometimes extensive and boring details on how cyber crimes are committed. The two episodes I listened to were 45 and 46 which are called “Xbox Underground” parts one and two. In both episodes I noticed how the podcast just started off with journalist Jack Rhysider jumping right into the episodes. Curious as to where the advertisements were I went on the website for the podcast and it stated that up to episode 40, Rhysider did everything for this podcast solo. He did the investigating, the writing, editing, publishing etc. After the 40 episodes writers, graphic designers and others help him with the show. The podcast currently has 4.9 stars on Apple podcast with 1,361 customer reviews so I’d say it’s been well received.