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SoleSavy creates a space for women in the sneaker community

In this article:
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Anna Bediones, SoleSavy’s Director of Women’s Strategy, joined Yahoo Finance to discuss how women are trying to shrink the gender gap in the sneaker community.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance. I'm Jared Blikre. The sneaker industry has a gender problem. It is a male-dominated industry, but we have a guest here from SoleSavy. She is the new director of women's strategy who's going to help us get some inside information here on what can be done.

This is Anna Bediones. And, Anna, let's start with Sole, let's start with SoleSavy, your company. What's your mission and then what led you into this new role of director of women's strategy?

ANNA BEDIONES: So SoleSavy's mission as a whole is to put the community first and just make sneakers about community again. Because right now, the focus is profits over people, and we've lost sense of that community that built the sneaker community in the first place. And my role as the director of women's is to take that the next step and create a space for women to enjoy sneakers as well.

There are a lot of women who are joining this community now and don't really know where to start. There aren't a lot of resources for them to buy sneakers. It's the hardest it's ever been right now.

And I was just inspired by just like the following that I built on social media over the last 10 years and the conversations I've had with women along the way. And I've made so many friends online that we all agree that there is a gender gap in the sneaker space. So, SoleSavy and I, it kind of-- I freelanced for a couple of times in the past, and I think it was just like very serendipitous the way that we got together to solve this problem. It falls perfectly within what they're trying to solve.

REGGIE WADE: And I'm Reggie Wade here. First, I have to say your shoe display put mine to shame. I only got one pair back there. The rest are in another room, though. But so great to speak with you.

You know, for so long, the theory was for women's sneakers, you shrink it, and pink it, and that's a shoe. And we kind of see the evolution on what the brands are offering women. Do you think that-- do you like what you see and do you think this is something that's going to continue?

ANNA BEDIONES: I do like what I see. I mean, there's always space to improve. And shrink it and pink it, that was something we were screaming about or complaining about like 15 years ago. And today, I have a lot of pink in my background, I don't mind the pink, and I think brands are definitely trying a lot of variations to cater to the female consumer.

We're not one-dimensional, right? We like many different types of things, and we joke about how many personalities we all have. But it's impossible to fit what a woman is into one image, so I do think brands are doing a good job. Can they improve? Of course, they can.

But where we are right now, we have a lot of amazing collaborators. We have women's-only sneakers that are being designed by women. And we're slowly growing the space and incorporating women into it.

SEANA SMITH: Anna, from your perspective, what companies or what brands have done the best job at doing this? Which brands have been able to reach out to women and really attract that audience?

ANNA BEDIONES: My personal favorite is Jordan brand. They've been working with-- and by no means are they the first to do this. But they've been working with some collaborators like Aleali May, Vashtie over 10 years ago, Melody Ehsani.

And I think they just really hit the mark with all of those collabs because those are women who are really leaders in the space and style icons. And a lot of women look up to them, and they've been able to really accomplish excellent sneakers in my opinion. I have a whole row of Aleali Mays behind me, and they recently did the Jordan 3 A Ma Maniere raised by women collaboration that, again, like was amazing.

The rollout was amazing. They were able to really put women first with that release. And I think that it's showing in the product that they're bringing forward.

REGGIE WADE: Anna, you're heading up SoleSavy's new women's community. How does that differ from SoleSavy's regular community and what are some of the things that women can look forward to if they join that community that they wouldn't get from some of your competitors?

ANNA BEDIONES: I don't think any of our competitors have a women's community yet. And how we differ, so SoleSavy, like our entire ethos is to put our community first. And by creating a separate women's space, we take that to the next level, as I kind of mentioned earlier, by having a dedicated team leaders to actually speak to our women and like monitor this community, having dedicated women's content.

And one of my personal goals that I want to bring with me is to create opportunities for women as well. So I put out a call for women who wanted to start writing about sneakers or women writers. And we've gotten-- I've gotten so many applications for that, and some of them came from our community as well. And it's like, OK, this is amazing because this is an opportunity for our community to explore other experiences and maybe career paths potentially beyond being just a sneaker consumer or a sneaker influencer one day.

REGGIE WADE: And I have to ask you. How did the pandemic affect the secret community from where you stand? Because everyone's used to going out to the big conventions, touching and feeling things, and it went much more online. So what do you think it's done for how you guys do business?

ANNA BEDIONES: I actually think it's helped how we've done business because, over the last year, we've all really gravitated towards-- or I guess we didn't really have a choice but to be digital, right? And since SoleSavy is already that, we're able to further strengthen our community and really direct people to online places that they-- and resources that they can purchase sneakers from as well as make network with people online. The SoleSavy community, we have members all over Canada and the US. I'm up in Canada.

And the bonds we've built in the last-- I guess, I've only been on the team for four months now, but I've already made a lot of friends in there. We have members who've been friends for over a year, some two years, and they all met online. And like prior to the pandemic, you were really limited to those conventions and things. We're only limited to geographic boundaries. Now that we're digital, we can all go extend beyond that. And people are creating relationships across borders, across states, and it's been really nice to see, and I think it's really strengthened us as a team and as a resource.