All about the Black woman founder behind Nike’s new Air Force 1

Abu Mubarik January 23, 2023
Jennifer Ford. Photo credit: Yuli Gonzalez via Hypebeast/Premium Goods

In 2004, Jennifer Ford from Houston made history as the first Black woman to own a sneaker retail store in America when she opened Premium Goods. The launch of Premium Goods came as an extension of her friend’s original store in Brooklyn.

Ford’s retail store became known for some of the hottest kicks and was well-received in Houston. “It’s about being with other people who enjoy the same thing as me and [building] a community,” Ford told Vogue.

Fast forward to 2023, the Houston native is partnering with sneaker giant and longtime supporter Nike to introduce a new Air Force 1. According to Vogue, the design was entirely done by Ford, who wanted to try the craft since her early 20s.

“There’s this artistic part of me that I never get the time to use or develop,” said Ford. “I knew I was fully capable, but now seeing this creation I made, I know I can do it. It’s every sneaker owner’s dream.”

The sneaker design features quilted sides inspired by her favorite purses and a beaded iteration of the signature Nike swoosh. What is more, the collection features two sets of black and beige AF1s named after Ford’s daughter Sophia and niece Bella.

A metal rose also holds the laces, which Ford uses to represent a generational family name. The shoes’ accents are a love letter to Black women who continue to inspire her success, Vogue said.

Houston told that her affinity for sneakers started when she was a little girl. She grew up wearing Air Jordans in junior high and high school. “When I went off to college, I switched to Air Maxes. I grew to love them as well, and would wear them into the ground,” she recalled.

Ford didn’t have a relationship with Air Force 1 until she opened Premium Goods. This was because it didn’t feel like the most inviting style for female sneakerheads, she said. “The colors that were available in my size back then didn’t really do it for me either,” she noted.

Prior to opening Premium Goods, Ford was working in high-end retail and jewelry in the early 2000s. Starting a sneaker retail store did not come easy for her. She described the first few years as very “tough”. All the same, she knew there were other people like her who wanted access to more than just the standard sneakers one could find in any city.

Ford hit success after she got on NikeTalk and began promoting the store, and it just spread like wildfire. “Guys would come in with their girlfriends to get Air Force 1s or Jordans, and we made sure that we’d always have an extended size run so there’d be something for both of them,” she told Hypebeast. “Even something as simple as extended sizing wasn’t common at the time, but my team and I would do that and also ensure that we were ordering women’s shoes instead of just kids’ shoes that fit women.”

“Women don’t want a kids Air Max 95 with no forefoot Air. They want the real thing, just like the guys do. We always made sure we had a proper selection, and that attention to detail built a lot of trust with our community.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 23, 2023


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