SneakHER Culture: Transforming the Sneaker and Streetwear Space

From online editorials and brand partnerships to trading platforms and communities, more spaces have been created in recent years for women’s voices to flourish in the sneaker and streetwear industry.

For people who don’t know, tell us who you are and what you do?

My name is Cassidy Edwards and first and foremost, I am a mother of three. I like to call myself a cool mom because that’s the mission in life! I am the Director of Member Experience and Human Resources for Tradeblock and the Managing Editor of CNK Daily which stands for chics and kicks. 

What made you want to do what you do? 

It was kind of a full-circle moment. For the past 15 years, I have always been in Human Resources. I made the jump to come to Tradeblock back in August. In terms of CNK, I joined in 2017 to do editorial as well as a bit of business and social media. What makes me do what I want to do is service, not only to drive revenue growth but to champion others that are trying to advocate for those in the industry and advocate for representation. So service and creating community is really what I’m anchored in on both sides. Regardless of the role, brand or business, it still has the same ethos of community and that’s always been very near and dear to me. Also, really creating opportunities for others, which links back to service.

Tell us about Tradeblock.

With Tradeblock, it’s an app in the sneaker and streetwear space. It’s actually meant for trading sneakers so you can “use your kicks as currency” meaning you don’t have to necessarily go first to a resell marketplace where you would be spending way more money so it’s all about creating solutions and building community through a common bond of sneakers. All of the sneakers are 100% authenticated so you know you’re not getting something that’s not real and we have just added messaging so you can really communicate with other sneaker collectors as well. So overall Tradeblock is an awesome app, I’ve traded on there a handful of times and got some sneakers that I was really looking for and missed out on and didn’t want to pay what they were on the resale marketplace. Outside of creating those solutions, it’s saving you coins and you kind of get back to the thrill of the chase that we had when we were younger but in a digital sense. It’s also a Black-owned business, just like CNK as well, so representation is really important in all spaces. 

What does your role at Tradeblock entail?

For Director of Member Experience, I touch on a lot of areas within Tradeblock. At this time, we are a smaller team but we’re growing pretty quickly but I basically work on user research and human recourses functions or development. A lot of process and member experience which is ultimately member support so I help to build and create workflows around that as well as work on our nurture programming which is like building loyalty programs to make sure that customers feel seen, heard and valued. Essentially, I oversee building a lot and I work very collaboratively with my team. 

Tell us about CNK Daily.

CNK is a platform that’s meant to be a voice for women in the sneaker and streetwear space, specifically amplifying the voices of Black and Brown women. So what we do, especially on the editorial side which is where I’m at, is we highlight stories. Storytelling is probably my favourite because you can really promote those unsung heroes within our industry. We do editorials, interviews, social media promotions of everyday women that are in sneakers and a lot of sneaker styles. We also work with brands and I think that’s one of the really cool things which is that we connect people to brands while also connecting brands to culture. This includes some of the real trailblazers that have created some of the trends that everyone loves and we make sure that women’s stories are told. We also educate, empower, elevate and work to inspire everyone, not just women but everyone in this space, yet, we do cater more to women. 

What does the sneaker industry look like for women? 

Traditionally, and like most industries, it’s been a male-dominated space. Even in corporate America, which I’ve seen from working in HR, you don’t see representation all of the time even in the office buildings. So making those connections with real women such as those who are designing clothes or sneakers, influencers, content creators, artists or athletes, and making sure that they are being seen on a high level or giving them a platform, is something that we feel is ultimately super important. In doing so, that starts to change the directory and as we’ve seen within the last 5 years or so, it’s really been shifting. There are women that have joined or collaborated with brands that have started to change how the brands are catering to women. For example, Rhianna with Puma was huge. But she’s a celebrity, so kind of going down the line, even the Jordan brand in the past few years have created their own women’s division, specifically for designing footwear and apparel that are exclusively for women and I think that’s when we really started to see that things were starting to shift. Women are getting more of a voice and that’s important, so collectively, our voice is strong. 

So would you say that in the future, SneakHER culture is going to develop even further?

Yes, absolutely. It’s also giving credit where it’s due to the women who have been doing this when it wasn’t a trend and it was actually our lifestyle. From gold bangle earrings to gold grills, all of that wasn’t a trend for marketing, that was actually how we lived and what we did. So I think giving credit to even regionally-based stories is great. 

How would you say your role as a Mother overlaps with how you advocate for women in this industry and with the positions you have within these platforms? 

All of it is so interconnected! There’s an intersection at every point and there’s so much synergy that got me to this point. As a mom, I have a son who’s in college and he’s also a sneaker lover. One of my daughters, the middle child, she’s into sneakers now too. She can actually almost wear mine already! It gives me a sense of letting them know that you can really do anything. I like to show them what it’s like to have actions behind your words. A lot of the time they are with me on different projects or campaigns, they’re always interested in what I am doing so I am always just trying to show them that we can create representation as Black women. I am really just trying to empower them to use their gifts in the future. 

Do you have any advice to share?

A lot of times in sneakers and streetwear I feel like the space wasn’t necessarily designed for us back then and that’s a feeling that’s also in corporate America or in other industries. I think that what I want people to know on both sides with Tradeblock and CNK, is to use your network to help you push forward. You don’t have to network at the top, you can actually pull people along with you and you can create your own network. Also, always be a student, because even though I have larger roles, I’m always learning and I think that’s important to note. 

Do you have a favourite sneaker brand?

Oh yes, the Jordan brand is kind of my thing. Growing up in the South, Jordan always reigned supreme as far as footwear. So when I was in school, all of the cool girls had Jordans and that was kind of the big thing. Jordan 1 is a classic and Jordan 12 is off the beaten path, it looked different to me so I thought it was really cool. 

Anything exciting coming up? 

With Tradeblock, we have some design updates that are happening within the app. We just launched messaging and that has been a gamechanger, now people can communicate and make connections without having to go outside of the app. We also have a special campaign coming up for the holidays for ‘her’ to build some representation and diversity of our main demographic. For CNK, we always have some things in the works such as editorials and there are some great interviews coming up with some really special women, along with campaigning and features that highlight some women that are doing some amazing things in this space. 

I just wanted to add that it’s great to see that you have built a sneaker and streetwear space like this for women! I remember being so interested in sneaker culture when I was growing up, yet I felt intimidated, especially by those who appeared to be more knowledgeable about it. 

What we always say to women is that “sneakers are what makes you come to us, but the community is why you stay.” In other words, we want to be inclusive. As an HR professional in the past, creating an equitable environment to be in is always number on. So whether you have one pair of shoes or one hundred, it doesn’t matter, you are still welcomed and that is relevant in both Tradeblock and CNK. Just like you, I was way less confident and intimidated when I was younger, but now it’s more of a “you can rock what you like and be extra fly” mentality. 

How can we get connected?

To stay up to date, you can follow Tradeblock, CNK Daily and my personal account on Instagram!