Cassidy Edwards’ introduction to sneaker culture began during the glory days of basketball legend Michael Jordan. Repping Third Ward Houston, TX, Jordans and Air Max shoes have always reigned supreme in her city.

“You would always see Air Maxes and growing up that’s probably what I saw the most down South,” Edwards told AfroTech. “I was always intrigued by the girls with the big bamboo earrings and grills. That’s always been a part of Houston culture and then sneakers intersect those things. Music, DJ Screw, grills and Jordans was kind of the thing.”

Since high school, Edwards’ love for sneakers has always been a creative outlet for expression and now 20 years later, it still continues to follow her throughout her life.

The Houston native’s journey transformed her into a certified sneakerhead, but her passion runs deeper than just collecting sneakers. Within her career, her mission in the sneaker community is to increase representation for women in sneaker culture.

From Corporate America To Tradeblock

Edwards worked in Human Resources for 15 years up until joining Tradeblock — a Black-owned sneaker trading app. Once joining Tradeblock’s team, Edwards planned to bring over key elements from her past work experience.

“I said, ‘Hey, we can bring that business acumen over to Tradeblock,’ and it really branches out into a lot of different areas of the business,” Edwards shared with AfroTech. “Member experience touches nurture programming. Making sure our members are heard, seen and they feel valued within the sneaker community because that’s really what it’s grounded in.”

As Tradeblock’s Director of Member Experience and Human Resources, Edwards has watched the app’s community continue to grow. Tradeblock — a social marketplace for users to network — aims to create solutions for accessibility and cultural equity in the sneaker space. Tradeblock’s values also align with Edwards’ dedication to creating spaces for women sneakerheads.

“I think that for Tradeblock — we want to create more of a community for women too,” Edwards said. “Sneaker culture has been historically this male-dominated space, but Tradeblock is intentional on their messaging. They really want to be like ‘Hey, we welcome you. We want to be inclusive and diverse. And there’s a difference. We want to create this equitable marketplace for everyone.’”

Championing Women In Sneaker Culture

Along with her work at Tradeblock, Edwards is the managing editor of CNK Daily — a platform created to amplify and empower women’s voices.

“It’s really not just the sneakers that move the culture, it’s the stories,” Edwards told us. “I think on both sides [Tradeblock and CNK Daily] are capturing stories in a unique way. Amplifying the voices of unsung heroes — specifically Black and brown women — is very important. They’re both Black-owned businesses as well. I feel that it’s really rooted in intentionality and anchored in what we want [which is] representation, and we’re going to create it.”

The intention behind CNK Daily takes things further for women representation by helping women cultivate their skills, promote their businesses and connect them with the right networks to succeed.

“Along with highlighting women on social media, we create that bridge between our grassroots platform and big brands to showcase women,” she continued, “because a lot of times you kind of need that assist in getting your work shown to brands and if we have that capability to do that then we always do.”

Sneaker Culture And Its Shift Toward More Women Representation

Sneaker culture is gradually changing and brands are beginning to pay more attention to the importance of women inclusivity. Although the movement is currently slow-paced, Edwards believes that there’s going to be a lot more women making moves and being seen in the sneaker space.

“We’re seeing this shift in accessibility a little bit. There’s a lot more shine,” Edwards said. “In the collective voice of women supporting women, there’s power. We feel empowered which is important and I think that by shining our light and being anchored in that community over competition really gives people that feeling of ‘I can do this too and I don’t have to be put in a box.’”

Editorial Note: Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity.