23-Year Old Ahriana Edwards’ Size-Inclusive Footwear Line Finds A Home At Macy’s

23-Year Old Ahriana Edwards’ Size-Inclusive Footwear Line Finds A Home At Macy’s

Where other people see problems, Black women see the potential for solutions. Such was the case for 23-year-old Ahriana Edwards, who, upon realizing the blind spot of brands that failed to cater to women who wear shoe sizes 9 through 14, created Vaila Shoes. And now, only one year later, her decision to pursue her dream full-time is paying off.

“There’s no credit that I can give to anyone else except for the man up above,” Edwards wrote on Instagram. “He gave me the vision and told me that it was time to MOVE. It was time to execute. I left my FULL-TIME JOB to achieve this dream of building this shoe company for women with extended shoe sizes.” To date, Vaila Shoes has raised $80,000 in funding without giving away equity in the company. Before even having a physical product on the market, Edwards pitched her brand in over 20 competitions to attract the interest of investors.

“When I started the concept for Vaila in 2020, I knew in 2021 that I needed to raise as much upfront capital to launch and sustain the business,” Edwards said in an email interview with Afrotech. “2021 was imperative because it was the time being where individuals truly saw how underfunded Black founders were. Although I didn’t have any product in market yet, I took that opportunity and ran with it.” After six months in operation, her business has expanded into five Macy’s locations in New York City, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. “It took a lot of grit to be a 23-year-old founder pulling off this six-figure contract,” Edwards said. “I experienced the most difficulty raising funding for this partnership, but I kept persisting and doing whatever it took to make it work.”

Grace Jacobson, who serves as Associate Shoe Buyer at Macy’s, was impressed by Edwards’ stick-to-itiveness, according to AfroTech. “Ahriana is so inspiring creating a business that will help others feel their best having shoes that will support their shoe size that currently isn’t supported much in the marketplace,” she said in an interview with the outlet. “I also admired how Ahriana is showing that regardless of your age, you can still be able to make a change in this world and to just start.”