Jennifer Ford owns a sneaker shop in Houston called Premium Goods, and now she’s created a signature Air Force 1 for Nike.
Her sneaker retail store is reportedly the country’s only Black female-founded store — and Nike took notice. She partnered with the sneaker giant to introduce two colorways for her Premium Goods x Nike AF1, one named after her daughter, Sophia, the other after her niece Bella.
This collaboration is a major feat for Ford. Nike sells more than 10 million AF1s annually, and the company roughly sells 25 pairs of shoes per second each day, according to Fame Magazine. The shoe brand debuted in 1982 and became popular with the rise of hip-hop culture and the success of Michael Jordan’s brands, Air Jordan.
Premium Goods x Nike AF1
Both the Sophia and Bella AF1s feature micro jewelry and have a quilted pattern design. The Premium Goods x Nike Air Force 1 Sophia debuted Jan. 20, and is available in-store at Premium Goods or online from Nike for $150 per pair.
The shoes utilize a blending technique of different colors of microbead jewels to create the signature Nike swoosh. It is a unique design.
“There’s this artistic part of me that I never get the time to use or develop,” Ford told Vogue. “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.”
Ford, a sneaker aficionado since the 1990s, has wanted to design her own shoes since she was in her early 20s.
The opportunity is more than self-fulfillment; it was a milestone for all Black women in the shoe industry, a design niche dominated by men.
“For me, it’s important, because if I’m the only one, people have to see me,” Ford said.
She got into sneakers after wearing them while commuting to her midtown Manhattan workplace and returning home in Brooklyn. Her workplace, at the time, required Ford to wear high heels.
“I was working for a major company in New York and they’d literally require us to wear a suit top, pantyhose and a skirt. I lived in Brooklyn and worked in Midtown, so there was no way I’d go all the way into the office wearing heels,” recalled Ford to HypeBeast. “I’d wear a pair of Air Maxes in, switch to heels at work, then immediately switch out afterward.”
Relying on sneakers for comfort ultimately led to her opening her business.
“I grew to love the mixture of different looks, and then I met Clarence [Nathan, Premium Goods Brooklyn founder], who showed me there was even more of a fusion that could be had: We’d go hunt for rare sneakers on the weekends and then he’d wear them casually with slacks and a shirt way before that cross-over was commonplace. That mixing of aesthetics really inspired me when I opened my business,” she told HypeBeast.
She established Premium Goods in 2004, an offshoot of Premium Goods Brooklyn, which is owned by Nathan. Her shop has a focus on sneakers for women, although she does sell men’s sneakers as well.
“It was tough at first, but I knew there were other people — and other women — like me who wanted access to more than just the standard sneakers you could find in any city,” she shared.
Ford took every opportunity to advance her new store.
“We 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 said. “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.”