Master Class Seeks to Increase Diversity in Footwear Industry
Portland, OR – May 26, 2015 – PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy, in partnership with BMe Community, a growing network of black men and others committed to building better communities, today announced the launch of PENSOLE presents BMe SOLECIETY, a hands-on, four-week, intensive footwear design master class created to empower, educate and mentor the next generation of leaders in the footwear industry, according to PENSOLE founder D’Wayne Edwards.
“Our goal is to show our youth they can be more than consumers,” Edwards said. “So we have assembled a network of more than 50 African-American footwear professionals nationwide to put them on the path to success in this industry.”
The BMe SOLECIETY master class will take place from August 3 – 28 at PENSOLE in Portland, Oregon. Eighteen aspiring footwear leaders will be selected and assigned to six teams of three students, representing three footwear professions—brand design, footwear design, and material design—representing a similar corporate structure found in today’s largest footwear companies. Students will take a product from concept to completion while developing skills in the areas of leadership and professionalism.
Edwards said while creating this opportunity he considered his own career path. He has able to rise up the ranks in the footwear industry but he says the industry’s lack of diversity is sobering, especially considering the dollars that people of color spend on footwear.
“In 1989, when I started in the footwear industry I was one of three. Sadly, 26 years later, there are less than 100 African-American footwear designers representing less than 5% of the total designers in the U.S. footwear industry,” Edwards said.
BMe Community, whose mission is to build stronger communities, will work with its network of more than 12,000 Community Builders to spread the word about the opportunities for African-Americans in footwear design.
“BMe was founded with the belief that we must tell the truth – that black men are assets to society,” said BMe founder Trabian Shorters. “We have decided to partner with PENSOLE and D’Wayne Edwards because he is using his assets to help young people develop their assets. The young people win, communities win, and future consumers win.”
PENSOLE’s “learn by doing” curriculum introduces students to the product creation process including:
- Footwear design: Consumer profiling, storytelling, sketching, tech packs, branding
- CMF: Leadership, terminologies, storytelling, palette development, presentation
- Business of design: Industry trends, product briefs, strategic thinking, marketing plans
Applicants must choose an area of interest and submit the following:
- Footwear: One hand-sketched (only) original footwear design
- CMF: One original material + color palette showing the use of both materials and color arrangements
- Business by Design: Three examples of existing companies/brands that have a new approach to creating and selling products and/or services
All entries must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m., on Sunday June 28, 2015 through http://mesh01.com/pensole in order to be eligible to win a scholarship to attend this class. Applicants who are accepted into the BMe SOLECIETY will be notified on Friday, July 3, 2015. All entrants must be at least 18 years of age.
About BMe Community
BMe Community is a growing network of all races and genders committed to building better communities across the U.S. BMe is founded and inspired by black fathers, coaches, businessmen and students who use their time and resources to strengthen neighborhoods, mentor young people, and create businesses. Each day they REACH out to share inspiring stories, useful information and important opportunities. You can too.
PENSOLE’s “learn by doing” curriculum teaches students the entire footwear design process: inspiration, concept-development, design process, problem solving, materials, business, networking, marketing, and branding. PENSOLE features the most sought after faculty in the footwear world, comprised of both young professional designers and established footwear design leaders from the top brands, with more than 100 years combined experience to guide students in their professional development.
D’Wayne Edwards, a celebrated member of the global footwear community for the last 26 years, founded PENSOLE to give talented young design students—regardless of socioeconomic background—an opportunity to learn from the industry’s best, without financial barriers, and to provide the industry with a farm system for the next generation of footwear designers.
Since the first PENSOLE class in 2010, more than 100 Academy graduates have been placed professionally, full-time or as interns, for footwear companies worldwide, including Columbia Sportswear, The North Face, Timberland, Converse, New Balance, Cole Haan, Under Armour, Keen, Stride Rite, adidas, JORDAN, Kenneth Cole, ECCO, Reebok and Nike.