Ahriana Edwards, 23-year-old founder of a footwear brand that specifically caters to women who wear sizes 9-14, finds a home in select Macy’s across the U.S.
Edwards’ company, Valia Shoes, was birthed in response to a lack of size inclusion from other existing brands. In an Instagram post, the Gen Z CEO says, “there’s no credit I can give to anyone except the man above.”
“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.”
According to AfroTech, Edwards came up with the concept for Valia Shoes in 2021 and officially launched in 2022 and has secured over $80,000 in non-dilutive funding.
On paper, it appears as though Edwards’ ideas and launch happened overnight, but she put in the work for her blueprint to come into fruition.
She pitched the concept of Valia Shoes in over 20 competitions, and at the time, she didn’t even have a physical product out on the market.
“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 told 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.”
Valia Shoes is expanding to five Macy’s locations in the country: New York City (Hearald’s Square), Washington D.C. (Pentagon City Mall), and Atlanta (Lenox, Cumberland and Stonecrest Mall).
“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.”
Shop the size inclusive brand here: Vaila Shoes.