Last Month D’wayne Ewards and his team over at Pensole not only launched the first AAFF but received a $2million injection from Footlocker

So I had some questions to ask.


1 – This partnership is on the heels of the Stadium Goods and Farfetch deal, where a luxury retailer is securing a foothold in the sneaker culture following. In this case Foot Looker Inc., in a way, is securing a fully functional design house – which is a phenomenal idea. Was this part of the plan? 

DE: Yes! PENSOLE is an unconventional educational academy and we want to empower our students to design their future, and what better way than to combine their talents with a retailer like Foot Locker to distribute it? During my career, I have never been afraid to try something new and I am sure after we establish this new model other schools will follow us. 


2 – What are some of the PENSOLE programs you will implement first – Are there any new programs that you having been waiting to put out? 

DE: We will create a program targeted exclusively to identify, develop and place African Americans in our industry. We represent about 1% of all designers in my industry and I NEED to change that. Other programs will be focused on high school students and a global online program to increase our international reach. I do not have a complacent personality so I am always trying to grow and get better.


3 – This partnership will more than likely result in the increase of brand awareness for PENSOLE – is expansion of the current facility, to accommodate an influx of students, part of the strategy? 

DE: Yes, we will first increase our staff so we can be in a better position for growth. With that employee growth, we will need more space. So, yes, we will be growing A LOT over the next two years. I see us easily doubling our staff and square footage.


4 – One can already imagine the impact Foot Locker will have on PENSOLE. But there are two parties involved that share common interest. What impact do you think PENSOLE will have on Foot Locker, Inc. with this partnership? 

DE: Good point. I believe we allow Foot Locker to speak to their consumers in a new way, which will naturally lead to increased brand loyalty and sales. We also allow Foot Locker to have a solid foundation of how they can give back and encourage the next generation to make an impact on our industry and eventually their company as well. Foot Locker already does some great things, but we just help them create a closer consumer connection.


5 – Design is no laughing matter and PENSOLE has always meant serious business to the industry and those 400 plus graduates – what is your future vision for PENSOLE? 

DE: To redefine education! Yes, that is a big goal but that is what drives me. Education in its current form is broken, and it needs to change, and I would rather lead by example than complain.


½ – What book have you read recently? DE: I have read this book about 50 times and it never gets old: Rules of the Red Rubber Ball, by Kevin Carroll.

Rules of The Red Rubber Ball

Tanita Gray

Editor-In-Chief, Publisher and Founder of, and CEO of Shoes Waste. Gray is a footwear, accessory and apparel designer/developer by day - writer and content architect by night. With over 17 years of experience in the fashion industry, you can find her teaching sustainability classes, drawing thumbnails, writing in her journal, giving her husband & children enormous hugs, or eating french fries.

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