• Heather Knudsen

Part I: Sneakers TogetHER

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

A love for sneakers brings people together from every corner of the globe. No matter where you live, sneakers create a universal bond. In the current climate, solidarity cultivated from a collective passion for shoes is a welcome reprieve. From my own personal experience, I've met some of the most amazing women through our mutual love of sneakers. This journey inspired me to create a campaign called, "Sneakers TogetHER" that features women who inspire, elevate and empower everyone around them.

I asked some of the women who inspire me to share a little bit about themselves and what the sneaker community means to them. Here are their stories.

Judy Wright Portland, OR

Sneaker Artist. Sneakerhead. Hooper. Originally from the east coast (NY) currently residing in Portland. You see sneakers, I see canvases ♥️🎨🖌️👟 Follow Judy on Instagram: @sq_customs

What does the sneaker community mean to you?

"My love of sneakers has always been tied to my love of basketball. I've been playing since I was 5. Basketball has taken me places I never thought I'd go. My love of both basketball and sneakers led me directly into my late in life love affair with sneaker art. Now, as a sneaker artist I am able to collaborate with fellow female hoopers/sneakerheads. I have had the pleasure of working with so many amazing women in the WNBA and NCAA, which kind of brings my story full circle."

Tori Shalea Houston, TX A Hair and LifeSTYLIST, who rediscovered my love for sneakers...through my minimalism journey. For’s tied more to comfort, style, and self-expression. I remember only having a couple of pair of “hype” sneakers in high school as we couldn’t always afford it... so it never was a big thing for me as I went through college. I had some chucks, Air forces and a few others here and there but I thought post college ... heels were the “adult “thing to do. Funny how it all comes full circle because my true style and personality has always been more tomboy-chic. Simple living and self-actualization have brought sneakers back to the forefront of my shoe choices, keeping my collection small but intentional. Follow Tori on Instagram: @Torishalea

What does the sneaker community mean to you?

"It’s like sitting with the cool kids at lunch, while being your most authentic self. I love how there’s no boundaries and no matter how enthused you are... from 3 pairs to 100... you’re welcomed!"

Monica Nevi Tacoma, WA

Monica Nevi is a native of the Pacific Northwest, having grown up 20 minutes south of Seattle. Her’s is the classic story of basketball player turned standup comedian. Monica performs as an international headliner in clubs, festivals and now socially distanced backyards everywhere! She created, produced and hosts the documentary series on Amazon Prime Video called ‘80 For 80.’ She has been seen on FOX’s nationally syndicated Laughs TV Show as well as ESPN’s Sports Center. Podcaster, writer, comedian. No matter where she is performing or recording, the sneakers stays consistent. Follow Monica on Instagram @monicanevi

What does the sneaker community mean to you?

"I love the sneaker community because it is so connected to basketball culture that I feel a little bit like I have a team again. The thing I miss most about being an athlete. It’s fun, it’s new and I genuinely feel excited for the other people on my sneaker team"

Yasmin Kovacs

Melbourne, Australia

I'm a sneaker collector from Melbourne, Australia. I fell in love with sneakers in high school when the Nike Air Max 90 first came out, and have been collecting ever since I could buy my own pairs. Follow Yasi @yasi_loves_kicks

What does the sneaker community mean to you?

"I've been collecting sneakers for years, but only discovered the community aspect of it in the last 7 years, by joining groups on Facebook and more recently, starting up my Instagram profile. About 4 years ago, I started my own female only sneaker group on Facebook called, "Sole Queens", and met so many amazing females from around Australia who loved collecting as much as I did. Once I decided to join Instagram, I started meeting women from all over the world! To me, the sneaker community means unity, love, passion, dedication, and support. We all come together to share our passion as one. It's like one big family!"

Ro California

StrEAT Contemporary Food Artist, Originator of sushi kicks.

Follow Ro on Instagram @eatlikeyoureondeathrow__

What does the sneaker community mean to you?

"The sneaker community has evolved a lot and it made events that used to cater mainly to the male population embraced females that have the same passion towards the aesthetics of the kicks and this same enthusiasm has been an ice breaker for girls to embrace each other and their common interest."

Dee Sydney, Australia

Hey, I'm Dee and grew up in Sydney, Australia, originally from Egypt. As a young kid, I was always kind of a tomboy and I definitely expressed that through my clothing (gotta credit my mum for putting up with my screaming fits anytime I had to wear a dress for an event). Growing up with an older brother I was heavily influenced by him, I listened to all the same music he did which was mostly rap and hip hop and that definitely had a big part to play in my love for kicks and streetwear in general. 

When I was in high school I mostly rocked what all the other kids were wearing such as etnies, Adidas superstars etc. and it was mostly about just being comfortable. It was when I got my first job and started earning money that's when the real collecting started, and my interest grew into a passion. Follow Dee on Instagram: @peepdeezsneaks

What does the sneaker community mean to you?

"Over the last 13 years I've been collecting kicks, but through my love for sneakers I've been able to connect with so many people on a much deeper level than just shoes. I have other interests including photography & editing, traveling (31 countries and counting) and of course connecting with my sneaker fam, and I'm grateful that my sneaker page has allowed me to combine these in one place. I've created amazing long time friendships with people all over the world (both virtually and in person) that simply started off with our mutual love of sneakers. The sneaker community for me is a safe space, a creative outlet and a supportive environment and for that I am so grateful to be part of and be inspired by it everyday."

Cassidy Houston, TX

I’m from Houston, Texas and while I work as a Strategic HR Business Partner by day, my love for sneakers is still a huge part of my daily life.  Being the Managing Editor for CNK Daily has been a blessing and connected the dots to why I fell in love with sneakers in the first place. The freedom of self-expression and sense of community. CNK is a platform that serves as a voice to empower, elevate, and educate women within the sneaker/streetwear space. Being able to work in this creative space has bridged the gap to help others and show my children that the sky is not the limit, just the view.

Follow Cassidy on Instagram: @cassidyw83

T.J Keasal Indianapolis

TJ, better known as Talks with TJ on Instagram and YouTube, brings a fresh and unique approach to sneaker focused content. Her life is a genuine mix of fitness, kicks and styling fits, but she also educates young adults how to budget their income. Life is about more than just kicks, which is why she encourages people to enjoy today's sneaker release while planning for tomorrow's responsibilities.

Follow T.J. on Instagram:

What does the sneaker community mean to you?

"The sneaker community is a collection of human stories because we each are a living story that is unfinished. We write new chapters each day when we chase our aspirations, opportunities and live creatively. Sneakers tell stories with colorways, material and what inspired them. This community allows me to connect with the stories of other women and their affinity for a certain pair of sneakers adjoins our stories. A single pair of sneakers can spark an endless conversation that tells our life stories via leather, canvas, suede, etc."

Heather Knudsen Washington State

Born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (Go Hawks & Storm!) Heather is a digital creative, who loves to unleash her creativity with all things sneakers. Heather has over 10 years of marketing and merchandising experience in professional sports, fashion, and the outdoor industry. Follow Heather on Instagram @heathhhyk

"Sports and fashion have always been a big part of me. My love for sneakers started when I got my first pair of basketball shoes (Air Penny II, for anyone wondering.) I always had to have my favorite players shoes. I loved Penny Hardaway, MJ, Allen Iverson, and Shaq growing up. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) started in 1997 and I was able to finally get a pair of Cynthia Cooper's, Nike Air Max Shake ‘Em Up!

What does the sneaker community mean to you?

The sneaker community is more than sneakers, it's about unity, love and supporting one another. I remember coming across Dee's (@peepdeezsneaks) page and was in awe of her photography and style, she definitely was one that inspired me to show my love for sneakers to the world. I am grateful to have met so many amazing women through sneakers, who continue to inspire me to create and always welcome me with open arms. Being part of projects like this, makes it even more fun. It's incredible what we can create together!"

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