Ahriana Edwards on turning her frustration into a business

Ahriana Edwards, Founder & CEO of Vaila Shoes (Photos: Supplied)

Ahriana Edwards noticed that the fashion industry has made strides in plus-size apparel, but there was still a gap within the plus-size footwear market (specifically dress shoes) that needed to be addressed. In 2022, Ahriana founded the Vaila Shoes where she provides women of forgotten shoe sizes (size 9-14) with access to modern dress shoe options that they desire and deserve. Vaila utilizes the trends of today to create a seasonal dress shoe line designed for the workplace and after-hours. In this interview with BUKZONE, Ahriana shares her passion for Vaila and the fashion industry. Excerpts

The Inspiration

The deciding factor to pursue this passion of mine came at a time where the world’s chaos was at an all time high, but my vision became clear as day. Why should myself and women alike have to struggle to find quality heels that fit comfortably? Let alone – attractive? The short answer is that we shouldn’t. After I realized that I possessed everything needed to produce a brand that catered to women with extended shoe sizes and then some, I got to work.

It was clear, I needed to create a Vaila to give us aVAILAbility. I had the vision, the concept, and the reasoning behind the brand I wanted to build for us. I had the foundation and the support from hundreds of women to prove that this concept needed to exist. All I had to do then was find the funding to begin transforming from a vision to a business.

The Goal

My goal with Vaila Shoes is to build the brand into the go-to place for women with extended shoe sizes to depend on for quality heels. To cater to women who want to show up and own every room she walks in. To provide inclusivity and space for women who deserve just as much catering as anyone else. We’re bringing your feminine power back through the power of shoes. Vaila is on a mission to achieve extended size inclusivity in the footwear space and help women look good while doing it. 

The Birth

The idea for Vaila Shoes came from the exhaustion of never being able to find my shoe size in quality high heels. I am someone who has always had a larger foot than the average woman and for years it has left me feeling left out, frustrated, and baffled. I felt left out because the most fashionable shoes rarely came in my size. Frustrated because why shouldn’t my size be catered to just as much as smaller sizes? Baffled in the way that fashion has begun to evolve into being inclusive, but has yet to address the issue it is to find fashionable and great quality heels in extended shoe sizes.

Also Read: Navvi Arudem is redefining the African gaming culture

Aside from her business, she has a background in Business Entrepreneurship at Fayetteville State University and a certificate at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Footwear. She professionally held several sales and marketing roles with industry leaders such as Toyota, Nestle, and Facebook while also serving on the board of the Women’s Business Center of Fayetteville and mentoring with the Future Founder Entrepreneurship Junior Program. 

At her core, Ahriana is motivated by creating a generational legacy and aims to use her innovative mindset and creativity to create a social impact for the undervalued, underestimated, and underrepresented.

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