Growing up, people are always told that if you keep grinding and don’t give up, you will accomplish your goals. There are many business owners who are walking testimonies of that. One example is Ahriana Edwards. She founded a size-inclusive footwear brand and now the brand will be featured in one of the world’s largest department stores.

In only one year after launching, the footwear brand has made quite a name for itself. Valia Shoes was created because Edwards realized there was a lack of size inclusion from other existing brands. Her shoes reach those who wear a size 9-14, which many brands tend to overlook.

“There’s no credit that I can give to anyone else except for the man up above,” the founder wrote in a post on Instagram. “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.”

The Journey To Put Size-Inclusive Footwear On The Map

In an interview with Afrotech, Edwards discussed the footwear brand’s journey.

“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. 2021 was imperative because it was the time being where individuals truly saw how underfunded Black founders were, ” she explained. “Although I didn’t have any product in market yet, I took that opportunity and ran with it.”

Vaila Shoes has raised $80,000 in non-dilutive funding. Before she even had a physical product on the market, Edwards pitched her brand in over 20 business competitions. She participated in business accelerators with notable organizations such as Black Ambition by Pharrell Williams, Future Founders, and Techstars to get Vaila’s foundation built before launching.

“That $80,000 in non-dilutive capital was able to sustain me through my entire first year of business — and that’s something that I’m proud of,” she continued.

In just a short time, Edwards’ business has expanded into five Macy’s locations. Her work reached New York City, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

“It took a lot of grit to be a 23-year-old founder pulling off this six-figure contract. I experienced the most difficulty raising funding for this partnership, but I kept persisting and doing whatever it took to make it work.”

Get Your Hands On A Pair

Associate Shoe Buyer at Macy’s, Grace Jacobson, told Afrotech she was so impressed by Edwards’ dedication to her brand that she just had to get the company on store shelves.

“Ahriana is so inspiring creating a business that will help others feel their best having shoes that will support their shoe size that currently isn’t supported much in the marketplace. I also admired how Ahriana is showing that regardless of your age, you can still be able to make a change in this world and to just start.”

If you’re looking to purchase a pair of Vaila Shoes, look no further! Here are some of the best picks straight from Macy’s.

This classy flat shoe is perfect to wear in the office as well as after work drinks. The embellished ankle straps bring a striking sparkle to the pointed-toe silhouette that keeps you looking elegant and comfortable.

If you want something flat but less dainty, the classic loafer from Vaila is your go-to. The footwear brand’s touch on a classic loafer will leave you in awe. The alligator skin design with the metallic buckle gives you a look of style and class while keeping things strictly business.

If you’re looking for a good pump, look no further. The Michelle heel is your go-to. This classic heel not only provides a stylish addition to your fit, but it’s made with you in mind. It is engineered with a thicker heel base, spacious toe boxes, and insoles. This makes the shoe more comfortable for women with a larger foot structure.

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