It all started with a pair of all-white Air Force Ones — the first pair of sneakers Melissa Carnegie recalls wanting. Every Saturday morning she’d clean them with a toothbrush and soap.
Today, Carnegie owns Kicks & Fros, an online space she created in 2017 to help women find their sneaker style. She recently rented office space at Camp North End.
Kicks and Fros was birthed from Carnegie’s time as a content creator and blogger. Her content focused on beauty, fashion and personal style – including her sneaker collection of 120 pairs.
“I was receiving a lot of messages from women asking how do they find their sneaker style,” Carnegie recalled. “I thought it would be cool to start up an inspiration kind of Instagram page to share fashionable sneaker inspiration for women, because I felt like we could be comfortable and fly at the same time.”
Why it matters: Citing data from various research firms, Forbes.com reported that global sneaker sales were on pace to hit $66.3 billion in 2021, and that number was projected to top $100 billion by 2025, with women “reclaiming closet space and their mantle as shoe connoisseurs” in the male-dominated sneaker market.
Carnegie said Kicks and Fros wants to “empower, elevate, inspire and educate.”
Carnegie said she shares client insights with global brands such as Nike and Adidas. She also sells some sneaker-related merchandise and uses the website to connect Black and brown women in the sneaker space.
“When it comes to the sneaker community, I feel like…Black women are often overlooked and undervalued,” she said, “even though we brought so much to the sneaker culture.”
Carnegie said she chose to open her office at Camp North End because she wanted to join the “Camp Fam” and be near other Black creatives there, such as Dupp & Swat, Blk Market and FITTEDS.
How do you help women find their sneaker style?
First, you want to figure out what her day-to-day is. What does she like doing? What kind of comfort level is she looking for? I’ll say that’s where you start. A lot of women get overwhelmed because they feel like they need to have the latest and greatest, the most expensive Air Jordan that came out, and it’s all sold out everywhere. It doesn’t have to start like that. You can start building your first collection at outlet stores like Nike, Reebok, and Adidas.
How did Kick and Fros look in the beginning?
I didn’t have time for it; it was just the idea that kept popping into my head. I was a blogger, so I was focused on you know, being a content creator. When women reached out to me about sneakers, the idea of Kicks and Fros came into my mind. Fros meaning Black women. I thought I’d just start an Instagram page and that would be the end of it. Then I started receiving emails from clothing and shoe brands and women wanting sneaker styling advice.
It’s been five years now. So coming to an office space where we’re able to host meetings or have pop-ups and connect with women and women able to meet us in person has been a dream.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
I’m all about sisterhood. So if I can provide a community and a sisterhood and provide a seat at the table for women who feel like they’re out of place or they don’t know how they fit in, that’s probably the most fulfilling part. When women message me and email me saying that they love the brand, that keeps me going.
I feel like women, especially Black and Brown women, bring a lot of that flair to fashion when it comes to sneakers. Not being recognized is not right. So if I have to provide that platform and be that voice and make sure that women in this space are being recognized for all the amazing work that they’re doing when it comes to the sneaker community, I’m happy to be that.
How do you empower, educate and inspire?
We have a live series that we do on Instagram called Sneaker Files Live, where we interview women who are sneaker designers and other content creators. We even interview therapists that love sneakers and have a connection with them we interview them. We have a real conversation because these sneakers bring us together.