by Kweli Wright
Women are known to love shoes — and many dream of taking that passion and starting their own lines. But it takes a certain kind of woman to do her research, find a niche and bring these coveted accessories to market. Fortunately, Ashja Jones, the founder of Takera Shoes is making it happen.
As a star of the WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun, Jones has a choice of many shoes to wear and many designers to choose from…or so one would think, but as much as she loves great shoes, they haven’t always loved her back.
“Shoes have always been an issue for me,” Jones admits. “I wear a size 13, and I’ve been that size since I was 12 years old… so I’ve had an issue all my life where I have needed shoes for different occasions.” Not only did Jones have difficulty finding shoes that fit her, she also found that size 13 didn’t always mean stylish. “You have a lot of players squeezing their feet into shoes that are too small and wearing whatever they can find,” she says. “It’s a huge deal for women also outside of the basketball field, there are women who can’t find shoes that look and feel great.”
Jones didn’t have any formal fashion or design training, but that didn’t stop her from launching Takera Shoes (taken after her middle name), a footwear line which caters to women sizes 10.5 to 15. Her first collection launches this month and has already been initially previewed at last years’ WNBA All star event at the Mohegan Sun and was largely recognized by many of the leagues bests, as well as WNBA president Donna Orender.
In 2010, Jones partnered with Final IV Enterprises, a black owned, operated and financed apparel and footwear company based in Atlanta, GA. “At some point you get sick and tired of it and I decided to do something about it,” Jones says. She’s involved in every step of the line from creating to designing and selling the footwear. “It’s important for me to be involved in every aspect of the shoe. I have a hand in deciding if I want to pick trends, styles, colors, because I’m the one with the big foot! If I don’t feel a show will look good in a yellow, then I can say no to that.”
For Takera Shoes, Jones says she wanted her line to be the whole package and satisfy everything that she felt was missing from shoe brands that catered to a woman with a larger foot size. “I wanted them to be top of the line shoes, made with the best materials and I want them to be comfortable,” Jones says enthusiastically. “I wanted different styles and to be able to have fun with their shoes and I think that’s what Takera Shoes has turned out to be.”
The collection will include heels for launch with plans for a full line of footwear — flats, boots, booties and athletic shoes — come Fall 2011. “We’ll have something for everybody,” Jones says. The shoes range from $185-$240.
Besides being stylish, comfort was key in developing the shoes which Jones says feature a special technology they call Angel Tech where there are special cushions at the ball of the foot and heel for extra comfort.
Jones says having a business degree made her that more prepared for all the decisions that have to be made for Takera Shoes, but the company is also about a labor of love. “I’ve been searching for another thing to get involved in besides basketball, and the best option was to start my own business.”