Foot Locker wants to elevate its presence and brand impact among women—and designer and entrepreneur Melody Ehsani is stepping up to the challenge as the company’s new women’s creative director.
Throughout her career running her own retail brand ME and collaborating on multiple Nike, Jordan, and Reebok sneakers, Ehsani has established herself as a trailblazer in the streetwear community, not just for her sharp eye for design, but also for centering her work on empowering women.
“Everybody here has a purpose, and everybody has a different vehicle they use to serve humanity,” Ehsani says. “Design just happens to be the way I get there.”
In 2012, Ehsani became the first woman to own a store on Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles’s heralded shopping strip, creating a trendy shop, yes—but also a frequent hangout for local high school girls. During the release of one of her Jordan collaborations, Ehsani realized people were using bots to buy sneakers in order to then resell them. Ehsani and her team refunded thousands of orders and spent two weeks selling the sneakers directly to real customers via Instagram.
Someone recently asked Ehsani why she doesn’t sell her apparel and jewelry at a higher price point. “They didn’t realize they were trying to separate me from what I do,” Ehsani says. “I would make things for free if I could. The community I’m inspired to serve are young people that can’t yet afford [luxury items], but they still want to be cool and they still want something that was carefully designed.”
And Ehsani is bringing that energy to her new role at Foot Locker.
“This is a beautiful opportunity because it allows me to make cool products and democratize them through Foot Locker’s channels,” she says.
Among Ehsani’s responsibilities are designing apparel capsule collections, curating Nike and Jordan products, and rethinking marketing strategies.
“There’s been a disconnect between what companies think women want in terms of sneakers and what they actually want,” she says. “So I think it’ll be valuable having an actual woman there to help move that.”
Ehsani is actually the first to occupy this role, which she applauds Foot Locker for creating.
“It’s letting me know that larger companies are actually starting to invest in women versus just paying lip service,” she says. “A lot of companies that are predominantly in male markets don’t really put a lot of capital behind investing in their women’s market, because they don’t know if it’s worth it. So the fact that [Foot Locker] even carved out this role and they’re investing resources behind it is kind of cool.”
That said, Ehsani recognizes the potential growing pains that could come with a newly minted position.
“It’s difficult being the first of something because there isn’t a path there. You’re in the woods with a machete creating one,” Ehsani says. “I’m not worried. It’s more like how far are they going to let me go with this thing because it’s the first time for everyone. Either way, it’s a privilege to be in the position, because if I’m only able to do so much, I know whoever will come after me will be able to do so much more.”