What comes to mind when you hear the word sneakerhead?
Probably a stylish guy, surrounded by the latest kicks with athletic brands clamoring to work with him, right?
That preconceived notion is exactly what Ticara Devone Davis is aiming to change. The Chicago-based influencer has built a career from her love of sneakers…or “gym shoes” as they are affectionately referred to in the midwest. Although sneaker culture has largely been an all-boy’s club, that’s quickly shifting due to women like Davis who are claiming their position in the heavily homogeneous space.
“Sneaker culture is normally associated with men, so I think about what it means being a woman in this space a lot,” Davis said. “Then also being a Black woman, that’s another wall I have to climb because as an influencer, you automatically don’t get paid as much as your non-Black peers,” she said acknowledging the pervasive racial and gender wealth gap that most Black women have to face. Davis also pointed out another glaring issue that poses challenges to growth in the space: colorism.
“You already have to break through those other innate barriers, then when a Black woman is finally featured in a sneaker ad, she’s racially ambiguous—typically light skin with long, curly hair. You don’t see my kind of Black prominently displayed often, with a bob, gold chains on and just authentically being herself. We’re finally starting to get there a bit. But that wasn’t a thing.”
Although the sneaker industry is heavily reliant on influencer culture, with Nike and adidas included in the top 20 performing brands generating almost $3 billion in Instagram Earned Media Value in 2018, Black women aren’t among the top-billed influencer group.
Although she’s keenly aware of the disparity, that hasn’t stopped Davis from pursuing her spot among her peers, like Aleli May and Vashtie Kola who have been among the most influential and successful women in the sector.
However, Davis said they’re not the competition at all. Men are.
“My aim is to get what the guys are getting,” she explained. “They’re getting the shows— The men are on Complex—they got the sneaker releases on Cameo. They have all these other little facets you don’t really see being offered to women. It’s really unfair because we’re here and there’s an untapped market brands aren’t paying enough attention to.”
Fortunately, though, they’re looking at her. As a Nike ambassador, she’s been tapped to collaborate with the Jordan brand and frequently work with Footlocker to create content campaigns. Although these opportunities may look like they fell into her lap, it was her consistency and grit that led to her being a darling for the brands.
Starting out as a writer, Davis contributed to popular website CNK Daily (Chick N Kicks) for more than four years, and ran different iterations of her own blog for nearly 10 years.
She says she sharpened her content creator chops through those early experiences.
“I’ve always remained consistent and produced high-quality content no matter what stage of my career I was in—this is something I’m truly passionate about and I hope it inspires others to pursue what they want relentlessly. It’ll happen for you.”
Now more than a decade into it, she says she knows her worth and adds tax. Although she still works part-time freelance for a creative agency as a content consultant, her influencer income alone collectively pushed her well into the six-figure range.
“In one month, I’d say I made what someone earned in a year—but don’t get it confused, content creator checks are different. Don’t solely rely only on them to provide consistent income. There’s nothing wrong with having a job,” she smartly advises.
“My passion has always been to inspire those aiming to chase their dreams—let my story be living proof that you can get what you want on your own terms.”