Nice Kicks

Local Fashion Mogul Teams with Nike for Limited-Edition Shoe Line

Jennifer Ford, the woman behind Houston’s Premium Goods, created her own custom Air Force 1 designs.

By Shelby Stewart February 16, 2023

Jennifer Ford of Premium Goods, released her own custom Air Forces 1s. 

Image: Team Diaego

As hip-hop has grown in popularity over the decades, so too have many of the trends that were born alongside it. Streetwear and shoe culture in particular have become billion-dollar industries, with legions of fans lining up around city blocks for days to get hot new releases. Today, top artists like Cardi B, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, and Eminem, to name just a few, have lucrative shoe deals from the likes of Reebok, Nike, Adidas, and others. 

Houston's sneaker culture has long existed in small pockets throughout the city, and over the years has grown steadily despite the fact that early on, in the 2000s, there weren't many boutique stores in Texas to find the latest shoes. Instead, shoe stores like Foot Locker, Champs, and Finish Line lived primarily as chains in malls. However, when Jennifer Ford opened Premium Goods in Houston in 2004, that landscape changed. "When I opened the store in 2004, the sneaker community in Houston existed," Ford explained, "but it was more of an underground scene."

For almost 20 years, Ford has cultivated a sneaker community in Houston, and just last month, she debuted her custom-designed Premium Goods Air Force 1 in collaboration with Nike. The partnership allowed Ford to produce two versions of the shoe, the Sophia and the Bella, both sold in-store and on the SNKRS app.

The designs are a manifestation of Ford's creativity, and familial ties are intertwined into the fabric, both literally and figuratively. When developing the shoe concepts, Ford pondered how she could best represent Premium Goods and the city of Houston.

"I went into my closet, because that seems to be the source of me," Ford said. "I walked around and looked for pieces in my closet that really meant something to me. Things I was excited to wear seasonally. I looked for pieces of jewelry I liked, and just different objects, and it came down to seed beads."

Ford's use of beads was familiar. Before opening Premium Goods, she had a career in luxury jewelry. The beading draws on her past work with gems and jewels and serves as a nod to indigenous artisans who created eclectic designs with seed beads. 

"My heritage is Creole, and one thing Creoles are known for is our gumbo,” Ford said. “Gumbo is made with three key ingredients, but after that, it's just a mixture of things that are savory and helps to make it better," Ford said. "This same process was done in designing our Air Force 1. I took all the key ingredients of the things in my life, whether it be my experience in the jewelry industry, my love for luxury, or just little pieces of my family, to create this beautiful shoe." 

The "Sophia."

Image: Team Diaego

The Sophia shoe is named after Ford's first-born daughter. She used seed beads as the medium to showcase her Creole roots, along with leather stitching. Her daughter is Afro-Latina, so the colorway on the Sophia combines black and brown, to represent how the two ethnic and racial communities have maintained strong ties in the Houston area. 

"I wanted the person wearing this shoe to get a sense of luxury,” Ford said. “The soft leather and quilt stitching is something you would typically see on a Chanel bag. Then there's a little touch of red at the bottom because every lady loves a red bottom."

The "Bella."

Image: Team Diaego

The Bella was named after Ford's niece and follows the same seed bead design pattern, utilizing vibrant colors atop the signature Nike swoosh. The colorway, a creamy off-white, indicates innocence and inner beauty. Bella's father was tragically killed a month before Ford began working with Nike, so this was her opportunity to make her niece smile. "Naming this shoe after her was a way for me to tell Bella that she is loved and will be okay," Ford said.

For an extra special touch, the tongues on both shoes have the Premium Goods logo as a nod to Ford and her Houston ties. As an entrepreneur and a woman of color, Ford's efforts can't be understated. The sneaker market is currently valued at $79 billion and growing. Stakes are high for new shoe drops, and Premium Goods is a direct competitor to online marketplaces such as GOAT and StockX

But Ford and Premium Goods have managed to stand the tests of time. Nestled in Rice Village, Premium Goods, over time, has become a bastion for the sneaker community, with Ford blazing a path as one of the few women of color to own and operate a boutique store. Premium Goods has built a longstanding reputation for carrying popular shoes and clothes from brands like New Balance, Adidas, and Nike. 

Over the 20 years that Premium Goods has been in business, Ford has managed to maintain a mutual respect and understanding within the Houston community as one of the few—and consistently reliable—shoe stores in the city. "I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to design a women's Air Force 1. Being one of the few sneaker boutique owners in the country allowed me that. I think there's a general love for the store and respect for how hard the struggle is for female entrepreneurs," Ford said. 

That struggle has not gone unnoticed. At the shoe's official launch, Ford was awarded a proclamation from Mayor Sylvester Turner, which she considers an honor of the highest regard. "Houston is my home,” Ford said. “I was born and raised here, so being honored by our mayor is a privilege. We will not take this honor lightly. We hope to use this special day annually to give back to our city. After all, it has given so much to us.”

For the sneaker's official launch party, Ford partnered with DIAGEO to bring her speakeasy vision to life. "I'm so grateful to DIAGEO and its brands for their continued partnership and support in bringing our vision of a Speakeasy Lounge to life for the launch of our first collaboration with Nike AF1. It's an honor to be the first Black Woman-owned business out of Houston to have the opportunity to collab with such a legacy brand, and it was essential for us to pay tribute to Black women. I identify myself as a pioneer in the sneaker fashion world, the same way these women pioneered these businesses."

Premium Goods is located at 2416 Times Blvd. To purchase, visit

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