As a Women-Owned and operated business, we pride ourselves on highlighting like-minded Women in the industry who are doing great things to grow their own companies and shine light on areas where Women are under represented.
Join us as we start our new initiative to give these Women our platform with our new series W.I.S.H. (Women In Sneakers Highlight), and to begin our journey during Women's History Month, we'll be highlighting Simran Kaleka & Melani Carter: the dynamic duo co-founders of Made For The W, a media and lifestyle platform that elevates the parallel powers of women’s sports + sneaker culture.
Amplifying the voices of Women athletes ranging from grassroots to the professional level of traditional sports, Made For The W is a platform made for the Modern Sneakerhead. Recognizing that there's a strong push for the Women's sneaker market, one of their main goals is continuing to help it grow.
They've created a market for the earlier and more recent audiences to engage with their favorite athletes in a more connected way, providing exclusive access to all players and sneaker culture.
We got the chance to chat with the amazing Women behind this culture-shifting platform about all things Made For The W:
Tell us about Made for the W, what made you want to start it, and why?
With us having both been in the sports realm for 10+ years, we know the lack of visibility that was present when it came to women in sports. To further elevate that, we tapped into the shared space of sneaker culture, to really showcase women who are making a difference in the intersectionality of both sports and sneakers. That’s why in early 2018, we decided to make our own table, instead of waiting for a seat at one, to be able to have a foundation rooted in the culture, that was organic, transparent, and elevated, where you felt seen, heard, and valued, as a fellow woman, in these spaces. It’s pivotal to pave a path where the narrative is focusing on what matters, and when it came to women in sports, be it, on and off the court, it was time to help people connect and relate to them, where so many amazing stories had been untold.
What were some of the challenges you faced along the way?
Our challenges are rooted in just not having the backing of a lucrative corporation. To build something so special from the ground up, with just us, our strategy, our work, investing personal money and resources, and for it to become as big as it is, is a blessing. Yet, when it comes to furthering our vision with executing content, and for it to be elevated the way that it deserves to, it is difficult to get the same opportunities, so we just have to stay locked in, until our impact meets deserved acknowledgment.
"The ability to adapt and show that our original ideas and creative concepts separated us from what’s real compared to what’s trending, is what builds longevity and sustainability."
Are there women in the business you look up to for guidance, mentorship, inspiration, etc.?
Surely there are, from up close and afar. We’re constantly inspired by surrounding
women who are creating change and making space, in their respective industries.
Were there aspects of the business that you felt you weren’t taken as seriously?
Definitely. Just being a black and brown owned entity gave some an excuse to go down more diluted paths when it came to pitches and campaigns, just based on optics and safety nets. Yet, we believe pivoting became our superpower, and not allowing the status quo to become our ceiling, is what helped us break it. The ability to adapt and show that our original ideas and creative concepts separated us from what’s real compared to what’s trending, is what builds longevity and sustainability. It comes down to making sure you never distort your vision to fit into a box, but instead, making others feel your purpose, as you break out of it.
Knowing that Made for W is built off the sports world, what can you tell us about your perspective on Women in sports media?
MFTW was curated to create a space for women in sports media. The lanes are
endless, and the work is infinite, yet who was there to highlight it? The approach had to be unique, as traditional ways weren’t working. That’s what led to our conception in 2018. Before the renewed interest in women's sports, we recognized the void, and chose to fill it. It’s imperative you have women, who help shape the narrative, tell the stories, tap into what’s important, in order to humanize women in sports - be it in front or behind the scenes. The visibility is not only necessary, but also inspiring to those who aspire to occupy those spaces in the sports realm one day.
What are your thoughts on WNBA being more vocal about salaries, contract deals and compensation?
The obvious speaks volumes, and it rings true…there is so much more for them to do. It’s not just about increasing it from bare minimum but elevating it to the point that it’s equal. Hard to celebrate the small wins when these players are deserving of far more. Like Drake said, “I want it all, half was never the agreement.” So, why should it be enough for these women? The access, funds, and means to make the changes are all there, and yet, they remain the same. It’s an unfortunate reality that we’re still having to discuss this. The cop outs and excuses run out eventually. Where the bag at?
What is the goal for you, for your company, for your impact/legacy?
To say that we were a part of making a change that was real, instead of performative gestures and clickbait, that transcends social media, retweets, merchandise, and likes. The process is anything but easy, yet knowing we contributed towards a space that will remain beyond MFTW and others, is what leaving a legacy symbolizes to us.
Do you feel like women have made a difference in “balancing the scales”?
We feel that women have more than enough of an advantage to influence the sports and sneaker game. In the past, it may have seemed that we were looking to play catch up. Yet, we’ve been taking up the space and being the change - now it’s just being showcased. The access and exposure we’re allowing ourselves, is what has made the difference, but as far as balancing the scales, a woman’s magic has been apparent.
Outside of your business, what are you into?
Sim: Helping athletes and creatives hone in on their power to live their purpose out loud, moves me to continue to create spaces that assist in that. Also, I love to travel! Experiencing different cultures, cuisines, ethnicities, and environments, is priceless.
Mel: Continuing to create and produce sports content, but also, I truly love attending concerts. I’m excited that this year, we’ll finally be able to fully enjoy them again!
"Most moves are made with a woman contributing to that process, and we want to continue to tap into that process that many don’t know or see."
What do you want young Women behind you to learn that you wish you would have known as a young teen/adult?
Sim: If I could speak to my younger self, I’d tell her to not let the outside noise limit you and what you can do. Making your own rules will get you further than following old ones. Digging deep to what moves you and building something true to you is something no one can ever take from you. Just know there’s always room to learn – no matter how foreign and unknown it can be. Greatness exists outside of all these limits!
Mel: I would want them to learn to bet on themselves no matter what by believing in their ability to create their own reality that is rooted in their dreams. Many times we allow our surroundings to dictate our timeline, but you were given that vision for a reason and it's on you to carry it out. You got this!
What’s next for Made for W?
Just focusing on the core of MFTW, which is solely the culture, and what that
organically means. Creating experiences, inspiring engagement, cultivating content, sharing stories and sustaining a safe space for creatives in these realms to thrive in all their strengths. We want to continue bridging the gap between the intersection of sneakers and sports and contribute to leveling the playing field when it comes to opportunities, relevance, and visibility. Most moves are made with a woman contributing to that process, and we want to continue to tap into that process that many don’t know or see.