Sally Javadi is Writing Her Own Blueprint
Sally Javadi may have kicked off Sallys Sneakers mostly anonymously, but even then, she always championed women’s representation and equality in the industry. It was roughly a year ago that she made the executive decision to reveal her face, eventually finding herself on the path of full-time content creation. Amidst this, Javadi opened up her platform to be about more than just sneakers, combining her different facets as an Iranian-Danish collector and creative and positioning herself as an advocate for women’s rights and freedom in Iran. We had the chance to catch up with Sally for our ‘Taking Control of Their Narrative’ series. Check it out below.
‘How women are taking control of their narrative in the sneaker industry’ is a theme we’ve been focusing on. As someone actively doing this, what does it mean to you?
Women in sneakers are really doing their thing at the moment (and have been for a while). It feels empowering to see more women in the scene be recognised and have their stories told. However, it is important for me to stress that we’re not at the end goal yet. I still think we need to see more female collaborations, more women in higher positions, and more women being listened to. I feel like there’s a long way until we’re at our end goal, but to me personally, it’s been so important getting out there and telling my story – most importantly for my community and for the younger generation following me. It’s important for me to come across as authentic and real and as a good role model.
Women need to be celebrated every day – not just on International Women’s Day or in March. With a focus on women in sneakers, what are some of the ways people can show their support all year round?
I agree! You took the words right out of my mouth. I think there are some general points. Firstly, inclusive sizing. It’s tiring and demotivating being a girl with small feet (especially in Europe) as often sneakers aren’t released in our size, and if they are, it’s mainly in the US or Asia only. This means resell prices get ridiculous, and no normal-wage human will be able to afford to go to the resell market every other day to pay double what everyone else is. I know this is a problem for some men with big feet too. So please just be more inclusive with sizing; the community has been asking for way too long.
Another one is to put more women in the spotlight. In the past, I’ve seen some women’s releases where campaigns have been done with male models. I think that’s a big no-go. Either you don’t separate men’s and women’s releases as you do, or when you do it, just do it right.
We also need to put more BIPOC women on the spot. There are so many ethnically diverse people in the scene that carry many cultures and values. And there isn’t just one country in the Middle East that represents us all – all countries represent their own beauty. With all the use of paisley for the past two years, I personally feel very overlooked as an ethnic minority in the space as I don’t recall one brand who has even bothered telling where paisley (Boteh pattern) is culturally rooted.
All in all – let us feel we matter. There’s a tendency to a negative discourse towards women in the space. We’re constantly having our knowledge tested and being put under a loop. The other day, someone commented on a video of mine wanting proof of me wearing sneakers as a kid for me to show I’m a real sneakerhead – which I find extremely wrong. The bullying has to stop – and not everyone is privileged enough to grow up wearing fresh Nikes and Jordans, lol. Just be respectful to everyone.
Over the past months, you’ve been using your platform to represent your advocacy for women’s freedom and rights in Iran. How has this strengthened your community?,
To be completely honest, it’s been tough and heartwarming at the same time. As someone who has a main US and Europe following and not the biggest Iranian community behind me, I haven’t had too much engagement on my Iran awareness posts, and I’ve felt ‘punished’ by the unfollows and hardships it has come with. However, many people who follow and support me – my core community – have been so kind to let me know that they’re proud of me for sharing information, and I’ve been told numerous times they would have never known what’s going on in Iran right now if it wasn’t for me. This is what makes everything I do worth it.
Do you think more people in the sneaker space should consider using their platforms to talk about crucial world issues?
I definitely believe so. I think if they did, the world would become a better place. However, I do not judge or pressure anyone to do so, as I know it’s a hard line. Often the algorithm doesn’t push ‘political’ content but, instead, shadow bans you. I had a very personal story about Iran I shared as a post, and it was flagged by Instagram as ‘misleading/wrongful information’. Immediately, my visibility went down. When it’s your full-time job – which it is for me – and your income depends on it, it’s always a risk.
You’ve also been working on your own brand. Can we expect it to launch in the near future?
Oh yes. I’ve had some unfortunate setbacks both financially, mentally and creatively. I recently lost a friend, a young 22-year-old Iranian girl who was a role model to me, especially with her strength in spreading awareness about Iran. It really put everything in perspective and made me realise I often forget to enjoy life and not work so hard – because life is fragile and time is precious.