D’Wayne Edwards is the founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy. “PENSOLE’s ‘learn by doing’ curriculum teaches students the entire footwear design process.”
This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Edwards, one of the youngest design directors in Nike’s history and a man whose designs have sold more than $1 billion worldwide, shares about planting seeds, dreaming bigger, and about discovering your ‘why.’
Dreaming Made Simple: What is your professional dream, and how has it evolved?
D'Wayne Edwards: I’ve honestly achieved almost all of my professional goals. I am more focused on my goals as an educator, and the first one is to make you forget I ever designed shoes. Not that I want to discount my previous life, but if I can get people to talk to me as an educator, that means I am doing something right if it overshadows my past.
My new focus is not about designing the next great shoe but designing lives that will design the next great shoe.
I see myself as more of a farmer, planting seeds across the industry that will make the industry better than when I entered it. My dream is for PENSOLE to be the best academy in the world!
Dreaming Made Simple: You let go of your dream job at Brand Jordan for an uncertain future pursuing a new passion at PENSOLE. What convinced you to set your former dream aside, and what has been the result?
D'Wayne Edwards: I have had several dreams and am proud to say I have accomplished several of them, but I never had just one. I set daily goals. Those goals are attached to dreams, and once I achieve one, I move onto my next one. Ironically, working at JORDAN was not a dream of mine because I was not dreaming big enough. Once I was blessed to work at JORDAN, that taught me to dream bigger. If a poor, African-American kid from Inglewood, who could not afford to go to college for design, still reached the top spot in the athletic industry, I realized, if I put my mind to it, I could achieve anything. So to me, why can't a kid with no college education start a school that does not exist, in an industry that is $68 billion...?
Dreaming Made Simple: How does someone keep dreams and passions alive, even when it’s not immediately possible to live them out?
D'Wayne Edwards: First, people need to discover what their dreams are.
Most people don't dream. Dreams are FREE, and there should be no limits on them.
As people we put limits on ourselves, and when we do that, we never discover or realize our full potential. Mark Twain has a quote that says "There are two important dates in our life: One, the day we were born; and two, the day we discover why." I did not discover why until I was in my late thirties. I thought it was to be a top footwear designer who designed for the greatest athletes in the world, for the best brand in the world. But I was wrong... It was to become a designer so I could help others reach the same level of success I was able to achieve, and then for them to help others the same way I helped them.
Most of the time the only thing keeping people from keeping their dreams alive is they don't know WHY they are living....