words // Nick DePaula:
For Clyde Edwards, it was only a matter of time for his fusion of passion and insight to be recognized.
A self starter in every way, it was a decade ago in 2009 that he first got his start, by launching his very own YouTube account and video channel at the forefront of the “sneaker review” era, dubbed Inside The Sneakerbox. Keep in mind, Instagram hadn’t even launched yet, and Twitter was only in its infancy. Even before YouTube, he toyed around with a Myspace page.
His username — “Sneakerbox Clyde” — became a great case study in self-promotion, but it was the content, storytelling and first peeks across his blog and vlogs that kept people tuning in. A solo effort, it didn’t take long for Clyde to get invites to brand launches and unveil events, and lobs from PR folks across the industry of upcoming launches and samples.
The invites and access heading his way was because of the quality of work he was putting out, sure, but he was also simply a great dude that could make instant connections. Every step of the way, Clyde defined what it meant to build a personal brand, long before the term “influencer” had even become oft-used lingo in marketing meetings.
Today, Clyde is running those meetings.
As the Senior Marketing Manager at Puma, Edwards helps to lead the surging brand’s cross category teams on its energy collaboration launches, many event activations and how those products and efforts can come to life across social media. It’s a role he’s been working towards all this time; a sponge of marketing, branding, and storytelling at all times.
After building his Inside The Sneakerbox platform up in a short span, the Miami-based creative was contacted by a nearby hometown boutique. Just two weeks later, he left his then-full time job at Comcast to manage inventory buying, store marketing and the launch of social media accounts for the Mr. R Sports store. Before long, he was managing the store’s entire staff and helping to launch its new concept boutique.
Since joining Puma in 2016, the brand has ramped up its lifestyle, women’s and basketball businesses, with more tangible events and activations, centered around memorable experiences, discussions and interactions. It’s a key distinction that Clyde always looks to layer into Puma’s efforts, and an ongoing focus of his ahead. There’s also the added bonus that he shares his name with the brand’s most iconic sneaker, of course.
As part of the Pensole x Nice Kicks FUTURE 50, Edwards is looking to shape the future of the athletic industry through his insistence on hard work, his love for wearable product and an eye for impactful storytelling that can impact change. Read ahead for more from Clyde on his journey through the industry, as he answers a series of questions from Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards.
Hometown: Miami, FL
Job Title: Senior Marketing Manager
Company: Puma North America
Location: Boston, MA
Education: Florida International University
D’Wayne Edwards: What is your earliest or most memorable sneaker moment in your life?
Clyde Edwards: My earliest sneaker memory would have to be back in 1989; when my Dad got me my first pair of Reebok Pump OGs from Marshalls. Up until that point, I had worn mostly XJ900s, Payless or sneakers from the local Tom McAn. I do have rough memories of a pair of blue suede Jordache sneakers that I absolutely loved. Those were the days. We just wore what we liked. There wasn’t any social media, hypebeasts or bullies.
What are you most passionate about in footwear?
The Storytelling. Being able to create a consumer facing space that tells a color story, a design concept or that simply gives the end consumer an experience is what I love to do. The tangible-in-real-life moments are what I’m passionate about.
What was the turning point of your career?
In my career so far, I’ve hit several personal milestones. There’s working on my first collaboration; with Lacoste in 2016 and going on to join Puma later that same year. I’d have to say my career turning point would have to be when Jose Raij (Mr. R) of Mr R Sports asked me how much I was making back when I was running Inside The Sneakerbox and working at Comcast. It was then that I knew things were going to change for both my career; and life. He obviously saw something in me; and gave me an amazing opportunity.
What is your biggest struggle with the footwear industry as a person of color?
My biggest struggles are in the past. Fair pay, recognition and value of talent were hard to gain. Today, my struggle is mental. As a person of color, I don’t have the privilege that most have. I have internal worries and battles all the time. I can’t afford to fail. I feel as if I have to work twice as hard and be twice as loud to make sure I’m heard and seen.
What is your biggest accomplishment or legacy you’d like to leave in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment is getting to where I am now. I’m happy, successful, healthy, taking care of my family, and doing what I love. I get to tell experiential stories with sneakers for a living. That’s crazy to me. My legacy will be that I connected and helped people. I gave people things to talk about and remember. I used my gifts to create opportunity; and never put myself first.
Read more about THE FUTURE 50 here: NiceKicks.com/Future50