Before leaving Ghana and coming to America, Ken Gwira was already a wood sculpturer. A taste of his paintings and sculptures are online. However, he has since taken one of his carvings, “Woman Is Key” to new heights by placing images of it on outerwear including his just released Woman is Key slip-on sneaker.
“Woman is Key was created in 1981,” he says, “and is a message about encouragement. There is a woman out there who needs this message told to her: She can do it!”
Gwira traces getting into the sneaker business to 2016 while watching Jamaican Usain Bolt’s success at the Olympics. Bolt inspired him to create a painting with sneakers on a race track.
Sometime later, the fashion designer Virgil Abloh offered to mentor people who were interested in fashion. “I followed his posts trying to get his frame of mind,” recalls Gwira. Then, in 2021 he saw an online ad that offered artists an opportunity to design custom made shoes manufactured in Italy to showcase their brand. “It was like a dream come true,” says the married father of three and several grandchildren.