D’Wayne Edwards, with no formal education, started his career in 1989 as an entry-level footwear designer for LA Gear at the age of 19. Over the course of his career, which now spans over three decades, he has received numerous honors and awards, from the Red Dot award, three-time Mercedes Benz Fashion award winner, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Business Insider 100 People Transforming Business to President Barack Obama awarding him the President’s Volunteer of Service Award.

As a designer, Dr. Edwards has accumulated more than 50 patents and designed more than 500 footwear styles for premier entertainers such as Tupac, Notorious B.I.G, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog and Nas. His designs have been worn in six different Olympics, and have graced all MLB, NFL and NBA stadiums by athletes such as Derek Jeter, Carmelo Anthony and Michael Jordan.

In 2010, Edwards began his journey as an educator by establishing the first academy in the U.S. dedicated to footwear design, PENSOLE.

PENSOLE quickly became the preeminent footwear design school in the world by securing partnerships with the industry’s top footwear brands and retailers. PENSOLE has placed more than 700 former alums in positions working professionally for some of today’s top brands: Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Brooks, Vans, Puma, Timberland, The North Face, JORDAN, Zenga, and others globally.

As an educator, Dr. Edwards has taught and lectured at some of the premiere schools in the world, from ArtCenter in Pasadena, CA; Parsons in New York; MIT in Boston, MA; Kolding Design School in Kolding Denmark; Harvard in Boston, MA; and as a speaker at the Clinton Global Conference.

In 2019, with no formal education, ArtCenter College of Design recognized his career as a designer and educator by awarding him an Honorary Doctorate degree, making him the fourth person in ArtCenter’s 90-year history to receive this honor.

Dr. Edwards is known as one of the leading experts on diversity in design by his peers. He has created a network of more than 600 Black and Brown designers across all design industries through the creation of an annual conference called the Black Footwear Forum. His work around diversity has led to honors such as the Footwear News Icon award, IDSA Special Achievement Award, Footwear Plus Lifetime Achievement Award, and he’s been recognized as one of the Most Influential People in the Sneaker Industry by COMPLEX.

Today, after such a storied career, D’Wayne has achieved a personal career goal of opening the first Black-owned footwear factory in the United States, called JEMS. Named after a Black shoemaking pioneer, Jan Ernst Matzeliger, this footwear factory will provide young, aspiring Black designers an opportunity to create their own brands and see them come to fruition.

The most meaningful work of D’Wayne’s career is becoming the President of Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit, MI. Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design will be the first design- focused HBCU and also the first HBCU to reopen. It has also been recognized by Fast Company as one of the most innovative design companies in the world.

Since 1989, Dr. D’Wayne Edwards’ mission has been to leave the industry better than when he entered it and to make the conversation around diversity…no longer a conversation.