Kam Ballard, founder and CEO of b.c.e. Custom Shoes, a Black-owned multi-million-dollar shoe company that is breaking barriers to become a household name. Her company has been approved to make shoes for two major SEC schools, the University of Alabama and Auburn University. She has also received approval for Jackson State University, Tennessee State University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Initially, Kam’s company only catered to the Greek organizations within the Divine 9, but now she is tackling the collegiate arena. At press, she is awaiting the decision from Howard University and Alabama A&M, and her ultimate goal is to one day make shoes for the NBA and NFL.
b.c.e. Custom Shoes was initially started to subsidize her income to pay for her children’s college education. In 2019, when she launched the company, she only had one child in college. In 2023, she will have three. Kam comments, “I have a senior in college majoring in Civil Engineering. A sophomore in college that is majoring in Biology with her end goal being a neo-natal surgeon. I have a senior in high school that wants to study oncology and an 8-year-old that hasn’t decided what she wants to be yet. The goal is for them to have financial freedom when they graduate college. Student loans shouldn’t be one of their worries.”
When asked how many African American female-owned companies make shoes for SEC colleges, Kam’s response is she doesn’t know and that she is too focused on her own lane to research it. She comments, “You can’t run your race, efficiently and effectively, looking around or looking back. It will slow you down. I don’t know if I’m the first or the tenth female-minority-owned company in this arena, but after they wear my shoes, I will be their last stop.”
Kam’s shoes could be competition for the shoe giants such as Nike and Under Armor. When asked does she feel pressure to live up to those standards, Ballard’s response is “I set my own standards. The amount of pressure that I put on myself to be great, will always surpass the amount of pressure that anyone else could place on me. My motivation is to build a legacy for my children. My company makes not only athletic shoes but also stylish heels for women and loafers for men. Imagine walking into a business meeting in a three-piece suit with the Alabama logo on your genuine leather shoes. Or standing before the President, at the White House, in your genuine leather 3-inch heels with JSU debossed on the side of them. Also, some of our shoes are custom-made when purchased, so my clients have a choice in the design of their shoes. I know that sets me apart from the rest. With that being said, in this arena, I will gladly accept the role of David amongst the giants.”