Debra Antoinette Edwards, the founder of DAE Collection, worked in fashion for 15 years – first as fashion journalist in Jamaica, and then in fashion marketing in New York City.
DAE, a sustainably made, ethical sandals company, was never in the plans for Debra.
“I moved back to Jamaica two years ago after my father died. I saw a need for something different. One night I started sketching sandals,” she shares. The brand was birthed quickly from there.
Conscious of her carbon footprint, Debra decided to make handmade sandals, mostly with repurposed materials – namely leather scraps and goat skin. “I decided that if I was going back into fashion, the brand had to have depth,” she reflects. “I love fashion. I love people. I want to know that when I leave this Earth, I will have left it better than when I came.”
While DAE only just launched in September 2019, the brand has been met with immediate fanfare, media buzz and an influx of sales.
Aside from its eco-friendly design, DAE has also given a portion of its sales to charitable projects such as Eve for Life – a nonprofit in Jamaica that supports women and children living with HIV.
The brand also pays homage to its Jamaican heritage. The De La Vega sandal, for example, is named after Debra’s mother’s Spanish Town roots.
While DAE was originally conceptualized as a sandals company, due to the pandemic Debra has pivoted to incorporate other offerings that are more in tune with its customer’s current needs.
“We have to be nimble. I’ve begun to evolve the brand to reflect the new normal. We have been selling masks, but we’ll be branching out into other products to appeal to people who are at home more. We don’t want to be tone deaf, and not be empathetic,” she says.
Empathy, passion, purpose and also, planet – words that suitably summarize the powerful depth of DAE Collection.
Visit DAE Collection online
All photos are contributed.