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Etu Evans

Fashion designer and entrepeneur Etu Evans was born on February 2, 1969 in Orangeburg, South Carolina though he spent much of his youth with his family in Harlem and Queens, New York. His mother Rosa was an educator, who helped Evans overcome a learning disability and eventually excel in school. Evans started his first business, in flower arranging, at the age of six. By the time he was thirteen, he began showing interest in fashion and interior design. Evans attended South Carolina State University, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in social work in 1992.

Evans established the design company Etu Evans, LLC in 1993, focusing on jewelry and hats. However, he continued a career outside of fashion and in 1996, earned his M.S. degree in applied behavioral science from Columbia University, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. Evans moved to Europe, where he worked in Italy and France as a behavioral therapist. In a chance meeting on the streets of Paris, Evans met the publicist for Gucci, and decided to leave his job in order to focus on design.

The scope of Etu Evans, LLC has broadened to include accessories and, especially, shoes. Evans became known for his fashion forward footwear designs, which have been worn by celebrities including Tyra Banks, Halle Berry, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, Beyoncé Knowles, Danny Glover and Chris Tucker. His work has been featured at New York’s Fashion Week and covered in a broad range of international fashion magazines.

In 1998, Evans founded the Solesville Foundation. This organization collects, repairs, and redistributes new and used shoes and is frequently cited for the effectiveness it had during the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, Louisiana. Solesville also coordinated a youth AIDS walk and a shoe repair apprenticeship program for underprivileged youth. Evans’s philanthropic efforts have earned him the Burger King Everyday Heroes National Campaign Honor and the “Citizen of the Year” award from his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and the National Association of Social Workers. Etu was also chosen by Ebony magazine as one of its “30 Leaders of the Future.”

Etu Evans was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 30, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.243

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/30/2007

Last Name

Evans

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

Marshall Elementary School

Brookdale Elem

Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School

South Carolina State University

Columbia University

Fashion Institute of Technology

Parsons School of Design

First Name

Etu

Birth City, State, Country

Orangeburg

HM ID

EVA03

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Since Greatness Is Achievable, Then Excellence Is Not An Option.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/2/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Broccoli

Short Description

Fashion designer Etu Evans (1969 - ) designed shoes for celebrities including Erykah Badu, Halle Berry and Beyonce Knowles. He was also the founder of Solesville: Etu Evans Foundation.

Employment

Columbia University

Delete

Institute of Youth Entrepreneurship

Etu Evans, LLC.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508215">Tape: 1 Slating of Etu Evans' interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508216">Tape: 1 Etu Evans lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508217">Tape: 1 Etu Evans describes his mother's family background and personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508218">Tape: 1 Etu Evans describes his father's personality and profession</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508219">Tape: 1 Etu Evans talks about his paternal grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508220">Tape: 1 Etu Evans remembers his paternal grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508221">Tape: 1 Etu Evans describes his early fashion influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508222">Tape: 1 Etu Evans talks about the significance of footwear in the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508223">Tape: 1 Etu Evans talks about his early memories and entrepreneurship</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508224">Tape: 1 Etu Evans remembers celebrating the holidays</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508225">Tape: 1 Etu Evans lists his siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508226">Tape: 1 Etu Evans describes his community in Orangeburg, South Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508227">Tape: 2 Etu Evans describes the sights and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508228">Tape: 2 Etu Evans talks about his learning disability</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508229">Tape: 2 Etu Evans remembers Brookdale Middle School in Orangeburg, South Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508230">Tape: 2 Etu Evans remembers his parents' divorce</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508231">Tape: 2 Etu Evans talks about his early business ventures</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508232">Tape: 2 Etu Evans recalls developing his taste for luxury fashions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508233">Tape: 2 Etu Evans talks about his interest in interior design</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508234">Tape: 2 Etu Evans remembers visiting his relatives in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508235">Tape: 2 Etu Evans remembers South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, South Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508236">Tape: 2 Etu Evans recalls his introduction to social work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508237">Tape: 2 Etu Evans describes his religious influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508238">Tape: 2 Etu Evans talks about mental health in the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508239">Tape: 2 Etu Evans talks about the history of footwear</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508240">Tape: 2 Etu Evans talks about the process of making shoes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508241">Tape: 3 Etu Evans remembers establishing Etu Evans, LLC</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508242">Tape: 3 Etu Evans recalls opening Sole Kitchen in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508243">Tape: 3 Etu Evans remembers his admission to Columbia University in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508244">Tape: 3 Etu Evans describes his graduate studies at Columbia University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508245">Tape: 3 Etu Evans remembers the Parsons School of Design in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508246">Tape: 3 Etu Evans recalls transferring to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508247">Tape: 3 Etu Evans describes his work as a behavioral therapist</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508248">Tape: 3 Etu Evans describes his start in the footwear design industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508249">Tape: 3 Etu Evans talks about his celebrity clientele</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508250">Tape: 3 Etu Evans describes his coursework at the Fashion Institute of Technology</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508251">Tape: 4 Etu Evans recalls his peers at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508252">Tape: 4 Etu Evans recalls working with the Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508253">Tape: 4 Etu Evans talks about the Solesville: Etu Evans Foundation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508254">Tape: 4 Etu Evans talks about the value of quality footwear</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508255">Tape: 4 Etu Evans shares two of his shoe designs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508256">Tape: 4 Etu Evans talks about teaching at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508257">Tape: 4 Etu Evans talks about his reputation as a shoe designer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508258">Tape: 4 Etu Evans talks about the invention of the shoe lasting machine</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508259">Tape: 4 Etu Evans lists his awards and honors</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508260">Tape: 4 Etu Evans describes his public speaking career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508261">Tape: 4 Etu Evans talks about his perspective on religion</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508262">Tape: 4 Etu Evans talks about the next generation of shoe designers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508263">Tape: 4 Etu Evans describes his plans for the future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508264">Tape: 4 Etu Evans reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/508265">Tape: 5 Etu Evans narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Etu Evans describes his early fashion influences
Etu Evans shares two of his shoe designs
Transcript
And then, your father [Frederick Evans, Jr.], how would you describe your father if you had to describe him (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Gregarious, very outgoing, very talented printer, everyone comes to him for his printing services. And when I look at all of his pictures, very sophisticated dresser for his--for the times.$$What, what kind of elements were included in your father's style?$$He had a--I remember a picture of him in high school with a white dinner jacket on, some really nicely tailored black slacks, a great black bowtie, kind of sleek European in its silhouette, and a red carnation. Great mock neck sweaters, he just had impeccable taste.$$And what about your mother [Rosa Johnson Evans]. Was she fashionable?$$My mother is (laughter) fashionable and anything that has color in it, it has her name on it. I had to actually a few years ago pull her back from the metallic. I said, "Mom, we're not doing--that's no longer the trend, need to let that go," and I gave her some neutral pointier shoes. But she loves fashion$$And then, of course, your grandmother [Queen Esther Evans] you said is still wearing stilettos--$$Yes (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) can you just describe her fashion for us a bit?$$Yes, well, my mom borrows my grandmother's shoes still to date. She's very fashion forward when it comes to shoes, very pointy, very feminine. And she would sit me on her canopy bed--first of all her room is the ultimate jewelry chest.$$This is your grandmother?$$Yes. It's a treasure chest, it's congested but it's certainly purposeful (laughter). The shoeboxes connected like trains around the top of the ceiling, there are beads of every color cascading off of the dresser, and in another corner there is a, a some archtectrical high-rise of hats, so she loves fashion. Everywhere you move you see something to wear.$$And so did you get an opportunity to observe your grandmother dressing and--$$That's how I got into shoes (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) do you think that influenced your--$$Absolutely, she would sit me in her emporium of fashion and she would say, "Etu [HistoryMaker Etu Evans], what shoes should I wear?" And then I would always select the shoes that she should wear to church. And then I began--that's probably why I'm in behaviorism, 'cause I believe kids become who they are before they're age seven, that's just my personal philosophy, based on what they are exposed to. So, she would sit me on that, on that canopy bed and then I noticed that her body would change, so then I moved from you should wear that shoe or I like that toe or I like this bow to what's making your body change. And I realized the magic of shoes, and ever since then I was smitten, I began tearing my grandfather's shoes apart, running around through the house wearing his shoes. And I discovered how to take his dress shoe and, if I took the sole off of it, it became a driving shoe so that's really what--$$So (simultaneous)--$$--(Simultaneous) sparked my interest.$We were just talking about how a shoe is made and how it makes you feel, can you show us a couple of shoes and talk about the construction (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Absolutely. Impeccable construction, well made last, Italian last, and then this shoe, actually, this is one of the samples that I started working on. I wanted to kind of like when you're saying does she--she loves me, she loves me not, that's where this is inspired from the petals when you pull them apart. And I've discovered that once I completed this shoe design that she would love me. We've gotten a lot of love for this design, so this is one of the designs that I've been playing with in the factory, and just playing with different heels. We've done it without this, in patent leather in the back and metal. And this one, the feminine fanfare continues, you know, with grosgrain ribbon over suede and a lattice of bows, which I think is very sexy and sophisticated, a wider heel.$$And are you doing anything for the person who needs extreme arch support or for people who need a wider shoe, or support in the heel? Some of your common--$$I would say what we are doing is that with what I've found rather is that many women come to us to have their boots spliced because they have trouble particularly in the Latino and the African American community with the calves. So what I've decided to do in my line is I'm creating what I call equity girls, who are larger in size. So you can have the special ordered boot in particular where you have the calf you won't have those problems (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So the shoe can come up high.$$Yes, that seems to be a major problem. We haven't had many problems with shoes not fitting.$$So people are quite comfortable.