Bios for the eight finalists in the World Sneaker Championship.

August 16, 2014

Learn more about the eight finalists in the World Sneaker Championship (click here to see their designs):


Zia Ahmad | Pakistan

Although I was born and raised in the United States, my parents are from Pakistan. I received a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from San Jose State University and I am currently working towards an MFA in industrial design at Academy Art University.

I’ve been interested in footwear from a very young age. I believe footwear is one of the few products that resides at the intersection of style, problem solving, creativity, art and technology.

My short-term goal is to be a footwear designer in the sports and performance apparel industry. My long-term goal is to earn comfortable compensation through creativity.

Sara Jaramillo | Colombia

I am a Colombian fashion designer living in New York.

With my studies in fashion design, I could tell the power that fashion has in people. The understanding of human’s desires in an anthropological way made me understand that mainly accessories have created and still awakes an amazing desire and status in society. Because of this I decided to study an accessories design master course in Italy. Now I am interning at the fashion company Proenza Schouler, which has been one of the most enriching experiences for my career because of the way they understand and approach fashion.

Having a background as a sportswoman, an artist mother and a huge medical influence from my family made me develop my own style mixing the functional understanding of human body with sportswear design.

Jesus Gerate | Mexico

Born in Brownsville, Texas, and raised in Mexico, I grew with a passion for soccer; this pushed me to create an interest in sports brands and soccer cleats. I liked shoes since a young age, but I didn't realize I wanted to design them until I saw the Nike Mercurial Vapor III and IV. Watching Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring goals with those boots inspired me to look into the world of footwear design.

Having a passion for drawing and wanting to design shoes help me get a place at the Industrial Design program at the University of Houston. I just finished my third year. I enjoy designing different kind of products in college, but now I’m happy that I got a chance to be part of the PENSOLE family and the opportunity to have a closer look into the footwear industry. I’m thrilled by the fact that I’m going to be working with students from all around the world; I hope I get to learn something new out of each one of my classmates.

My goal in this industry is to create products that can make a difference on the pitch and street, timeless designs.

Jonathan Guisbert | USA

I was born and raised in New York City. Grew up playing soccer and basketball and having a love for sport and fashion. Coming from a lower-income background, I wanted to ensure I would always be able to support my family, so I pursued a business degree with a double major in law and accounting. I became a CPA, and after some time in public accounting, I realized life would be empty if I was not able to follow what I was passionate about. After some soul searching, I decided to pursue footwear design, which combined my love for sport and my creative, problem-solving mentality. I quit my job and transitioned into a finance position with a major athletic footwear and apparel company. In order to gain further knowledge about this industry, I decided I would move to Portland in order to learn from this creative hub and home to numerous footwear brands. I now continue to learn the financial aspect of the footwear industry and I have also enrolled part time at the art institute in the industrial design program. It has taken a few years for me to develop my creative skills through night classes, online research and countless nights of sketching till my hand hurt. Thankfully, I was accepted into this competition and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Daniel Raes | USA

I was born and raised in a small town in Iowa. I became interested in footwear thanks to a brand new pair of Adidas Superstars in the sixth grade. From then on, I knew what I was going to do: design footwear. I got a job at Footlocker to soak up as much information about footwear and consumer needs as I could. I used my discount for what I like to call "design research" by adding as many shoes to my collection as possible. In 2009, I was accepted into Iowa State University; and in 2010, I was accepted into the first Industrial design class in the new program. I was one of 19 students in the first class and was able to take advantage of new facilities and a flexible curriculum. I graduated in May 2013 and recently moved to Portland to increase opportunities to land a footwear design job at a company here.

Elizabeth Steenwyk | USA

I began studying architecture in the Fall of 2012 and it took one black hole of a semester to realize I wasn't passionate about it. At all. This realization caused me to change my major five times (Three of which happened in one summer and I never actually took classes for.) before accidentally stumbling across, discovering Industrial Design and switching into ID courses for Fall of 2013.

Throughout the past year I have fallen in love with the design process and the opportunity to weave a story through product. The added bonus of continuous learning and creativity just sealed the deal and I am happily still an Industrial Design major. In my first year, I had the opportunity to work on everything from a hydration project to a car wheel, but some of my favorite projects were the short footwear projects that a fellow classmate pushed me to do and I think that's really what led me to Pensole! I'm looking forward to gleaning as much as I can from the class to take back to school with me this coming year.

Stefan Cristobal | Philippines

I'm a son of immigrant parents from the Philippines and France, but I'm proud to have been raised on the West Coast of the United States.

At the end of spring, I finished by BFA in Product Design at the University of Oregon.

Footwear design has been my passion for as long as I can remember. It combines my love of problem solving, athletics, and art. In the future, I hope to work and teach internationally.

Danny Chambers | USA

Born and raised in rural Ohio, I started drawing shoes in second grade and haven't stopped. I attend the University of Cincinnati, Class of '17. My goal is to become a proficient designer in all disciplines; fashion, industrial and graphic. At WSC, I hope to rekindle my love for sketching shoes and immerse myself in great conversation and collaboration.

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