It’s looking like just the beginning as Allyson Felix is not finished just yet.
Earlier this month, Felix — the most decorated track athlete in history — graced the field for the final time. Although her decision to retire was not easy, she looks forward to championing her legacy off the field in what she calls her “next great challenge.”
In an exclusive interview with AfroTech, Felix affirms why she believes it was time to step away.
“I felt so fulfilled throughout my career. It has been difficult to step away just because I am so passionate. I love competing so much, but I also knew that it was the right time. I knew that I wanted to move toward other things that I was passionate about as well,” Felix said. “I think it’ll be challenging since I don’t have that. I think there is a sense of loss, because the thing that I’ve spent the last 20 years doing, I’ll miss it, but I’m also excited to fulfill that area with other work that I’m interested in doing.”
One of those areas of fulfillment for Felix is her footwear brand Saysh, launched in June of 2021. The venture was created for women and by women and considers all facets of life including motherhood.
Saysh was important for Felix to spearhead as she learned firsthand from her exit with Nike in 2017, that even one of the most popular apparel companies failed to prop up pregnant female athletes and new mothers.
Felix then went on to work with Athleta, before making the brave decision to create a solution empowering all women while setting a new industry standard through Saysh just two years later. We see Felix’s commitment resonate through Saysh’s maternity returns policy that gives expectant mothers a free shoe.
“I feel like Saysh is my next great challenge. I’m so excited about all the things that we have coming up. We have a performance shoe coming next year and it’s just been incredible to work with our teams because it’s about so much more than just shoes. It is about standing with women and not having women as an afterthought,” Felix said.
She continued: “As we thoughtfully create our products — we think about all the ways that we can better support women through our maternity returns policy, offering women shoes once their feet changed sizes due to pregnancy, and just trying to push the industry in that direction. Also, just our collective, our community, and learning from each other and offering our members things that better themselves. So, I’m really excited about that and just growing the business.”
Felix’s dedication to Saysh speaks volumes. Despite her growing popularity over the years for her evident talent in track and field, she hopes her legacy piece will be Saysh.
“I hope that leaving the sport, [I’m] leaving it better than I found it, but then I hope that with Saysh, that’s my legacy piece,” Felix explained. “Creating something for women that I don’t feel existed in the world before and the way that it should have. And I hope that it changes things because it is about a bigger purpose and a bigger meaning. And when I see people, wearing the shoes, I feel like they’re deciding to stand with women.”
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Felix's Next Chapter
Not only is Felix focused on leading her brand, but she also believes in using her position to invest in other founders that share similar values and are working to become a driver of change.
Some of her most recent investments include Yumi, an organic baby food brand, and leading media platform, Just Women’s Sports. As AfroTech previously told you, Felix joined the $6 million funding round to endorse diverse representation in media.
“It’s really the values that are most important. Do I align with them? Is this something I can be proud of? And also, [me] focusing on representation as I do make certain investments like giving founders an opportunity that hasn’t had one before. I think so many people are capable, but they are not always in that position to be able to have success,” Felix said.
Felix's Partnership With Clorox
Felix shares similar sentiments as it pertains to her partnerships.
Most recently, the track star teamed up with Clorox, just in time for the back-to-school season. The collaboration will educate parents on preventing “the spread of illness-causing germs on surfaces,” according to a press release.
“I’m proud to partner with Clorox. As a mom that wears a lot of different hats, I know how busy back-to-school season is, and it’s also the kickoff to cold and flu season. So, just being able to help parents kind of shine a light on the products that they have that help your child to have an unstoppable year is important to me. And I know how much my life has been affected by my daughter when she gets sick and has to stay home from school,” Felix said.
She continued: “And then what was interesting to me was this study that Clorox did that showed that millennial parents of color are disproportionally affected by children having illnesses, having to miss out on work, and having to take unpaid leave. So, that’s an area that I was interested in and wanting to provide help.”