Imagine being at the top of your game yet you find yourself fighting for support. This was once the case for Allyson Felix — the most decorated U.S. Olympic Track woman athlete.
The story about how the retired track champion parted ways with Nike after speaking out on its previous failure to protect and support pregnant women athletes has become well known. As previously reported by AfroTech, Felix wrote an open letter to advocate for maternal protection after being told by Nike to “know her place.”
While Felix’s bravery was in turn a catalyst for the footwear giant to change its policies, there was a point in time when she found herself at a standstill.
During an interview on UNINTERRUPTED’s “The Shop,” Felix recalled how ending her partnership with Nike affected her ability to secure a sponsor.
“When I found myself without a footwear sponsor, I had, at the point, been to four Olympics — a six-time Olympic champion — but I couldn’t find a sponsor,” Felix shared on “The Shop.” “And I was just exhausted and tired of begging.”
“Most [companies] would not offer,” she added.
Felix believes the lack of sponsors was due to her former relationship with Nike and their fallout, as well as being a new mom at the time.
“I think I was at a place in my career where I think brands saw, it was kind of like it was done, you know? At that point, I had just become a mother and all these things, and so it was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna bet on myself. I’m gonna do this myself,’” she said.
Felix took the underestimation as fuel to embark on a different venture — creating her own shoe. The intent behind launching Saysh went from her being able to have shoes to wear to the Olympics to a full-fledged movement for a better future for women. As previously reported by AfroTech, Felix’s footwear brand is made specifically for women’s feet.
In 2022, Saysh raised an $8 million Series A funding round to create more sneaker and footwear collections and scale its own e-commerce and wholesale distribution.