Allyson Felix has made a name for herself in Olympic sports and business. Coming on the professional track scene in 2004, she has established a name for herself as a humble professional and businesswoman with solid core values.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Allyson began her professional athletic career early. By 18, she had already earned a silver medal in the women’s 200-meter sprint at the Athens Olympics.
Today, she is the most decorated track and field athlete. A 5 time Olympian with 11 Olympic medals under her belt, Allyson has carved out a lane for herself and the many women she inspires with her athletic and entrepreneurial prowess.
Disrespected by Nike, Allyson Felix Fights Back
Allyson held sponsorship and endorsement deals with Adidas and Nike throughout her career. As a result, she was one of the most marketed athletes in Nike’s history. However, after going through a difficult pregnancy, she would discover that her sponsor to whom she was loyal, did not have fair practices surrounding maternity protections. This experience was a cause Allyson was prepared and determined to fight.
Black Olympian Fights for Maternity Protections
Giving birth to her daughter in 2018 was a life-threatening experience for the successful athlete. Experiencing pre-eclampsia, a condition that disproportionately affects black mothers, she had an emergency c-section eight weeks early.
As a result, she gave birth to her daughter Camryn who weighed only 3 lbs. This experience would be the catalyst for the fight she would encounter as a fierce advocate for the rights of athlete moms and females in general.
Following the expiry of her contract in 2017, Nike wanted to pay Allyson 70 percent less in her sponsorship deal than they did before her pregnancy. Shocked and disappointed, Ms. Felix publicly shared her experience, drawing awareness to female athletes’ unfair realities in the male-dominated sports industry.
As a result of her advocacy, Felix was able to inspire other female athletes to speak out about the unfair experiences they have had. In doing so, Nike was forced to change its maternity policy for all its athletes in August 2019. In addition, the enhanced maternity protections guarantee pay and bonuses for 18 months around pregnancy. Other athletic apparel companies have since followed suit.
Olympian Secures New Apparel Deal with Gap Inc.
Despite having no sponsorship representation during her last national championship appearance in 2019, Allyson forged ahead and boldly chose to overcome one of the biggest obstacles in her career. She realigned herself with an athletic brand that she believed shared her core values. As a result, she entered into a sponsorship deal with Athleta (owned by Gap Inc.) to sponsor her apparel. This deal made her the first sponsored athlete under the brand.
Felix’s Multi-Million Dollar Footwear Brand
Determined to continue making an impact for women, Allyson Felix successfully launched her female-focused shoe brand, Saysh, in 2019. Saysh’s core mission is “to undermine inequality with female athleticism and creativity.”
In May 2022, the brand successfully secured a multimillion-dollar deal in a round of funding that will enable them to expand its product offerings. The investment will help further the cause to design and offer shoes designed especially for women’s feet. The company will also be able to provide more maternity protections to its workers, increase its e-commerce presence, and expand its wholesale distribution.
When Nike tried to take her seat at their table, Allyson Felix chose to build her boardroom. Kudos to this fearless champ!