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How Olympian Allyson Felix Built Her Own Multi-Million Dollar Shoe Brand

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.

Allyson Felix

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.

Allyson Felix

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.

Allyson Felix

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!

Tony O. Lawson


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Naomi Osaka Becomes First Professional Woman Athlete To Open Her Own Sports Agency

Four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka has announced that she is launching her own sports agency, Evolve.

naomi osaka

“I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn’t what was expected or traditional,” Osaka said in an email. “Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as both an athlete and businesswoman, as well as a way to continue being myself and doing things my way.”

Osaka’s contract with IMG expired at the end of 2021, and as she explored a renewal with more flexibility in the kind of partnerships she could do, it became clear a renewal was not going to work.

Osaka started Evolve with her agent Stuart Duguid, who has also left IMG. Both will hold equity stakes in Evolve. There are no outside investors at this point.

The move isn’t unprecedented for athletes, though it’s rare.

LeBron James started LRMR for his marketing work in 2006 and entrusted close friend Rich Paul with his on-court contracts, while Maverick Carter handled business off the court.

Kevin Durant and Rich Kleinman founded Thirty Five Ventures in 2016 to operate the business of the four-time scoring champion.

However, Naomi Osaka is the first female athlete at that level to take full control of her business endeavors and attempt to build an agency.

In a recent statement to Sportico, Duguid said, “The core of Evolve is building Naomi’s business from $50 million a year to $150 million a year.”

 

Tony O. Lawson


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Erin Jackson Becomes First Black woman to win Olympic medal in Speedskating

Erin Jackson made history when she earned a gold medal in the 500-meter speedskating event at the Winter Olympics in Beijing Sunday.

The 29-year-old former inline skater won the women’s 500 meters at the National Speed Skating Oval with a time of 37.04, earning her first Olympic medal in what has been her best event. She also makes history as the first Black woman to win an Olympic medal in speedskating, according to The Associated Press.

It was also the Americans’ first speedskating medal of the Beijing Olympics.

Erin Jackson

Jackson joined Shani Davis as the only Black athletes to win speedskating medals at the Olympics. Davis, also an American, won gold in the men’s 1,000 meters and silver in the 1,500 meters in the Olympics in Turin in 2006.

 

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Sha’Carri Richardson suspended from US Olympic team after testing positive for marijuana

US track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended for one month from the Olympic team after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on Friday.

News of the infringement arrives four weeks before the start of the athletics competition at the July 23 to August 8 showpiece in Tokyo.

Sha'Carri Richardson

Appearing on NBC’s Today show, the 21-year-old confirmed that she had tested positive for THC, the psychoactive substance in cannabis, which she used after hearing that her mother had died.

She told NBC the news of her mother dying was broken to her by a reporter, sending her into a “state of panic” in the midst of the pressure to perform on the track.

“I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, what I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision,” said Richardson.

It’s unclear whether Richardson will miss the Games altogether. She may still be eligible to compete in another event besides the 100m, such as the 4x100m relay.

Richardson said on TODAY that she would be “grateful” for the chance to compete in the relay, but is not focused on doing so.

“Right now, I’m just putting all of my time and energy into dealing with what I need to do, which is heal myself,” she told Savannah Guthrie. “So if I’m allowed to receive that blessing, then I’m grateful for it, but if not, right now I’m going to just focus on myself.”

 


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Olympian Allyson Felix Launches Her Own Shoe Company After Leaving Nike

Allyson Felix is a four-time Olympian and one of the most accomplished sprinters in U.S. track and field history. She is also the president and founder of her own shoe company called Saysh.

Two years after her public split with Nike, Felix announced the upcoming fall launch of her lifestyle company. Felix didn’t present as an activist at first glance, but her op-ed detailing Nike’s failure to provide maternity protection for its sponsored athletes proved otherwise.

Felix has since embraced her role as a fierce advocate for working moms in sports, and now she’s given birth to a company that’s dedicated entirely to women. Saysh’s first shoe, the Saysh One, is already available for preorder on the company’s website.

From the brand’s simplicity and the airy silhouette of the premiere shoe, it’s clear that Saysh shoes are designed with the everyday woman in mind.

“It’s really about meeting women where they are,” Felix said in a recent interview. “It’s for that woman who has been overlooked or feels like their voice hasn’t been heard. That was the biggest thing when I spoke out, was hearing from other women across industries. And having such a connection there, feeling like it’s so much bigger. There’s just that power in the collective.”

With a company led by women—including designers and engineers, Felix aims to fight against the unequal sports industrial complex and create a more equitable world for women and mothers in sports.

If you’re wondering, the track star has been running in a Saysh track spike during the Olympic trials and will wear them in the Tokoyo Games as well. Felix confirmed her spot in this year’s Olympics a couple of weeks ago, so she will technically be the first athlete to run in her own brand.

You can watch Allyson Felix perform in the unreleased Saysh shoes during the Tokoyo Games, which start July 23rd.


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LeBron James, Maverick Carter Raise $100M To Build a Media Empire

LeBron James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter have reportedly launched a new venture to expand their media empire.

The pair raised $100 million to start the SpringHill Co., a conglomerate that aims to produce content from usually marginalized voices, Bloomberg Businessweek reported Thursday.

“When we talk about storytelling, we want to be able to hit home, to hit a lot of homes where they feel like they can be a part of that story,” James told the magazine. “And they feel like, Oh, you know what? I can relate to that.”

lebron james

With James as chairman and Carter as CEO, the firm combines the duo’s SpringHill Entertainment and Uninterrupted LLC, which have birthed entertainment projects such as a forthcoming “Space Jam” sequel and an HBO talk show, with a marketing agency called the Robot Co., according to Businessweek.

SpringHill was reportedly formed on the same day in March that the NBA suspended its season because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the ensuing lockdowns haven’t hampered the company’s early days — Carter recently inked a TV deal with Disney and has a basketball-themed Netflix film in the works, Businessweek reported.

James and Carter reportedly attended the same high school that James left to join the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. The pair worked together on “The Decision,” a live broadcast of James’ 2010 announcement that he was leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat, Businessweek reported. They went on to start SpringHill Entertainment, which shares its name with the Akron, Ohio, apartment complex where James grew up.

lebron james

The pair’s new company is backed by a slate of investors including Guggenheim Partners, UC Investments, SC Holdings and News Corp. heir Elisabeth Murdoch, with a board that includes tennis legend Serena Williams, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and LiveNation CEO Michael Rapino, Businessweek’s lengthy profile says. (News Corp. owns The Post.)

“This is ultimately a company that’s about point of view, the community you serve, and empowerment,” investment banker Paul Wachter, who helped facilitate the project and also sits on the board, told Businessweek. “This is a company designed to move the culture.”

 

Source: NY Post


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