Athletes have the ability to establish their own brands, and it is often perceived by the general public as a step towards commercialization and investment. However, the creation of American track and field athlete Allyson Felix’s personal brand, Saysh, was actually born out of a tragic personal experience.
Ever since winning the silver medal in the 200-meter race at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Allyson has gone on to achieve an impressive record of 7 gold, 3 silver, and 1 bronze medal in women’s track and field events at subsequent Olympics. Despite her remarkable accomplishments, many believed that her career as a professional athlete would be smooth sailing.
However, in 2019, when Allyson became pregnant, her sponsor Nike significantly reduced her endorsement fees, offering her only 30% of her previous earnings. This effectively forced her to make a difficult choice between her family and her career.
On her Saysh One website, Allyson shares her story through a blog format.
Even gold medalists are just investment tools for sponsors
“I have been running my whole life. Running is my passion, and I have achieved countless victories in competitions. But I also fear the idea of stopping running because I am afraid that if I no longer pursue what I love, I will lose a part of myself.” As a professional female athlete, she also harbored concerns that starting a family would be detrimental to her career. However, the inevitable eventually happened. During her pregnancy, she faced undeniable gender inequality. Her employer did not fully support her and her fellow athletes in starting families. She was even told to “know her place” and that professional runners should solely focus on running.
“I was told to know my place, that runners are meant to run.”
Allyson deeply experienced the discrimination that pregnant women face in the workplace. But the challenges didn’t end there. Later on, Allyson also had to undergo an emergency C-section at 32 weeks due to health reasons, facing a life-or-death situation with her child. Fortunately, Allyson possessed a strong mindset and unwavering determination that helped her overcome these obstacles. In 2021, at the age of 36, she made a remarkable comeback at the Tokyo Olympics.
Allyson shares the difficulties that female athletes encounter during pregnancy. For instance, even when she was five months pregnant, she had to start training as early as 4:30 a.m., all the while worrying about losing sponsorship if her sponsor discovered her pregnancy. In 2019, she established her own sports brand, Saysh, embarking on a new career path. The brand’s slogan, “I Know My Place,” directly responds to her past experiences with endorsement deals and aims to support more female athletes based on her own journey. “Pregnancy should never be a reason to push women out of the workplace!”
On the official website of the brand, Saysh, Allyson Felix mentions:
“Your voice has power — use it even if it shakes.”
Sometimes you may ask for change, and other times you need to create it. Embrace your life with courage because when you pursue your passions and dreams, it becomes easier to find your purpose. Saysh is designed and developed specifically for women, offering products such as competition spikes and everyday athletic shoes. The brand represents more than just shoes for Allyson; it symbolizes hope, acceptance, and the power to create change. She hopes that users can also experience this. When you see Allyson running, know that she no longer runs solely for medals but for the purpose of making a difference.
“When I confided in Wes Felix, co-founder of Saysh, about being tired of companies undervaluing me, he said, ‘Why don’t we do it ourselves?'” Allyson recalls her initial response, replying to her partner, “You’re crazy.” But later on, she realized he was right. We have the opportunity to create change instead of relying on others to do it.
At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Allyson wore her own brand’s special racing shoes as she crossed the finish line, winning her seventh gold medal and her first bronze medal. “This is the most significant moment in my career,” Allyson said. “Usually, the focus is on medals and results, but this time it was different. I overcame all the challenges, wearing my own shoes, feeling like I represented other women and mothers.”
Source：IG@bysaysh、Saysh Official Website