Allyson Felix’s brand Saysh just secured a major investment
The lifestyle brand founded by Allyson Felix and brother Wes Felix garnered millions in series A financing led by a woman-adventure fund.
Allyson Felix just won another race. In mid-April, the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history confirmed her impending retirement from the sport after the 2022 season. But on Tuesday, her newest venture, Saysh, made a major stride forward as the women’s sneaker and lifestyle brand secured millions in series A financing.
Women’s Wear Daily had the latest scoop on Saysh, which was co-founded by the Olympian and her brother and manager, Wes Felix. According to WWD, this round of financing was “led by the new, specialist consumer fund Iris Ventures, with participation from Redpoint Ventures.”
Of note in this deal is the fact that Iris Ventures is a woman-led fund; one that closely aligns with Saysh’s woman-centric ethos. In fact, as WWD previously reported,
Memorably, Felix has been at the forefront of issues like maternal policies, pay and childcare since her own prenatal and postpartum experience in 2018, which ultimately compelled her to part ways with then-sponsor Nike. In 2019, she became the first athlete sponsored by the Gap Brands-owned women’s lifestyle brand Athleta, which has since also signed Simone Biles. It was through Athleta that the first Saysh sneaker was released in 2021, the Saysh One ($150), which Allyson wore while competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“We’re going to look at brand-building, and how we can let women know that we’re building a company, a brand that’s really for them,” Wes told WWD. “Our overarching goal is to make sure that we’re building a better future for women.”
As he further shared, that includes making products tailored to women rather than simply adapting from men’s designs, as has historically been done throughout much of the production of athleticwear.
“We’ll be building our team in a thoughtful way, looking at research and development, and making sure that we’re really creating products that are made specifically for women’s bodies. Right now, in the industry, that’s just not how it’s done,” Wes added.
As the Felixes told WWD, that lack of female-focused product development sparked the genesis of Saysh as Allyson became frustrated with a lack of footwear options to wear on the track.
“It was me venting to Wes, saying, ‘I don’t have shoes to train and to compete in the Olympics,’” said Allyson. “So I went to Wes, my ‘community,’ and we solved the problem together. We now call our greater community our ‘safe collective.’ It’s about learning from each other, having something to offer and being with a like-minded group of women who are all about creating change.”
That change also includes a revolutionary “maternity returns” program, which recognizes the needs of expectant mothers, who often need a larger size to accommodate the swollen feet or permanent shoe size change that often occurs during pregnancy. “Every Saysh One customer who becomes an expectant mother can contact the brand by email and get a free pair of new sneakers in a larger size to accommodate their swollen feet,” reports WWD. As Felix told the outlet, it was her own experience with discomfort and lack of accommodation that inspired her to pay it forward to others.
“Like many women, I was afraid that starting a family would be a death sentence for my career. But I did it anyway. Saysh represents hope, acceptance, and the power to create change,” she said, adding: “I’m looking forward to the next chapter, the next great challenge…Saysh has given me a bigger purpose, a bigger motivation, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
Maiysha Kai is Lifestyle Editor of theGrio, covering all things Black and beautiful. Her work is informed by two decades’ experience in fashion and entertainment, a love of great books and aesthetics, and the indomitable brilliance of Black culture. She is also a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and editor of the YA anthology Body (Words of Change series).
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