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Allyson Felix Time Magazine cover

Source: Williams + Hirakawa / Time

 

11-time world champion track and field star Allyson Felix is stepping into the shoe business. The 35-year-old athlete was presented with a huge problem last year following her split from Nike in 2019. Felix couldn’t land any major sponsorships with footwear brands and in turn, she was left essentially barefoot.

Now how does a sprinter run without any shoes?  

That’s when the track and field star decided to create her own. Last year Felix and her brother Wes cofounded Saysh, a company that strives beyond your typical shoe brand. Saysh is made exclusively for and by women. The brand’s design team Tiffany Beer and Natalie Candrian shared they wanted to help the Olympic gold medalist create a shoe that was proportionate to women’s feet.  

“When we started this project, we said, ‘Let’s pretend men’s shoes don’t exist. Let’s pretend shoe’s don’t exist,’” Beers explained. “If a woman was going to build a shoe for herself, what would she create?

As the team began to construct a prototype for the Saysh One, the designers shared that they paid close attention to the structure of women’s feet which Beer noted tend to be narrower and proportionately wider at the heel. Felix and her team constructed a higher heel for the shoe which many women found to be more comfortable.  

Allyson will debut her new sneaker at the Tokyo Olympics soon and in September the brand will officially launch and release its first product. The new Saysh sneaker will cost $150. In addition to the exciting release, the brand will also unveil its online community that will give subscribers access to a load of digital content including workout videos, opportunities to network with community members, and a chance to meet Allyson herself. 

“The real vision is to create a community by women for women,” Wes said of Saysh’s mission. “We will keep going back to our community and asking them what they want to see in the world.”

Allyson’s brother went on to reveal that the 6-time Olympic gold medal winner’s contentious split with Nike drove her to create the brand.  Allyson cut ties with the shoe giant in 2019 after the company failed to provide her with maternity protections as a new mother.  She went on to write about her frustrations with the brand in an op-ed for the New York Times citing that negotiations were stressful during the time of her pregnancy– which came with its own set of complications. The star said she battled through Preeclampsia and had to undergo an emergency C-section at 32 weeks in order to protect her and her baby at the time. 

 “Despite all my victories, Nike wanted to pay me 70 percent less than before. If that’s what they think I’m worth now, I accept that,” penned the Olympic champion.

“What I’m not willing to accept is the enduring status quo around maternity. I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth. I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could?” 

Luckily shortly after her rocky negotiations with Nike, Allyson landed a deal with Athleta becoming the first athlete spokesperson for the female-focused brand. The company will also help the star distribute her new shoe collection once it hits stores.  

Check out Saysh’s website and you can join their online community here!  It looks like the brand already has some of the Saysh One Blue sneakers up for pre-order too.  Secure yours before they sell out here. 

 

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