Allyson Felix, the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in U.S. history, shocked the world in 2022 when she announced her retirement from the sport. The 36-year-old champion ended her career on a high note, too. She’s won 11 Olympic medals over her career and faithfully competed in the Olympic Games since 2004.
The Los Angeles native ran her last race at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene Oregon, a moment that was surreal and “very emotional.”
“The last several years have been intense but to finish on home soil and have my family in the crowd was just something that was really special–a moment that I’ll definitely never forget,” Felix told MADAMENOIRE during an exclusive interview.
The revered sprinter is a mother before all else. In 2018, the star welcomed her now 2-year-old daughter Camryn, who is the light of her life. Now that she’s retired, Felix spends every waking moment with her young toddler. “I love taking her to school and bringing her home from school,” she said with a huge glowing smile.
Felix welcomed Camryn around the same time she went through a stressful negotiation period with her former sponsor Nike. The company failed to provide her maternity protection after her grueling delivery that almost turned fatal. Felix battled through preeclampsia and was forced to undergo an emergency C-section at just 32 weeks.
Penalized for pursuing motherhood, Allyson decided to put her family over her career. She dropped Nike as her sponsor in 2019 and went on to criticize the shoe giant in a searing New York Times Op-Ed. Allyson’s advocacy ultimately changed the game for many athletic moms in the industry, forcing companies to reevaluate their corporate policies and guarantee athletes proper pay, through and after pregnancy.
Allyson Felix wants to make the world a better place for women
Off the field, Felix has dedicated her life to raising awareness about the barriers that affect mothers and working women today—from the pay disparity gap to the maternal health crisis.
“I just want to do things that have an impact,” she said of her mission to make the world a better place for women.
“I’ve had a personal connection. Going through those difficult circumstances really opened up my eyes and I just feel like if I’m able to come alongside organizations, companies who are doing important work, that makes me really happy to be able to do something that’s meaningful.”
In 2020, the COVID-19-induced recession delivered a number of challenges for moms across the nation. Baby formula and childcare necessities became scarce. Some women lost their jobs due to the ongoing health crisis. Sadly, mommas are still feeling uneasy in 2023. With new variants on the rise and inflation driving up the cost of living, women are working overtime to provide for their families.
“I think there’s so much on our plates and we feel like you know, we have to do it all. I know in my household, just even keeping us all healthy is a big challenge” said Felix.
To help families stay healthy throughout the cold and flu season, Felix has partnered with Clorox. She swears by the brand’s disinfecting mist, an aerosol-free spray packed with powerful properties that kill 99.9 percent of germs. To keep her daughter safe this season, Felix has created a “drop zone area” where she can place all of her belongings after she returns home from school.
“We bring out the disinfecting mist and use it on her lunchbox, her jackets, everything,” she said. “I’m constantly wiping down our countertops and making sure that I’m prepping my family to be able to tackle this cold and flu season. It’s huge because when she’s sick, the whole house goes down,” the Olympic champ chuckled. “I think this is one of the things that working moms are facing and just families in general. We all are so busy and have so much that we’re trying to tackle.”
Felix gave a word of advice to women that may be having a hard time through this period of uncertainty.
“You don’t have to be perfect in every area. Lean into your help. There are so many people who want to.”
Felix’s Shoe Brand: Saysh
Felix’s passion for women’s empowerment even extends down to her bustling shoe brand Saysh. In 2020, the gold medalist founded the brand alongside her brother Wes after she couldn’t land a footwear sponsor following her tussle with Nike. She was tired of begging companies to see her worth and value, so she took matters into her own hands.
“When we first started, we thought that we were creating shoes for me to wear in the Olympics and maybe, other women would want to support. But what we realized is that shoes haven’t been made for women,” she explained. “Shoes are made from a cast, which is just a mold of a foot. Normally, brands use a man’s foot to make women’s footwear. Our company makes women’s footwear from the form of a female foot. We are for and by women,” she said with passion.
In 2021, Felix debuted the Saysh One while competing in the Tokyo Olympics. The lightweight sneaker is designed with a versatile silhouette and a sculptured heel that provides the right amount of comfort and flair for any occasion. Since the release, Felix and her team have dropped several versions of the shoe in fun and vibrant colorways. Last year, the brand released the Saysh Two, a premium version of the former that features leather detailing and a suede tongue.
Keeping in line with her ethos of equality and inclusion, Felix’s buzzing sneaker brand offers a unique return policy for pregnant women. New moms can contact the company directly to receive a free pair of sneakers if their shoe size changes during pregnancy.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize that our feet can change sizes when we’re pregnant. So being able to offer our shoes in a new size for free is something that we feel is a big thing to do for women,” she said. “We want to disrupt the industry. We want to say that women deserve better in every aspect.”
Self-Care and scaling the Mountaintop
Felix makes time for rest and reflection, even as she runs passionately towards her goals.
“I really have to force myself to do it,” she confessed. “On the calendar, I’m just making sure I’m blocking out time to do something that makes me happy and just setting a little bit of time aside. I do a gratitude journal in the morning,” she continued. “And that’s so if I’m not able to carve out a chunk of time, at least I’m starting my day out just saying what I’m grateful for and getting my mind to a place of positivity. I love having a few quiet moments to myself before the house gets moving.”
There’s so much in store for Allyson Felix this year. In addition to her sneaker brand and various initiatives, Felix is working on the next season of her Mountaintop Conversations podcast, a show that celebrates the stories and experiences of leaders across politics, sports and entrepreneurship. Felix also examines the challenges that her guests have faced while scaling their own personal mountaintop to success.
The first season included powerful conversations with titans like basketball star Candace Parker and financial guru Mellody Hobson.
“I feel like there are all these great conversations to be had where we can just be transparent, and we can talk about trying to reach the mountaintop. But more importantly, how are we helping those coming behind us? So we’re really excited to continue those conversations and share the gems that are being passed along,” she gushed.
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