Allyson Felix is headed off to the Summer Olympics-but first, she's busy launching a new shoe company.
It's called Saysh, and Felix announced the launch in a big way. The 35-year-old Olympic sprinter, who shared in a 2019 New York Times opinion piece that Nike tried to drop her pay by 70% after her pregnancy, shared a stunning photo of herself on the Saysh Instagram account. In it, Felix is wearing her Olympic medals while proudly showing off her C-section scar.
"Introducing Saysh, a community-centered lifestyle brand that creates products for, and by, women," the caption reads. "Founded by @allysonfelix, the most decorated track and field athlete of all time, we exist to undermine inequality with female athleticism and creativity."
Felix, who is mom to 2-year-old Cameron, also announced the launch on her own Instagram account in a heartfelt post that makes it very clear that her past influenced her decision.
"Dear World, and the women in it," the six-time Olympic gold medalist began. "I've been running my whole life. I'm good at it, and I've got a lot of medals to show for it. I was scared to stop running. I wasn't sure I would fully know who I was without it. Like many women, I was afraid that starting a family would be a 'death sentence' for my career."
But, Felix points out, she "did it anyway" and "faced a gender injustice that I couldn't run away from. My employer did not support my maternity and my colleague's maternity in a way that I could be proud of."
"I was told to know my place. That runners should just run, that it's just business," she continued. "Instead, I spoke up. I used my voice to fight for maternal protection for female athletes. No woman should have to choose between being a professional and being a Mother. Now, because of that fight, sponsorship contracts look different for a lot of athletes."
Felix pointed out that she had "complications" during her pregnancy (her daughter was born at 32 weeks) and she "realized I needed to use my voice to bring awareness to another injustice: a racial injustice in our healthcare system. I spoke to the United States Congress about my experience-and I continue to use my voice for change."
But, for this year's Olympics, Felix didn't have a sponsor for her racing spikes. So, she says, she decided to make her own-and Saysh was created.
"We design and develop products for and by women. We started with my racing spikes. We're bringing lifestyle sneakers next and creating all of this on the foundation of community," Felix wrote. "I can't wait for you to see it all, to be part of it all. These products mean so much more to me than simply the shoes I compete in. This brand represents hope, acceptance, and the power to create change. I hope you'll come to feel that also."
Felix ended on this note: "When you see me run, know that I'm not running for medals. I'm running for change. I'm running for greater equity for each of us. I'm running for women. More than anything, I'm running toward a future where no woman or girl is ever told to know her place."
The comments of Felix's post were flooded with messages of support, including props from a few famous names. "YOU are the change we want to see in the world. When we see you, we are inspired to be US!!! Love you, sis. And so very, very proud!" wrote Netflix chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John. "You are amazing!!!" said fellow Olympian Summer Sanders.
Felix also dropped a goose bump-inducing video for Saysh on Instagram that showed off her medals and C-section scar again, this time in a close-up view. The clip was titled, "I Know My Place."
Felix showed a shot of her new shoes in a follow-up post, too, writing, "never underestimate the power of your voice or your ability to create change."
Interested in getting a pair? The company's first lifestyle sneaker, called Saysh One, is now available for pre-order for $150. The sneaker comes in all white, all black, and white with blue accents, and they're specifically created for female feet.
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