Two years removed from a feud with Nike and just days after qualifying for her fifth trip to the Olympics, track star Allyson Felix is adding the title of “entrepreneur” to her list of accomplishments.
Felix announced on Instagram on Wednesday that she is launching her own shoe brand called Saysh, a brand that she says “represents hope, acceptance, and the power to create change.”
“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,” Felix wrote on Instagram.
Felix, whose six Olympic gold medals are the most of any female track and field athlete, had public fallout with Nike, her longtime sponsor, back in 2019. She wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times that she wanted to start a family in 2018 knowing that it could jeopardize her deal with Nike as she was trying to renew a deal that had expired in December 2017. Felix wrote that she felt like she needed to return to form as quickly as possible, even after an emergency C-section in November 2018 to deliver her daughter, Camryn. Felix said Nike offered to pay her 70 percent less than what she had been earning before she was pregnant.
Felix did not re-sign with Nike after negotiations on a deal continued to go sour. Nike changed its maternity policies in 2019 as a result of public backlash and a congressional inquiry, according to the Washington Post. Felix later signed a deal with Gap’s Athleta brand, according to CNBC.
Since the split with Nike, Felix has become an activist for maternal protection for female athletes and for inequities for Black mothers in the health care system.
“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 wrote on Instagram.
She continued: “During my pregnancy, I had complications. And I realized I needed to use my voice to bring awareness to another injustice: a racial injustice in our healthcase system. I spoke to the United States Congress about my experience — and I continue to use my words for change.”
Saysh is a shoe brand designed “for and by women,” the website reads. The Saysh One sneaker is for sale at $150.