Allyson Felix, the most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history, with seven gold medal wins from 2012 to 2021, retired from her sport earlier this year. She promptly shifted her focus to a new competitive landscape: the business world.
Felix has since launched Saysh, a women’s lifestyle brand that is designed to cater to the needs of female athletes and active women. Speaking about her career transition de ella at Variety‘s Sports and Entertainment Breakfast on July 21, Felix expressed her excitement for the growing number of opportunities that await star female athletes as media personalities, investors and entrepreneurs when they decide to come off the field.
Snowboarding star Chloe Kim, who has two gold medals to date, also appeared at the event, presented by City National Bank at the Maybourne in Beverly Hills, to discuss her burgeoning career as a content producer and the experience of growing up in the public eye as a young female athlete in an unconventional sport.
Felix emphasized that there are, as ever, many issues to scale toward gender equality in sports and business, as demonstrated by Felix’s public conflict with Nike in 2019 over the shoe giant’s lack of maternal leave policy for its sponsored athletes. She called her former sponsor out of her publicly in a New York Times op-ed, a spur that drove the House of Swoosh to implement her proposal as general policy about five months later.
“It just shows the power of your voice and mine,” Felix said during the Q&A with Jenelle Riley, Variety‘s deputy awards and features editor. “You can bring about change and sometimes relatively quickly.”
Felix’s many years of experience with discipline, planning and execution has prepared her well for entering the competitive arena of athletic shoes with her Sasyh One line. As she prepares to launch the shoe line, Felix learned that the vast majority of running footwear is made from uniform shoe patterns that are almost always based on male feet. Not so for Saysh.
Felix stated that her company directly addresses the issue of women whose feet grow in size during pregnancy and, sometimes, after childbirth. The company vows to give a free pair of sneakers in a new size to all customers who become pregnant.
“You don’t have to choose between motherhood and being a woman,” Felix said.
The decorated Olympian did not hide her enthusiasm for her new challenge of being the public face of her business and the chance to put her advocacy for female-friendly work policies into action at Saysh.
“I’m empowered to go down this course,” she said. “This is such a great new challenge.”
Kim and her longtime manager, Lowell Taub of Stoked Management, spoke about the snowboarder’s unlikely career path. From her start de ella as an unusually talented 13-year-old snowboarder, today she is a top athlete and partner in the content production and commerce company Together, along with fellow athletes Sue Bird, Simone Manuel and Alex Morgan. She also made it clear that she is pursuing on-camera work.
“I enjoy acting,” Kim told Elizabeth Wagmeister, Variety‘s chief correspondent. “I love being on camera and reading lines. Hopefully you’ll see me in some cool stuff.”
Kim noted her surprise at how fast her star rose as she racked up wins at the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics. At the 2018 Oscars, best actress winner Frances McDormand called out Kim in her acceptance remarks for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” saying she wanted to take her to the slopes with her.
“Frances, I’m still waiting,” Kim quipped.
“Frances I’m still waiting!” Chloe Kim sends a message to Oscar-winner Frances McDormand after the Olympian was referenced in her best actress acceptance speech, Kim is ready and waiting to hit the slopes together | Variety Sports & Entertainment presented by @CityNational pic.twitter.com/16FeE4hwpJ
— Variety (@Variety) July 21, 2022