By Avalon Kelly
On August 6, 2021, Allyson Felix lined up against the world’s top runners to race the Olympic 400m. On her feet were not a pair of Nike super spikes, or spikes of any other big-name brand— she wore spikes by “Saysh,” her brand that she created for women early this year, which represents hope and acceptance for professional female athletes.
Back in 2018, Felix decided that she wanted to be a mother. When she told Nike, her sponsor at the time, she “was told to know [her] place. That runners should just run, and it’s just business.” Felix requested that she would not be punished if her performance was not at her best post-birth. Nike declined and offered her a contract for 30% of what she was currently making. Felix chose to leave Nike, and found a new sponsor with Athleta in 2019. It was under her sponsorship with Athleta that Felix broke the record for the US most decorated track athlete in the 2020 Olympics, with a total of 11 Olympic medals (including 7 gold).
Going into the 2020 Olympics, Felix did not have a sponsor for her spikes. So, she decided to create her own. “Saysh” is Felix’s own shoe brand that currently sells lifestyle sneakers and racing spikes, “designed for and designed by women.” Felix first wore her spikes in public at the Olympic Trials, then wore them for her Olympic races. Describing the purpose of her shoes, Felix posted on Instagram, “this brand represents hope, acceptance, and the power to create change.” A wave of support and encouragement from fans and athletes swept Felix’s social media following her brand announcement. Felix responded by posting a powerful image of her posing with her Olympic medals and C-section scar, captioning with her message “Here I am. I know my place (and it’s in my own shoes).”