Last week, track and field star Allyson Felix made headlines worldwide when she secured her eleventh Olympic medal.
She is now the most decorated U.S. track and field star of all time.
But months ago, she launched her new show company, Saysh. The launch of her company came two years after her acrimonious split from sportswear giant Nike following a dispute over pay.
Nike wanted to pay her 70% less because she’d become a mother. Felix walked away.
“Everyone’s not on the journey with you, and so they don’t understand kind of the realness of not getting paid for two years, going through this struggle, this back-and-forth,” Felix tells Complex of sacrifices she’s had to make for the sake of her company in a recent interview.
“And then, just not even knowing if I was going to have another sponsor, and the whole footwear issue. So all of the things that happened. And I feel grateful now to kind of be at this place, and kind of understanding like, OK, I feel like I’m absolutely where I’m supposed to be. But it definitely came at a cost.”
Not only did Felix win a slew of medals at the Tokyo Olympics, but she did it all wearing Saysh.
“It was definitely a huge motivation to get it out there. Also, just the focus on women, and, really, that message coming across. And also just not to do things the traditional way, like you’re saying. I think I was in such a unique position that a lot of athletes never have the opportunity to be in, because obviously we’re usually sponsored by some big company,” she says of rocking her own brand at the Olympics. “And so yeah, you can have a signature shoe, but to actually own the company is something that’s so rare. So I really loved being able to also put it out there that you can go this non-traditional route, as an option.”