The round consists of predominantly woman-owned, woman-led investors to support the brand’s mission to create a more equitable future
LOS ANGELES, June 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Saysh, the community-centered lifestyle brand co-founded by Olympian Allyson Felix and her brother and business partner Wes Felix, announced today their Series A round closed at $8 million, led by specialist consumer fund IRIS and Gap Inc.’s performance lifestyle brand Athleta. Additional investors in the round include Redpoint Ventures and Springbank Collective.
Saysh will use the new funding to scale its branded eCommerce, wholesale distribution, and community-based retail footprint, something the founders see as a big growth opportunity. The investment will also support an expanded product offering and the launch of several new activity-specific sneakers. Through the brand’s existing platform, they have been able to successfully test different ideas and concepts to inform their product portfolio moving forward.
“This is an exciting next step for the brand, and we’re so grateful to those partners who see the potential for Saysh to help shape a better future for us all,” said Wes Felix, Co-founder and CEO of Saysh. “Saysh, at its core, celebrates women and their voices, and this funding further empowers us to lead in that regard. We are now, more than ever, positioned to understand and meet the needs of our customers, delivering more value than ever before.”
Championing women on and off the track, Allyson is focusing on Saysh in partnership with the company’s CEO and co-founder Wes. Intentionally created by and for women, the brand’s mission to achieve gender equality has been poignantly illustrated by the company’s debut product: the Saysh One, the first women’s athletics sneaker to be built from the sole up for a woman’s foot. In line with this mission, Saysh was seeking woman-owned, woman-led funding for their Series A round. The advisor to IRIS Fund I FCRE, IRIS Ventures leads the round as a specialist consumer fund that bets on categories where women are the majority end consumer such as health, wellness, beauty, and education.
Athleta, a performance lifestyle brand that champions women, will continue its partnership with Allyson, now as an investor in Saysh. Athleta’s investment was brokered by Gap Inc.’s Strategic Growth Office (SGO), a unit of the company that seeks out opportunities to fuel growth and accelerate new capabilities across its portfolio of brands. As part of the investment, Gap Inc. has acquired an equity stake in Saysh and Athleta has entered into a partnership to showcase the brand’s footwear on Athleta.com.
Allyson and Athleta’s partnership began when she became their first sponsored athlete in 2019. In June 2021, shortly after Saysh’s launch, they partnered to offer a collection of athletic wear, as well as offering an exclusive Rose colorway version of the Saysh One on Athleta.com. That same year, Athleta and Allyson partnered to launch The Power of She Fund: Child Care Grants, a first-of-its-kind grant program that committed $200,000 to help fund childcare costs for professional mom-athletes traveling to competitions, including six who participated in the Tokyo Olympics. During her final games, the Olympian proudly sported Athleta attire and Saysh Spikes to become the most decorated Track & Field athlete in history.
“When we signed Allyson Felix as our first-ever sponsored athlete in 2019, we knew we wanted to do things differently by supporting her as a mom, athlete and advocate,” said Mary Beth Laughton, president and CEO, Athleta. “Today we are proud to continue supporting Allyson as an entrepreneur while fueling growth to the Athleta brand with our investment in Saysh.”
Additionally, Springbank Collective, an early-stage investor in the infrastructure for working women and their families, brought together a group of valuable angel investors to support Saysh via a Special Purpose Vehicle. Participants include Anne-Marie Slaughter, an internationally renowned gender and policy expert; Kerin Hempel, CEO of New York Road Runners; and Sabia Wade, founder of The Black Doula and Black maternal health advocate. A formal advisor for Springbank Collective, Allyson is passionate about their mission for a more equal future.
“Our community is proud to support Allyson,” said Jen Koss, founding partner, Springbank Collective. “She’s a fierce champion for women in her business, in her advisory work with Springbank, and on the track.”
The 50% women early-stage team at Redpoint, an industry venture capital that has successfully invested in companies like Netflix and Sonos, has also joined the funding round.
A long-time sponsored athlete, Allyson decided to leave a sportswear giant after the company attempted to reduce her pay during her pregnancy with her first child. Being forced to choose between being a mother and a professional athlete birthed Saysh, a brand that represents hope, acceptance, and the power to create change. Saysh continues to advocate for improved maternity leave for athletes and working mothers, as well as better access to healthcare for Black mothers.
Saysh’s vision is a future in which inequality is undermined by female creativity and athleticism. This Series A funding round, as well as their recently announced first-of-its-kind Maternity Returns Policy, further supports this vision.
Saysh is a community-centered lifestyle brand for and by women focused on ethical conscience, aesthetic sensibility and an athletic mindset. Saysh is co-founded by Allyson Felix, the most decorated Track and field Olympian; and Wes Felix, her brother and business partner. The brand’s debut lifestyle sneaker is the Saysh One. The Saysh Collective is the overarching community that offers customers early access to product drops and opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals through inspirational conversations, energizing workouts and exclusive member perks. Visit Saysh.com and join us at @bySaysh on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
About IRIS Ventures:
IRIS Ventures is the advisor to IRIS Fund I FCRE, a growth equity fund targeting European and US purpose-led consumer-centric brands and tech-enabled solutions that solve for healthier, happier and more convenient lives. IRIS Ventures has a presence in Barcelona, London and New York.
A certified B Corporation, Athleta is a performance lifestyle brand with a mission of empowering a community of active women and girls. Athleta’s versatile premium performance lifestyle apparel is designed by women for women with inclusivity at its core. Founded in 1998, Athleta integrates performance and technical features across its collection to support women across their entire lifestyle – from yoga and training to travel and sleep. In 2016, the company launched Athleta Girl mirroring its signature performance in styles for the next generation. Based in San Francisco, CA and a Gap Inc. brand (NYSE: GPS), Athleta apparel is available at its over 200 retail stores across the United States, through its catalog, and at Athleta.com.
About Springbank Collective:
Springbank Collective is an early-stage investor in the infrastructure that supports all women and working families to close the gender gap. We invest across the themes of Career, Care and Household Consumer. These sectors collectively comprise a nearly trillion dollar market opportunity with major secular tailwinds.