Last summer, Allyson Felix followed up qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics by launching Saysh with her brother and business partner Wes Felix. The community-centered lifestyle brand is for and by women and built on ethical conscience, aesthetic sensibility and an athletic mindset. As the United States’ most decorated track and field Olympian, it’s something she deeply knew was needed in the shoe industry.
Earlier this fall, Saysh expanded its offerings with the release of Saysh Two, a versatile sneaker meant for everyday life. Inspired by premium leather goods, the shoe comes in vibrant colorways that are intended to stand out. The launch also included the release of Scarf by Saysh, which is meant to coordinate with the Saysh Two sneaker.
"Early in my track career, I thought I had to stay quiet and blend in. I now realize the importance of speaking up, championing women and being bold, and this sneaker represents the culmination of what I've learned," she said upon the Saysh Two debut. "I know firsthand the hard work women put into their daily life— the time, patience, determination and grit needed to reach success that often go unnoticed. The Saysh Two and Scarf by Saysh honor these moments, to remind women that we see you, too."
Recently, Foot Locker became an official retailer for Felix’s brand and, more specifically, was the exclusive brick and mortar retail partner for the new products (though it’s also now available online). Following a recent Foot Locker appearance in Los Angeles, Felix opened up to Modern Luxury about the partnership, why women should step into their boldness and translating athletic resilience to her new career.
Where did the development of Saysh Two begin – did you go in knowing you wanted to offer a shoe with more personality?
I knew that I wanted to create a shoe that women would feel seen in. A shoe that women would receive compliments on.
Why are shoes a good starting point for women to step into their boldness?
I love how shoes can complement an outfit or be the focal point of an outfit. They're relatively easy and so versatile.
How do you want women to feel when they wear Saysh Two?
I want women to feel seen. I want them to be reminded that they exist.
Saysh launched just over one year ago. What are you most proud of so far in this venture?
I recently was able to walk into a Foot Locker and see my company displayed in the store. I used to go to Foot Locker as a kid and would beg my parents for shoes, so to see Saysh there in the store now and to know we are the first female, Black-owned footwear company to be carried by Foot Locker is everything to me. I'm so proud of that.
Has Saysh been fulfilling in a different way from running?
I feel like I'm able to impact more people with Saysh. In running, people pay attention to what I do once every four years, but with Saysh, I have an ongoing opportunity to have so many more touchpoints. I also know we are bringing products to women, and very few other brands are.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your career as a runner that you use now at Saysh?
Resilience. You have to keep going. There are going to be days where you feel on top of the world, and there will be days where you don't ever think you'll be able to accomplish your goals. Just keep going.
Saysh wearers whose shoe sizes go up during pregnancy can get a fresh pair of sneakers in their new size for free. Why are these sorts of initiatives important for changing public attitudes toward expectant mothers?
I had a very public fight for maternity protection with Nike, and that's what led me to start Saysh. I don't want any woman to feel what I felt, so it's extremely important to me that we do our absolute best to see mothers with our brand.
Can you share more about your decision to partner with Foot Locker as the exclusive brick & mortar retail partner?
Working with Foot Locker is a dream come true—actually, it's more than a dream come true. When my brother, Wes, and I started Saysh, we didn't know something like this was possible. As two sneakerhead kids from Los Angeles, Foot Locker was the place we went for fun to window shop, it's the spot we went to understand culture better and to dream. To see our shoes in the store now is a reminder of each of our potential.
Photography by: Dante Marshall