Community-centered lifestyle startup Saysh closes $8m Series A round to scale growth

Community-centered lifestyle startup Saysh closes $8m Series A round to scale growth

Published: 17-06-2022 13:37:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 421 | Tags:

Saysh, the community-centered lifestyle brand co-founded by Olympian Allyson Felix and her brother and business partner Wes Felix, announced a 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 e-Commerce, 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.

Wes Felix, Co-founder and CEO, Saysh: "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. 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.

Mary Beth Laughton, President and CEO, Athleta: "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. 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.

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.

www.saysh.com