It was a family affair on the FN Achievement Award stage, where Olympian Allyson Felix was presented with the Launch of Year award by her brother Wes Felix, with whom she created their Saysh sneaker brand.
Wes Felix recalled that his sister’s drive and determination was on display even at a young age, when they went to a water park as kids and were on the hunt for inner tubes. “All of a sudden, little Allyson — maybe 4 or 5 years old — disappears and comes back with an inner tube around her waist, one around her left arm, one on her other arm and another around her neck, and she said ‘I got you.'”
But the proud brother recalled another moment that was even more impressive, when Allyson Felix gave birth to her daughter two months early.
As Allyson said in her acceptance speech, that traumatic birth experience set her on the path to publicly splitting with Nike in 2019, after the athletic giant failed to provide maternity support during and after her pregnancy.
“I remember looking at Wes and telling him, ‘You know, I don’t have shoes to wear to the Olympics,” recalled Allyson. “And he was like, ‘Well, why don’t we do ourselves.’ I looked at him like he was absolutely crazy. But the more I sat with it, I understood the opportunity.”
She added that after conducting more research they realized the void in the market. “Through that process we have learned that women have been overlooked in this space for far too long. And we had the opportunity to create something for women designed by women and had the complete privilege and honor to do that in lifestyle sneakers.“
Their debut look, the Saysh One, was created by renowned designers Natalie Candrian and Tiffany Beers and is lifestyle sneaker built to be lightweight, breathable and ideal for daily wear.
But the brand also has dipped its toe in performance footwear with a pair of custom track spikes that Allyson Felix indeed wore in Tokyo, where she won two more medals, bringing her five-Olympic run to a tally of 11. That streak makes Felix the most decorated woman in Olympic track-and-field history and the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history.
Felix joins a notable roster of FNAA Launch of the Year winners. Previous winners of the award have included Amina Muaddi, SJP and Under Armour.
For 35 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2021 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Authentic Brands Group, FDRA, Informa, On and Wolverine Worldwide.