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Simone Biles On How Athletics Gave Her the Skills to Enter Business and Partner With Athleta

Athlete and businesswoman Simone Biles is no stranger to perseverance.

The decorated Olympic gymnast, who grew up in foster care before being adopted by her grandparents, said she was always determined to beat the statistics of her situation. Now at age 25, Biles is largely considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. But even after winning the gold — several times — the athlete is looking ahead to new ventures and taking what she’s learned through sport along the way.

“What do you do when you reach your dream at 19?” Biles said during a Monday morning keynote session at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show. After already winning several gold medals, Biles said she’s inspired by other star athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, who pivoted from a career in sports to a successful array of business ventures, endorsement deals and partnerships.

To make this shift, Biles is using the skills she learned as a gymnast, such as the importance of goal-setting and perseverance.

Teamwork, she said, is the most important part of the sport or business equation because “when everybody does their part, they succeed together.”

Outside of sports, Biles has become a mental health advocate, stemming from her withdrawal from competing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, a decision made to prioritize her own mental and physical well-being. Biles has also been an outspoken advocate for supporting and empowering women, a value that propelled her to sign a deal with Athleta in April 2021. The partnership allows Biles to design her own activewear line and also launch collections for Athleta Girls, the brand’s offshoot for kids.

The goal with her Athleta Girls collection is to inspire young girls to keep moving in pursuit of their dreams. Items in the collection feature motivational phrases like “Because I Can,” and “Courage Is Your Superpower.”

Biles launched her third major campaign with the brand in July and said she was also inspired by Athleta’s partnership with Olympic track star turned footwear designer Allyson Felix, as well as its commitment to celebrating her entire self, outside of athletics. 

“They didn’t just support the gymnast Simone,” Biles said of Athleta. “They just supported Simone.”

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