Last week, the most famous woman in U.S. distance running made big moves in the professional running world. Kara Goucher, long-time NIKE sponsored-runner and Alberto Salazar pupil, signed an endorsement contract with Oiselle.
Oiselle is an Oregon-based female running apparel company started by CEO Sally Bergesen. Their mission is simple and straightforward: help empower female runners of all abilities, encourage healthy habits (the female running world is littered with disordered eating), run hard, run clean, and be a superfan of the brand and each other.
They sponsor several professional female runners on their Haute Volée team (Lauren Fleshman and Kate Grace being just two of my favorites!), a team of up-and-coming runners called Little Wing, and dozens of everyday Ambassadors across the country.
But why does it matter so much that Kara Goucher has moved on from NIKE to Oiselle? Well, this headline should say it all:
Kara (I just made us on a first name basis–hope you don’t mind, Kara!) wrote about her departure on her blog, was interviewed for Competitor and Runner Space (two parts), and Sally (again, first name basis…oops?) told the story from point of view as well.
She is arguably the most famous female runner in the country. She’s beautiful, gracious, and has a bright career still ahead of her and definitely had her pick of incredibly lucrative, world-famous running shoe/apparel companies kicking her door down to throw tons of money just to get the chance to sponsor her.
She chose Oiselle.
In short, Kara moved back to Boulder (holla, CO!) to train with her college coaches and wanted to get with a team and a sponsor that aligned with how she sees her future as a runner and entrepreneur, as well as a place where she feels at home.
I love this.
I love that she took a HUGE pay cut to be with a team she identifies with personally and professionally. I love that she joined a company that actively empowers female runners and business owners alike. I love that she chose to be a part of something she believes in, not just the highest bidder.
Running is still a very male-dominated industry. Male coaches, male superstars, predominantly male-based merchandise. It’s only been in recent years that shoe and apparel companies have stopped jimmy-rigging men’s clothes and shoes to fit women.
I mean, helllllllooooo! Who does more shopping?
And Oiselle is the perfect example of where the future of women’s running is headed. Empowering each other. Cheering each other on. Sharing each other’s awesome ideas (Picky Bars, anyone?). Encouraging each other to go for all of our dreams–family AND a career. Breaking down barriers for women across the board.
I mean, they had a fashion show during Fashion Week in New York City last year, starring their athletes. And then Lauren (can I call you Lauren?) went on her blog to show the world what she really looks like OFF the runway, post-baby.
Now that’s integrity for you. Hero status.
And Kara joining the team throws a huge spotlight on company, yes, but even more so toward the mission statement behind the brand.
I, for one, am thrilled to see big moves from a big player and hope that more athletes will follow in her (& Nick Symmonds!) footsteps in taking an active role in shaping the future of our sport for the better, not just for the richer.
I am thoroughly impressed with the fearlessness and integrity with which Kara and Oiselle are leading the pack in female running and business. I hope to do the same in my own career as a runner and a physical therapist.
Thanks for the inspiration, ladies.
Now go out and run.