Yesterday afternoon, I got back from my run (ok, my puddle jump, it’s a mess here) and was scrolling through Twitter while I stretched and suddenly saw a lot of activity about Kara and Oiselle. There were some rumors a month ago when she visiting Seattle and the fledgling company, but no official announcements. It’s now official; Kara is joining Oiselle and this is a big deal on a whole lotta levels.
Follow your heart and fight for what you want. As you read both Oiselle’s announcement and Kara’s, you’ll notice that although it was love at first flight, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Kara would be joining the team. In fact, it was Kara who had to convince Oiselle that they could find a way to make it work even if Oiselle didn’t have the deep pockets (7 figures deep) of other offers on the table. What I admired most, however, was Kara’s candid account of taking a big risk and going with a company that made her feel good and offered her the opportunity to do good. Pro athletes are in a tenuous spot. They rely on their bodies and their performances to make a living and passing up a ton of money with futures that are uncertain by definition is a huge risk. In Kara’s case, she ran for Nike for most of her career, making a move to a brand new company an even bigger risk.
Shake it up. Although this has changed a few times in the past decades, for the most part, an athlete signs a shoe deal and then just wears the apparel that the shoe company also happens to make. In Kara’s case, Oiselle doesn’t make shoes so she is now looking for a “shoe-only” deal. While this may seem like a small thing, the successful pursuit of a shoe only deal and a big name athlete breaking the mold is an incredible shakeup for a sport with just a litttttttle bit of controversy around the domination of the sport by a few big companies. Ok, like one company. What Kara’s move marks is another small step in the process of changing an entrenched system of sponsorship that isn’t always great for athletes or for the sport.
Congratulations to Oiselle for landing Kara and to Kara for following her heart and finding a place where she feels like she belongs.