BreakThru News, ep. 20: Athletes in Business

By Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein

Turning down a Nike endorsement as a professional athlete might seem a shocking choice, but that was the choice that two-time Olympian Kara Goucher made when she switched to Oiselle, a women’s running apparel brand, after 12 years of running for Nike. The life of a professional athlete can easily become governed by the need for competitive wins to score lucrative endorsements, and yet even big brand sponsorships can come with unexpected high tax returns and endorsements fees, while the underlying wellbeing of the athlete gets lost beneath expectations for splashy results.

Oiselle is one example of a new kind of sports company prioritizing its own ‘life philosophy.’ Its ‘manifesto’ emphasizes the wellness of the athlete and a sense of community, and its ideals are clearly resonating with all-stars and amateurs alike. In addition to its professional team, it also has a recreational team nationwide with over 250 devotees.

Picky Bars is another company helping athletes on and off the field with its ultra quality energy bars. The enterprise emerged from an navicular injury in 2008, which kept Lauren Fleshman, one of America’s most decorated distance runners of all time, from competing in the upcoming Olympics. The result was an energy bar tailored towards being the best possible performance fuel, and the business has since taken off. However, the company also empowers athletes professionally from within: to date, it has hired entirely athletes for its operations.

Both Picky Bars and Oiselle are testimony to potential of a product designed by athletes for athletes. This week BreakThru News spoke to Betsy Flood (Picky Bars) and Mel Lawrence (Picky Bars, and professional runner for Oiselle) about what athletes are bringing to their businesses, and vice versa. The conclusion seems to be that everyone is winning.

Video Credits
Host, Writer – Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
Video Editor – Andy Morell
Script Supervisor – Matthew DeMello
Research – Lisa Autz

with guests – Betsy Floor, Mel Lawrence