Anything guys can do, girls and women just might be doing better, Deb North said.
“Our whole goal is to support girls in this process and build them up and be their cheerleaders,” North, founder of Yes! Athletics, explained of the social enterprise — which recently launched The Defiant 1 wrestling shoe, a breathable, lightweight, eco-friendly shoe created with girls in mind.
Click here to learn more about Yes! Athletics.
“For these girls to do these non-traditional sports, it takes being really brave, right? My [youngest] daughter’s a wrestler; she’s 10-years-old and I would have never had the nerve to be the only girl on a wrestling team,” she said, drawing parallels between dominant boys clubs in sports and business. “The boys really don’t want you there because they’re afraid you’re going to beat them.”
When North and her daughter were looking for shoes, they realized options for girls weren’t in sight, she said.
“[The selection] was all traditional, black with white stripes,” North added.
The discovery prompted her to think of a friend who’d once done private label work for Amazon, in turn generating thoughts of making her daughter a pair of shoes herself.
“I thought, ‘If she can do something, I can do something,’ So I started looking into it.”
A year later, the tenacious, single mom to three daughters — and a full-time headhunter — is well into running her second business, she said, noting Yes! Athletics is now seeking community support through a new Kickstarter campaign.
The effort offers a buy-one-give-one sales model that aims to support young girls competing in the sport within underserved communities and has resulted in the first round of sales for the Defiant 1.
Click here to contribute to the Yes! Athletics Kickstarter campaign and its $10,000 goal.
“All these girls, whether it’s my daughter or any of them, they’re trailblazers,” she said, excited about the prospect of supporting young female athletes at a critical time in their lives.
“I want to offer scholarships — if I start making some money — and really help girls, if they want to continue their career and maybe they don’t get a full ride to college,” North said.
The campaign launched as a pivot when sales of Defiant 1 — originally set for April — were delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she added.
“It was kind of put out there to see what happens, to kind of gauge demand. Well, through that process, I realized that kids wrestle year-round. It’s not just a winter sport, like in school,” she said, noting 2,400 young wrestlers descended on Hy-Vee Arena for a tournament in August.
One of the fastest growing sports in the United States — surpassing gymnastics — girls wrestling provides a market full of opportunities for the company to grow into, North said.
“I’m going to eventually have some competition, but I think that there’s a lot of people that are going to realize, ‘I like what her company is about and what they stand for,’” she said.
“Let’s face it, the big boys are going to be next. I think what’s going to make me different is I’m a conscious-based company. Our whole goal is to support girls in this process and build them up.”