Startland News is continuing its “Fund Me, KC” series to highlight area entrepreneurs’ efforts to accelerate their businesses or lend a helping hand to others. This is an opportunity for business owners and innovators — like Kansas City’s Deb North and the newly launched Champion1 girls wrestling shoe — to share their crowdfunding stories and potentially gain backing from new supporters.
Who are you?
Deb North, founder of Yes! Athletics. I’m a Kansas City entrepreneur, owner and operator of True North Consulting, and a single mom of three girls.
My company — Yes! Athletics — empowers young female athletes by filling the gap in sporting goods gear for girls in sports.
Click here to shop Yes! Athletics.
After bringing customers the first-ever girls wrestling shoe, YES! Athletics has launched its second shoe, the Champion1: a high-performance, eco-friendly, tough-wearing girls wrestling shoe made specifically for female athletes brave enough to enter the world of male-dominated sports.
What does your campaign hope to accomplish?
We want to raise funds to help us get to the next level in our business, but also continue to build brand awareness.
Click here to check out the Champion1 campaign.
We have great traction having just launched one year ago (and sold 665 pairs of shoes), but with 30,000 girls who wrestle in high school and another 30,000 youth girls who wrestle, we have a lot of work to do to reach these girls.
According to The Wall Street Journal, girls wrestling has surpassed gymnastics in popularity and participation. The NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches Association) shows that the number of female wrestlers has doubled during the past five years, and in 2004, women’s wrestling became an official sport in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
What’s your ‘why’?
I am passionate about girls in sports, but particularly girls who step out and play non-traditional sports such as wrestling.
There is a saying that goes, “Kids in sports stay out of the courts.” Sports teach kids so much about being a good teammate. Wrestling teaches discipline and focus that can carry into many other sports.
Youth girls participating in the traditionally male sports of wrestling, football, and weightlifting are both vulnerable and brave. Yes! Athletics supports this vulnerability and bravery with sporting goods and gear in feminine styles and colors.
While the industry has made great strides since the 1970s and Title 9, sporting goods companies serving male-dominated sports continue to cater specifically to men and boys.
My three daughters play a variety of sports. Grace is a college track athlete. Rae plays volleyball, basketball, softball, and runs track. Annie plays softball, volleyball, wrestles, throws the shot put and throws the turbo javelin in track and field.
How much do you hope to raise with the crowdfunding campaign and how do you plan to use the funds?
We have bootstrapped our efforts so far, but are seeking $10,000 to be able to increase our sales and marketing efforts and start developing the next generation of shoe.
Anything else our readers should know about Yes! Athletics or this effort?
Click here to learn more about the Champion1 shoe.
Made with a microfiber suede upper for outstanding appearance, increased durability, and weather resistance, the shoe is lightweight, breathable, and tough. It has an integrated lace strap to keep laces in place during a match or the toughest workout. And with a hand-stitched sole, this shoe will last a full season on the mat.
I have such respect for the girls who have been pioneers in the sport and said “Yes!” early on. I am wildly passionate about helping other girls be brave and say “Yes!”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.