[RE]MEET THE ATHLETES – OISELLE

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[RE]MEET THE ATHLETES

[RE]MEET THE ATHLETES

Apr 25, 2022

Perhaps you’ve been around since the earliest days of Oiselle, when the first pairs of shorts could only be found at race expos and orders were packed by CEO and Founder Sally herself. (THANK YOU, by the way. We wouldn’t be here without you!)

More likely, you heard from a friend about some great running shorts with pockets, or a long sleeve shirt with a watch window, and you’re newer to the brand. (THANK YOU, by the way. We wouldn’t be here without you!)

Or perhaps you’re here because you appreciate the company’s positions on feminism, trans women in sport, the Women Run the Vote virtual relays, our Women’s Sports History profiles, keeping girls and young women in sport and safe, and our other efforts to make running a more equitable and diverse sport for ALL. (THANK YOU, by the way. We wouldn’t be here without you!)

Whatever the reason, we invite you to [re]meet our athletes!

Below learn more about our three Athlete-Advisors (Alison Mariella Désir, Kara Goucher and Lauren Fleshman), plus wheelchair racer Jenna Fesemyer (representing our broader emerging athlete team that we call the Haute Volée) and middle distance runner Rebecca Mehra (representing the Haute Volée training group. Littlewing Athletics).


ALISON MARIELLA DÉSIR

Athlete-Advisor, author, community gatherer, activist, mama, movement maker

Follow Alison on Instagram + Twitter

“When you do things in community with the support, love, joy, energy of other people, you run further, you run faster, you run more, you run more joyfully. So that's what I love.”

What are you most passionate about in the running industry?
I’m really passionate about making sure that everybody has equal access to running. I’m particularly focused on racial justice in the running industry. So, the ways that black and brown people historically have not had opportunities or resources to participate in long distance sport, and what we can do to make it better.

What do you love the most about community building?
What I love most about community building is that people’s lives are changed, right? I think that when we attempt things by ourselves – and really, nothing great happens by yourself when we attempt things alone it’s not as fun, it’s lonely, it can be more frustrating – but when you do things in community with the support, love, joy, energy of other people, you run further, you run faster, you run more, you enjoy more joyfully. So that’s what I love. I love bringing people together and having people experience that.

What does Oiselle mean to you?
Oiselle stands for disruption to me. I think that many brands and companies continue to do the same thing because it’s the way things have always been done. And was all by nature of it being a by- and for-women’s company, that in and of itself is disruption. And the issues and the athletes that we support is all about shaking things up and reimagining what sport and what the industry can look like.

What’s your power suit?
The Sporty Short Sleeve Sweatshirt with the Lux Lounge Tights.


KARA GOUCHER

Athlete-Advisor, Olympian, author, force to be reckoned with, mama, fierce heart on her sleeve

Follow Kara on Instagram + Twitter


“I feel like [being emotional] helped me to connect to people—you don’t always have to be so strong or put on this face. We all can be vulnerable together.”

Can you speak to the issues you're most passionate about in the running industry?
The issues that I care the most about in the running industry… I mean, there's a LOT of things that I care about. I care about equality for men and women as far as prize money, appearance fees, contracts. I care about maternity protection for female athletes that are still competing, I care about clean sport, which I think is what I'm most known for, like fighting for clean sport and just sort of protecting the next generation, and then also safe sport: Females being safe at practice, safe with their coaches. So there’s a lot of things I care about.

What is your superpower?
I'm really vulnerable and I'm a really emotive person. I cry, and I used to see that as a weakness, but now I think of it more as a superpower. I think that being emotional and riding that wave, my highs are, like, a lot higher, and I appreciate things. And also, I feel like it's helped me to connect to people—you don't always have to be so strong or put on this face. We all can be vulnerable together. So I actually think my emotional/vulnerable state is a superpower now.

What is your favorite aspect of the sport?
I think my favorite aspect of running is watching people find freedom in their bodies and strength in themselves, whether you're a young kid running or you're in college or you're an elite or you're an adult that just picked it up. There's this transformation that happens, not necessarily physically, but mentally, that you can handle a lot and that you're stronger than you think. And so, I think just the beauty of people finding the freedom of running is my favorite thing.

What does Oiselle mean to you?
To me, Oiselle means community, and family, and support, acceptance. I've worked with a lot of brands and I've been on a lot of teams, but I think what Oiselle has that is so special is this dedication to each other. Genuine happiness for each other. Genuine protection for each other. And it's just a place that’s safe but that also where you can come and if you have battles you want to fight, all of a sudden all these people will help you fight that battle. So it's just, like, a perfect community.

What’s your power suit?
The Audrey Mock Neck with a pair of jeans and my favorite sneakers. I feel most confident when my arms are showing!


LAUREN FLESHMAN

Athlete-Advisor, author, poet, dreamer, mama, musician, total baller

Follow Lauren on Instagram + Twitter


“I think that [in 10 years] the whole second class citizen or B squad mentality of women’s sports is going to be over completely.”

Can you speak to the issues you're most passionate about in the running industry?
I'm passionate about so much in the running industry. But I'm especially passionate about the embodied experiences of female athletes from a youth age all the way up through a lifetime, really, and making sure that sports are created with their bodies in mind.

What does the future of women’s sports look like in 10 years?
The future of women's sport is going to be equal pay for equal work. I think we're gonna see women's sports on television more accessibly, and, like, all kinds of public places. I think that the whole second class citizen or B squad mentality of women's sports is going to be over completely.

What keeps you grounded?
Running keeps me grounded, it brings me back into my body, whether it's a stressful day or a stressful month or, like, big issues going on in the world or health problems, family issues, getting outside moving my body, returning to my breath, and just locking into that familiar rhythm that I've been doing since I was 13 years old, or really since I was able to run as a 2 year old. It just reminds me that I’m me.

What does Oiselle mean to you?
Oiselle plays a critical role in the running industry and the sports industry in general Sports as we know it were built by men for men and boys. And the default body in sports is a male body: 90% of sports performance resource research is based on the male body to have a sports brand that is founded by a woman, run by women, and every single part of its business model centers women. That's absolutely huge. It's not just a matter of being able to say “by women, for women,” it fundamentally changes every aspect of the business when women aren’t an add on to an existing system, but they're the system themselves.

What’s your power suit?
The Benjamina Popover paired with the Benjamina Joggers. Tomboy chic.


JENNA FESEMYER

Haute Volée Athlete, Paralympian, human sunbeam, bridge builder, fast arms with a free heart

Follow Jenna on Instagram + Twitter


“I love racing because of how it makes me feel and who it’s helped me to become. I think through racing I have been able to see my disability as something that is so beautiful…”

Can you speak to the issues you're most passionate about in the running industry?
I think the issues that I'm the most passionate about in the running industry are all disability related. So as a wheelchair athlete, I’m really passionate about disability visibility at races and so that's something that I really strive do within my career. But also to break up the stigma about disability and to be able to create a space that allows for the beauty of disability in sports, specifically.

What does the future of sport look like in 10 years?
What I would hope for the future of sport to look like in 10 years, specifically for wheelchair athletes in the running community, is more equality in being able to run side-by-side with our able-bodied counterparts at different track meets at different road races. Finding more equity within prize purses and various accommodations within these opportunities. And so, for me specifically, my mission would be to push for that equality hopefully sooner than 10 years. But that would be my vision over 10 years.

What do you love the most about racing?
I love racing because of how it makes me feel and who it's helped me to become. I think through racing I have been able to see my disability as something that is so beautiful, versus seeing it as an inconvenience or something that is extremely lacking. And what I also love about disability in racing is to be able to come together with my counterparts and to be able to celebrate sport together and to race together and to go to different communities and show communities what we can do even though our bodies look a little different.

What does Oiselle mean to you?
Oiselle is empowerment. Oiselle is community. It’s connectedness, it’s togetherness. Being able to move forward together, arm in arm, and being able to advocate for who we are as strong women and what we want our sport to become. You can’t describe Oiselle in one word. But I would describe it in a feeling of having a fire that is kindling inside of you, and an energy that is all consuming for yourself, for communities, for a community of women and being able to push for change even though it's uncomfortable sometimes.

What’s your power suit?
The Lux Swing Tank with jeans and sneakers. I wear Converse almost daily – a flat shoe for my prosthetic leg works best!


REBECCA MEHRA

Littlewing Athlete, world ranked miler, adoratrice du fromage, cat mom, public policy nerd

Follow Rebecca on Instagram + Twitter


“I want to see how good I can be, how fast my body can go. And also in these last few years of my career, I want to make sure I give back and I leave the sport better than I found it.”

Can you speak to the issues you're most passionate about in the running industry?
I think one in particular is representation. I never really thought about my background or ethnicity, but in the last few years I've had so many people reach out to me—I'm of South Asian descent, my dad's family's from India – and talk about how important and awesome it is to see someone that represents them or looks like them in the running world. And I think that that's fabulous. But I think that there needs to be more of us and more representation of all peoples. I think another one that comes to mind is equity and access. I really love getting to do work with Sarah Lesko on Bras for Girls and work with organizations like Wildwood Running PDX and TrackGirlz that are getting track access and running access, and gear access to girls who otherwise wouldn't have it. So I think that's also meant a lot to me.

What do you hope the future of Track and Field looks like in 10 years?
I really hope that we get to a place where technology is not completely directing the future of where we're going. Right now, there's been a lot of bait in the last few years about super shoes. And, and of course, there's the age-old problem of doping. But I'm excited for where track and field goes. I hope it's not as technologically oriented. And I hope it's more about the athletes and athlete stories that've been amazing to hear about. And I just hope we see, you know, a lot more people getting access to the sport than we've ever seen before.

What is your superpower?
I'm very direct and I don't have a problem speaking up on behalf of someone else. So yeah, I guess that can be good or bad. But it's a superpower.

What does Oiselle mean to you?
Oiselle is… I would say the little guy, but, the little woman that's trying to make change and trying to make a difference. And like when I first heard of the company back in 2013 they were signing Lauren Fleshman who was pregnant and that was so revolutionary at the time. I also remember in college watching Kate Grace make the Olympic team and wear the Oiselle kit. (To be honest that kits are just better than anyone else’s.) But it's just a company that's not afraid to speak up for what they care about. Not afraid to kind of get into a conversation that they're not welcomed in. And I think that I identify the morals and values of the company and I'm just grateful that Oiselle has continued with me, too.

What’s your power suit?
The Benjamina Jumpsuit!

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