Q&A: Moolah Kicks founder makes basketball shoes just for women

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By Andi Breitowich
Medill Reports

As a child, Natalie White remembers walking into a basketball tournament and seeing $10 men’s tickets versus $5 women’s tickets and always wearing sneakers labeled men’s or unisex. . Playing basketball since the age of 5, White always knew that female players deserved more. Indeed, in 2019, the NCAA recognized a Budget variance of $13.5 million between men’s and women’s events. Whether he was competing on elite New York City teams, playing collegiate club basketball, or leading Boston College’s varsity team, the 24-year-old was fed up with glaring inequality.

“Women’s basketball represents the intersection between gender, race and LGBTQ issues, but no one is paying attention to it,” she said. In the spring of 2020, White launched the first brand of women’s basketball shoes, built by and for female hoops, with a higher arch, narrower width and narrower heel. Made in Vietnam in one of the best performance sports shoe factories, the shoes are designed with rubber outsole, synthetic leather heel and mesh upper.

The New York native officially launched it first collection in fall 2021, and the $110 kicks are now sold online and at more than 140 Dick’s Sporting Goods stores nationwide.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

How did you choose the name Moolah Kicks?

“Moolah” is our mission in a nutshell. “Moolah” is slang for money, and the slang is a positive nod to the street culture of basketball. Female athletes don’t have the same scholarship or professional opportunities, but “Moolah” means we are a vehicle to create financial change. When girls buy Moolah Kicks, they bet on themselves. They put more money back into the sport they love. We’re building a brand that drives more excitement and celebration around the game, and in return, we’ll be able to sponsor more teams.

How did you decide on the price of the shoe?

$110 is the average market price. Our shoes are affordable, given that there are no other women-specific (made by women) options.

How involved are you in the design process?

Very implicated. I used to stand at games and ask players what they wanted in a shoe. Many players want something simple that will go with their uniform. Other girls wanted crazy colors and to stand out with their shoes. These results have totally informed what we are doing. We have a plain all white model and three crazy color models.

Moolah Kicks in Showcase – Courtesy of Natalie White

Is injury prevention a determining factor in the manufacture of footwear?

Absolutely. Women’s feet are different of men’s feet, and studies prove that wearing men’s sneakers leads to increased injuries in women. I think everyone in women’s basketball has had ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) issues, ankle issues, or both. It’s because they’re not wearing the right shoes and nobody’s doing anything. That’s why our sneakers are designed by women for women.

moolah kicking
Moolah Kicks designed with a slimmer width and mesh upper – Courtesy of Natalie White

How did you decide on the design of the shoebox?

Shoe box

Moolah Kicks Shoebox – Courtesy of https://moolahkicks.com/pages/our-story

I’ve spent my whole life watching basketball games and I’ve seen how hard these female athletes work to find themselves in front of empty stands. We need people to come to our games. The box proves that as consumers and individuals, we have the power to make this change. Outdoors, blue and yellow represent the NCAA’s average attendance ratio for men’s (blue) and women’s (yellow) games in 2019. That’s just the beginning. Inside is a crowd huddled around a court.

How did basketball shape your character?

I got kicked out of the women’s leagues (in New York) when I was young because people thought I was older than my age. When I was 10, I once had 40 points in a game and the parents were upset because it wasn’t fun for their kids. I was forced to play with the boys, so I tried out for the elite teams in Brooklyn and Harlem. I saw what our coaches gave up to focus on their players, and I saw so many of my teammates go on to college. The positive change these people brought through the game was unparalleled. These programs and these people have changed my life.

What’s the hardest decision you’ve made?

Everything about products, deadlines and financing. Factories usually take six months to develop a sneaker and even more when you release new models. We are currently facing very long delays and are trying to speed up the process. We usually ship by sea, but it takes 45 days. Instead, we have chosen to transport our goods by air, and it is expensive. Decisions around freight and production in this supply chain environment have been difficult.

What is the biggest challenge for you as CEO and founder?

Focus. How can I continue to focus on women’s basketball and put all of my effort into the areas that will have the greatest impact?

Where do you hope to see Moolah Kicks in 10 years?

At the feet of every woman’s hoop.

Do you think that’s realistic?

When the girls come into the store and take our shoes, they fall in love. They see our mission, like our design, and then they try on the shoes and realize that they look good on them. Moolah Kicks are made in a way that can be enjoyed by our target demographic, and the response we’ve received has been amazing.

Who has been the biggest supporter of you and Moolah Kicks?

Dick’s Sporting Goods. What they’ve done for Moolah Kicks and women’s basketball is unprecedented. For them, putting our sneakers in over 140 stores is a dream come true – for me, for this brand and for women’s basketball.

Andi Breitowich is a graduate magazine student at Medill. You can follow her on Twitter at @andimora5.



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