I am so excited to finally be able to share some exciting news with everyone. Today it was announced that I will be teaming up with Oiselle! How did this happen? Well, Oiselle is the French word for bird and this is the story of how I ended up in her nest.
I have been with Nike for 12.5 years. Twice during that time my contract has come up for renewal and both times I was with a Nike coach. So I chose to only negotiate new contracts with Nike and not speak with other companies. This past December 31st, my contract was up again. Once again, Nike wanted to renew, but I had just left my Nike–funded coach to return to Boulder and be coached by my college coaches. This meant I could explore other companies and options. After all, since Nike would no longer be funding my coach, I no longer had to be with them. I wanted to see what else was out there and see how other companies operated.
So began the adventure of speaking with other shoe companies. It was quite the experience. While some were excited and eager to get me on their team, others felt like I was already too branded as a Nike athlete. In January I asked my husband to reach out to Oiselle. I was moving along with a few other more traditional shoe companies, but Oiselle was interesting to me. They seemed like they were positive people, Lauren Fleshman really seemed to like them, and they made super cute clothes. Sally Bergesen, the CEO and founder, and I ended up chatting on the phone. The conversation was easy. It was like talking to a good friend and when she asked if I’d like to come out to Seattle I was eager to take the trip.
Adam, Colt, and I arrived in Seattle over Superbowl weekend. (This was tough on Adam as we were in Seattle when his beloved Broncos lost to the Seahawks). I had the most incredible experience in Seattle. I could not believe how this company seemed to operate with such honesty and integrity. They put importance on family and empowering other women. My heart was bursting all weekend. This company got me and got what running means to me. Everything I learned about Sally and Oiselle made me love them more and more. This was no marketing scheme. These people were real and living to empower and motivate others. I left Seattle more inspired than I have ever been by anything in the running industry. I wanted to be a part of this ‘club.’
A couple of days after leaving Seattle, I got a call from Sally. I was ready for an offer. I knew the company was small and the offer would be smaller than others, but that was OK. I loved them, I was ready to hear the terms of the contract. But to my extreme disappointment Sally said she couldn’t make me an offer. Oiselle just doesn’t have the financial resources or freedom yet to compete in the same arena as the other companies. She said she is a couple of years away. She wants to be my friend. Oiselle loves me, but she cannot make me an offer.
I was devastated. I called my mom and sisters and cried. I felt hope and inspiration in Seattle that I had never felt and now it was over. To make things worse, Sally sent me a care package a few days later. Inside the box were beautiful and amazing clothes. Thanks, Sally, for pouring salt in my wounds.
I had to keep searching, interviewing with people. I kept looking for the passion I felt with Oiselle. I got two great offers from other companies. The people were fantastic and the offers were good, but I was missing the excitement. They weren’t Oiselle.
Adam came home one day and told me that he had been thinking about how he had never seen me so inspired before, how he knew I desperately needed to be with a company that stands for the same values I do. He convinced me that we should call Sally back. That we should ask her to reconsider. It was a Friday night and I was nervous. What if she says no again?! I had a glass of wine (maybe two.) Adam sent Sally a text, she replied, “let’s talk.” Basically I admitted to her that I am in love with her company. That being around her made me feel alive and that my running could have purpose for other people. I told her I don’t want to lose this feeling, I want to be on her team. She listened to us carefully and a couple of days later she made us an offer. It was non-traditional and unconventional but just maybe it could work. Adam and I asked our financial advisor if we could live on this offer. After careful consideration he introduced a new word to our vocabulary – BUDGET – but gave us the thumbs up.
Just when we thought we were ready to join Oiselle, another shoe company that I was very interested in from the beginning, came at us hard. When I told Sally, she did the unthinkable and told me to check it out. She told me to hear their pitch and let her know in two weeks’ time. This is not how this industry works, you usually have limited time to accept a deal, but Oiselle isn’t like most companies. I met with the other company and they had great ideas, cool marketing plans, and great money. Needless to say I would be able to erase the word BUDGET from my vocabulary.
But I was torn. Crying actually. I called Sally and told her a little about the offer without giving her details. She replied, “Damn girl, that’s a good deal.” I could’t stop crying. She told me that it will all be OK, that no matter what I decide I won’t look back.
I hung up the phone with Sally and went for a run and I realized that Sally is WRONG. I would look back. I would always wonder what would have happened if I had listened to my heart and taken a chance on a little flock of birds. I would always wonder what could have been. Could I have helped it grow? Could I have reached other women? Could I have helped change the running industry? Could I have inspired others? Felt proud of myself and the choice I made?
I had to know.
In the end, the choice was really quite easy. I belong with Oiselle. My heart knew it all along and I am so glad that it was speaking loud enough to finally reach my head. With Oiselle I can’t wait to improve the sport, reach my own performance goals, and help women around the world take flight. I have found my home.
Read Sally’s Blog on Kara Goucher joins Oiselle