August 2016 | The List: 7 Enterprising Olympians of Color

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August 2016 | The List: 7 Enterprising Olympians of Color
Venus Williams

This Lynwood California born tennis star retired from being an Olympic athlete and stated her own company. She founded the clothing line, EleVen, an activewear company that makes performance women's clothing for yoga, fitness, tennis, running, and dance, in 2007. Williams is the first woman since 1924 to win an Olympic gold medal in singles and doubles with her sister Serena. Williams’ fastest serve was recorded in 2007 at the French Open tennis tournament at 128 miles per hour. With her hard work ethic she prepared to begin her clothing line by earning a degree in fashion. Williams’ wanted to create clothing that allowed others to express individuality and make women feel confident. She wanted to create something bigger than the mark she made on the tennis court and is heavily involved in her company’s design, planning, operations, and marketing. On this venture Williams says, “My mission is to get people moving, healthy and feeling damn good about how they look and feel.”

August 2016 | The List: 7 Enterprising Olympians of Color
Jacqueline Edwards

Jamaican born, 5-time Olympian and Stanford University graduate Jacqueline Edwards is a former track and field athlete and the Founder of Tootsies Maternity Compression Socks. Tootsies reduce the discomfort of swollen legs and feet along with the painful side effects that women experience during and after pregnancy. Edwards competed in the long jump and wore compression socks to help with muscle tone, soreness, blood circulation, and recovery. Inspired by her experience as an athlete, and a conversation with a pregnant friend, Edwards found room in the market for this unique product. pulled from personal experience. Edwards earned a degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. She is also NASM certified personal trainer, mom, and author.

August 2016 | The List: 7 Enterprising Olympians of Color
Sanya Richards-Ross

Jamaican track and field sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross had a historical solo victory in the London Olympics in the 400 meter dash, and anchoring the Women’s U.S. relay team to another gold in the 4x400. Richards-Ross remains the most-decorated female American Track and Field Olympian of all time. Richards-Ross holds the titles of Olympian, philanthropist, designer, and entrepreneur. She is the co-owner of The Hair Clinic Salon in Austin, Texas and has her own line of hair extensions called Rich Hair Collection. Richards-Ross saw the need for good quality hair and superb customer service and co-owns the salon with her sister, a stylist with a decade of experience.

August 2016 | The List: 7 Enterprising Olympians of Color
Serena Williams

Williams is a current tennis Olympian that took home the gold medal in 2012 in women’s singles. In 2015 she was named “Sports Person of the Year” by Sports Illustrated Magazine. Williams continues to dominate with a singles records of 770 wins to 128 loses, and a current performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Williams helped to fund the construction of the Serena Williams Secondary School in Matooni, Kenya. Partnering with her charity, the Serena Williams Fund, and Helping Hands Jamaica, she opened the Salt Marsh Primary School. This is the third that Williams has built. Her partnership with Build Africa Schools built two other schools in both Uganda and Kenya. The mission of the Serena Williams Fund is to help “individuals or communities affected by senseless violence, and [ensure] equal access to education.” It funds university scholarships for unfortunate youth in the U.S. She along with her sister Venus, is one of the limited minority owners of the Miami Dolphins football team. She is one of the only two African American women to hold any amount of ownership in an NFL franchise.

August 2016 | The List: 7 Enterprising Olympians of Color
Kristi Yamaguchi

California-born Yamaguchi has been passionate about skating since the age of 6. She competed in the 1992 Olympics in France and won the gold in the ladies singles. She was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2005. Inspired by her career, Yamaguchi created a nonprofit organization called the Always Dream Foundation which improves the lives of children through recreation and education. To support the passion inspired by Newman’s Own, Yamaguchi launched a women’s clothing line, Tsu.ya named after her and her grandmother. She donates a portion of the proceeds to her foundation. The Always Dream Foundation has been featured on ABC News, Huffington Post, and Star Advertiser, Honolulu to name a few. She is the author of children’s books and implements that into the education portion of her program by promoting children’s literacy. She commented in an Open Forum article that starting her own business is a lot harder than you think and it takes time. The former Olympic figure skater wants to grow her brand Tsu.ya in the future. Some of her clothing line can be found at Lord & Taylor stores and in the Chicago area.

August 2016 | The List: 7 Enterprising Olympians of Color
Mary Mazzio

Mazzio is a 1992 Olympic Rower and Founder of the independent film company, 50 Eggs. 50 Eggs specializes in inspirational true stories of individuals in business, athletics, and education. Mazzio was doing pro bono legal work and felt like she wasn’t making a difference, which prompted her to attend film school in her spare time. Newton is an award winning documentary filmmaker and attorney. Mazzio attended Mount Holyoke College and received her J.D. from Georgetown University. You can check out Mazzio’s first documentary, A Hero for Daisy here.

August 2016 | The List: 7 Enterprising Olympians of Color
Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Track and field gold medalist Joyner-Kersee is the first African American woman to win an Olympic medal in the long jump, and the first woman to score 7,000 points in the heptathlon. At the age of 38 in 2001 Joyner-Kersee hung up her cleats. She founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation which launched in Los Angeles California and she relocated it in 1995 to East St. Louis. The mission of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation is “to instill youth in the Greater East St. Louis area with the dream, drive and determination necessary to succeed in academics, athletics and leadership.” Joyner-Kersee faced many trials and tribulations on her journey to success on and off the field. Joyner-Kersee was diagnosed with severe asthma in college and lost her mother the same year. She told Bustle: “Every step of the way I’ve had different challenges, and I think that’s what motivates me, because when I could have given up I found the energy to fight through.”

The 2016 Rio Olympics are well underway as women continue to dominate in an array of sports. From track and field to gymnastics, women of color are breaking records and making history in Rio, Brazil. The resilience of these medal-winning athletes is matched only by the work and endurance necessary to pursue entrepreneurship. 

Like Olympic champions, entrepreneurs must have tremendous focus, determination, passion, and a strong work ethic to be successful.

The List for August 2016 features Olympians turned entrepreneurs of color who have found success in business. Learn more about these enterprising athletes by viewing our gallery:  

Alexis Custard

Alexis Custard is a graduate of Western Kentucky University where she received her Bachelor's in journalism and a minor in political science. Alexis then attended the University of Kentucky and received her Master's in Rehabilitation Counseling. Alexis is currently working on publishing two books she authored. Alexis is passionate about writing, outreach, community development, leadership, and counseling.

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