She's 4 Sports - Own It

Noora Popal
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The founder of She’s 4 Sports, Ainka Jess hosted an evening full of excitement and learning opportunities with discussions from a panel full of talented and inspiring female entrepreneurs, Tuesday evening at the Ryerson School of Journalism. 

The “Own It” event was an excellent opportunity to learn from the best in the business and to get out and network with people in the sports industry. The panel of six extraordinary women talked about the importance of perusing what you love and taking risks to make your dreams come true. 

Many of the panelists advised the audience to get out and to create their own content and to do things that will make them stand out compared to others. Using social media as a tool was a suggestion that was made by many of the panelists, and also that you don’t have to have extensive education in this industry, that you can be good at doing more than one thing.

The panel included a group of very talented women. Kat Stefankiewicz, the in-game host for the Toronto Raptors, among many other things, gave great advice about reaching out to people in the industry and to create your own content. 

Caroline Wiley (Co-founder of "SeeWhatSheCanDo"), Caleigh Rykiss (Founder of BOLO Inc.), Nichelle Laus (Owner of Optimum Training Centre) and Jennifer Huggins (Owner of Kingsway Boxing Club) were a few of the other panelists that joined the event. They gave their advice on many things regarding owning a business and learning from their mistakes and failures. 

One of the panelists, who joined the group through a Skype video call was Esther Wallace. Esther Wallace is the founder and designer of "Playa Society". 

"Playa Society" is a clothing brand created to empower women in sports. It’s a sportswear company that is meant to shine a light on the issues women in the sports industry face. 

Wallace said, “staying focused, talking myself through things, being strategic is how I ended up at the point where Playa Society developed and became a brand”. Esther mentions on several occasions how she felt that women, especially women of colour, were very underrepresented in the sports industry. It was important for her to create a company that acknowledged female athletes. 

She began designing the company in 2015 and it was established in 2018. Each t-shirt is designed to have a powerful message written on the front of it. An example of one of her t-shirts is “FEMALE ATHLETE” with the “FEMALE” crossed out to emphasize the idea that women don’t have to be labeled as female, they are just athletes.

For Esther, gender equality in sports is particularly important because many young girls avoid playing sports because there is not enough representation or coverage of females in sport. 

Additionally, Wallace is blown away by the support she’s received for her company and is working hard to keep developing it.  She said, “everyday women who message me on social media … share their stories of how they’ve overcome different types of gender bias”. 

Also, a piece of advice that she gave young females who want to start their own business was “the most important thing is that there is never a perfect moment where everything is going to come together”. To just dive in and do what you need to become successful.

All in all, this event gave everyone in attendance a great chance to interact with entrepreneurs in sports business who have a long list of experiences and advice. A fantastic night filled with lots of important discussions and learning opportunities.