After years as an athlete and product designer with a love for women’s health and sportswear, Mitchella Gilbert one day found herself at the doctor’s office with a yeast infection. Puzzled by how it may have started, Gilbert turned to her OB-GYN who shared, “If you want to reduce the frequency of your yeast infections scale back on wearing leggings. ” Gilbert was shocked when hearing her OB/GYN share that this was a common issue for millions of women that loved working out. That moment was the spark that will changed everything for Gilbert.
Within the months to follow Gilbert conducted research that concluded that the doctor was right. Most leggings along with spandex blends have the potential to trap moisture in the vaginal area which can throw off the balance of healthy feminine bacteria plus create an environment for pathogens that cause infection to thrive. Gilbert saw that there wasn’t a company addressing the issue and co-founded Oya Femtech Apparel to create a new legging that had a breathable, replaceable pad, in addition to panels of which promoted ventilation around the particular inner thigh.
In a little over a year to follow along with, typically the innovative performance wear, the fact that has been physician-tested and even athlete-approved, has raised $1. 3 million to scale following an oversubscribed pre-seed round.
At The Intersection of Science & Style
Gilbert’s vision is that Oya’s antimicrobial fabric-based leggings can combat this historically $43. 3 billion or more U. S. women spend annually in order to navigate womanly health issues–including bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infection, ringworm, folliculitis, and urinary : incontinence. With athletic wear serving as a commodity for women athletes together with enthusiasts, and the boom associated with athleisure , she has found solutions to decrease or prevent feminine health issues to be prime importance.
This solution-driven vision inspired the name of the brand, Oya. “Oya is a mother goddess from Nigeria’s Yoruban mythology that symbolizes rebirth, fertility, and additionally storms. I thought Oya was the great name for a sportswear company fighting feminine wellness issues together with patented designs and textiles, ” says Gilbert. Her years regarding experience inside tech, product design, not to mention retail, combined with participation in UCLA Anderson’s Venture Accelerator allowed Gilbert to be able to merge the girl passions in the launch the woman fourth company, Oya, alongside co-founder Patrick Ayers.
Today, Gilbert and also her co-founder’s patent pending fabric is one of the firsts of its kind to be physician-tested as well as athlete approved—by over sixty medical professionals and hundreds of item testers—prior for you to going to help market. Denoting the research and feedback leveraged to develop often the fabric, Gilbert shares: “Oya’s leggings are twice as absorbent as leading brands using unique styles that provide discrete natural air flow, significantly performing over current market options. ”
The Funding Creating Opportunities & Expanding FemTech Apparel
In an industry such as sportswear where men account for larger market sales and share , Gilbert says “Oya is advocating for your inclusivity plus health involving people having vaginas. ” Similarly within the tech in addition to venture capital realm, Gilbert is joining the ranks of a growing cohort connected with merely 200 Black women to have ever raised over $1 million in venture capital. The girl round led by the Sixers Innovation Lab, includes REI Path Ahead Ventures, R/GA Ventures, a new Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) managed by Union Heritage Venture Partners, and Techstars Sports.
“As investors and even entrepreneurs, we know that relatively 2% of investment capital funding will be allocated to women, together with of that will, roughly 0. 05% in order to Black ladies. When we find underrepresented, passionate founders with great ideas, it is some sort of privilege to be able to invest in them and additionally work together with them. Gilbert and your ex team, led by four women engineers, have developed an innovative textile-based technology not to mention product offering at Oya, ” said Sophia Bush Hughes and also Nia Linder Batts. Hughes, notoriously known for acting roles in One Tree Hill and Chicago P. D. , as well as Batts, formerly one with the youngest Black executives of a good media conglomerate, are managing directors at Union History Venture Companions and co-investors in Oya.
Research has indicated that a growing priority with regard to investors offers been for you to expand their investments to support diverse consumer needs and women’s well being. More specifically, the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022 has accelerated a focus on innovative women’s health-related tech plus products. Oya’s investors particularly believe the exact femtech apparel company is usually primed to help address your need that many larger organizations are overlooking. And to continue to expand on addressing this need, Oya is developing an ethical supply chain leveraging fabrics are BPA, PFA, and PFOA free.
“We are now getting ready in order to launch our second version along with new tops. Our legging is definitely now patent-pending and we are on our own third collection of tops and bottoms that absorb moisture, decrease bacteria, in addition to increase natural ventilation, ” says Gilbert.
Gilbert’s Longterm Thoughts On the Athletic Wear Field
Longterm Gilbert believes it will be important for athleisure leaders to look more introspectively in the unmet needs for customers when developing lines of athletic wear. Some customers are considering and others are learning to consider the following as they become a lot more educated about sportswear of which supports wellness:
- Choosing The Right Sports Bra : “Customers are usually thinking regarding comfort, their own activity levels, their cup sizes, and even paying attention to materials–i. e. trying to find fabrics that are BPA-free. ”
- Choosing The particular Best Leggings Length : “Customers are beginning to consider the activity–i. e. running shorts vs hiking pants—and choosing fabrics by selecting those that are BPA, PFA, together with PFOA-free. There are many cancer-causing agents in most significant brand fabrics. They are also bearing in mind their particular height and additionally body type to be able to balance comfort and coverage based on the activity they are partaking in. Lastly, they may be considering what waistband or protection they prefer; waist sculpting, mid-waist or V-cut, styles that give some differing look and feel that detract or add to support they need. ”
Overall, Gilbert is excited for what the future may hold and the unique opportunity to contribute for you to the sports wear field with Oya Femtech Apparel.