The idea for Activyst came on a Nicaraguan beach in 2007. Founder Katie Rock was traveling and spending time running, swimming, and surfing (poorly). Local girls asked “What are you doing? Girls don’t do that.” She found out they'd never played sports… EVER. She began to notice boys playing sports on every street, field, and beach, but where were the girls?
She became mildly obsessed with a thought: what if sports could be a tool to improve girls’ conditions? Leigh, her college tennis teammate, and Blair, a former co-worker, were also pumped about the idea. They discovered research proving that sports have enormous benefits for women – benefits that matter from an international development standpoint.
Katie returned to Nicaragua a few years later to promote girls’ sports with the World Health Organization. She learned a TON about barriers to girls' sports (learn more here). She also fell in love with the bright, durable “macen” material used by the locals. The idea clicked to make cute gym bags for active women and help more girls be active too. Leigh and Blair were immediately on board to make it happen.
After (a lot) of prep, in March 2013, they did a crowd-funding campaign which raised $68K, had 510 awesome supporters, and funded 3 non-profit partner projects and bag production. They now sell durable yet cute gym bags, gym totes, cosmetic bags and t-shirts for women. Creating something of value for the women who buy their products and the girls who benefit from them is, to them, the ultimate win-win.