Title Nine. For women, run by women, and all about women. There’s not a lot of brands that can say they’ve been around for fifty years, and yet here we are. Founded by Missy Park, a former college basketball player who grew up in the early era of Title IX—the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at all schools and universities—Title Nine has been making women’s athletic apparel for decades.
Title Nine Founder Missy Park on Her Brand's Evolution and Supporting the USWNT
The apparel brand has been in business since 1989
Of course, there’s also a new CBA for the USWNT that will make sure the team is now paid equally. The agreement has also given the women’s team $22 million dollars in back pay.
We spoke with Missy about the brand’s longevity this past week.
ONE37pm: Great to be chatting with you Missy! How did you come up with the idea to start this brand?
Park: You know, I just sat on a panel, and it was interesting because there were ladies there from each decade, and they were giving their experiences of being a woman in their field. I was born in 1962, and Title Nine, which must offer girls and boys equal opportunities in both the sports field and classroom, came about in 1972, and you had to come into compliance in 1976. That was my first year of high school, and I was able to play collegiate basketball at a collegiate level.
If it weren’t for Title Nine, I wouldn’t have been able to coach at a Division I level either. When I was kid, I didn’t know men and women not having equal opportunities wasn’t fair. I was just a kid, you know? The biggest thing I learned through this was that, every win for women was perceived as a loss for men, and we had to deal with uniforms not fitting that good and things of that nature.
ONE37pm: Could you talk a little more about the early stages of the Title Nine Brand?
Park: The desire came from a need of our own. I was a small or extra small jersey in mens, and felt like we really needed something for women. This might have been naive of me at the time, but I looked at brands North Face and Gary Fisher Mountain Bikes, and figured that if they could do it, then I could start my own women athletic’s line.
Title Nine started in 1989. In terms of post-collegiate Division I athletes, there were only seven of us in the whole country. I mailed out flyers and tried to get the business going, but it wasn’t until I added sports bras (which at the time had jock straps attached to them) that I really began to see success. That set the stage for us, and we built it from the ground up for women. We went through both small and large failures, but now we have sixteen retail stores, 300 employees, and $100 million worth of sales.