Allyson Felix Hopes to Change Industry Norms with Her Sneaker Brand's New Maternity Returns Policy

Allyson Felix's lifestyle brand Saysh is offering expecting mothers a complimentary new pair of sneakers should their shoe size change during pregnancy

Allyson Felix wants to make sure no woman has to choose between pregnancy and comfort.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the 36-year-old, who is the most decorated American track and field athlete of all time, discusses the inspiration behind her lifestyle brand Saysh's new Maternity Returns Policy and her hopes to "create a better world for women."

The mom of one, who recently announced her upcoming retirement at the end of the 2022 season, has long been an advocate for maternal and equal rights in sports, and she tells PEOPLE this initiative felt like a "natural" next step.

As part of the Maternity Returns Policy, Saysh is offering expecting mothers (who have previously purchased a pair of Saysh Ones) a fresh pair of sneakers should they experience a change in shoe size during pregnancy.

"As we do things and create products, we want to make sure that we are trying to do things to create a better world for women," says Felix. "I feel like this is in line with that and is a way for women to really feel seen. Even though we're a small company, it's something that we felt was important enough to take that step forward."

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The Olympic medalist, who is mom to 3-year-old daughter Camryn, says she was "shocked" that other companies have yet to implement a similar initiative.

"I had talked to so many women who had that experience and were like, 'Oh, I had to buy all new shoes.' And [this initiative] is a way that we could address that," she explains. "That's what we're looking for — a way where we can really show up for women and make sure that they are seen and heard."

Felix says she hopes the Maternity Returns Policy will get the ball rolling for other companies as well. "Eventually we hope these things will become industry norms and the only way to do that is to start and to hopefully, have other people jump in as well."

The athlete also opened up to PEOPLE about her decision to retire at the end of this season and gave a sweet update on her daughter, whom she shares with husband Kenneth Ferguson.

Last week, Felix announced her retirement news in a heartfelt Instagram post, telling fans that she's given the sport everything she has and will spend her final season simply enjoying the track.

"This season I'm running for women. I'm running for a better future for my daughter. I'm running for you," she said at the time.

"I felt like this season, if I continue to run, my voice would be louder if I was still on the track," Felix tells PEOPLE. "And so that was really my motivation of saying, 'I want to do one last season. I really want to focus on these things.' This is a great way for me to also say goodbye to the sport that I love."

allyson felix and daughter
Allyson Felix and her daughter Camryn. Ashley Landis/AP/Shutterstock

Felix says she's also looking forward to having more time to "be present at home" once hanging up her running sneakers.

"I think just being present, being able to do more things at [Camryn's] school and having more time," Felix says of what she's most excited about upon retirement. "We enjoy just going to the park or playing in the backyard."

"[Camryn's] doing swim lessons now, so being at some of her lessons, all of those things, seem like small things, but with just my schedule and all of that, it's been really hard."

The track star also notes that Camryn is currently "all about her friends and playing soccer."

Adds Felix, "I'm seeing her personality more, just talking and she keeps us laughing all the time."

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