, Female Entrepreneur, Grace Vella, Hoping “Miss Kick” To Be Step In Right Direction, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Female Entrepreneur, Grace Vella, Hoping “Miss Kick” To Be Step In Right Direction

, Female Entrepreneur, Grace Vella, Hoping “Miss Kick” To Be Step In Right Direction, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Grace Vella, the female founder of the first clothing range in the United Kingdom aimed solely at female soccer players hopes her clothing range “Miss Kick” will tap into an undeveloped niche in the burgeoning women’s soccer market to inspire girls all around the world to take up the game.

Speaking to me this week ahead of the company’s third birthday, 24-year-old Vella told me how her growing international clothing brand began as a whim on a pop-up stall. “I launched “Miss Kick” at my dad’s football tournament. They were very basic, just cotton T-shirts with a print on the front but they did the job, people loved them. They had empowering slogans on like “Girls Score Goals” and “They’re Not My Friends, They’re My Squad”. We’ve come a long way since then”.

Vella revealed to me how a desire to move away from generic training gear to something more specific to women’s soccer and the girls who play the game compelled her to launch her own range. “When I was younger, I felt that there wasn’t a brand out there that represented my identity as a female in the sport. It was very male-dominated. The reason “Miss Kick” was born was because I wanted to give back, I wanted to empower and inspire and give girls that identity, that when they put that top on they feel a part of something. I felt often as a girl, we were like an afterthought, we were never put first. I think that was always what the brand stood for and what I wanted to achieve.”

“Other brands on the market are not specific to the women’s game, they’re more generic. So I think because we are so specific it enables us to focus in on their needs. In my opinion, if you look at the products that are available for women in football at the moment, you either go for your man’s-fit, which is really, really big, or your women’s-fit, which is really, really skinny and tight. Women are all different body-shapes and sizes so I want to be able to give that variety so that every young woman and girl who wants to go and play has the confidence and feels comfortable doing so. I know the product at the moment is very apparel-based, your T-shirts and hoodies, which is more around building a community and feeling part of something. As the business grows, I definitely want to design more specific products. We’ve got some brilliant ideas coming out over the next twelve months which should hopefully really inspire and give girls that identity as well.”

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A youth team player at Liverpool and Manchester City, Vella grew up in the game and was made all to aware of the shortcomings of being a woman in a developing sport. “As much as football was my passion and what I wanted to do. The women’s game wasn’t as developed then. You always had to have a job on the side. As I progressed and got a bit older, that’s when the league started to professionalize and the first full-time players were coming through.”

After excelling as a development player alongside the likes of future England internationals Katie Zelem, Nikita Parris and Toni Duggan, Vella was released by Manchester City at the age of 18, ending her dreams of a professional soccer career. “My ambition was always to try to get to the highest level in football. Sadly that didn’t happen for me. I also wanted to keep up my education so I always wanted to go to university as well.”

, Female Entrepreneur, Grace Vella, Hoping “Miss Kick” To Be Step In Right Direction, The Nzuchi News Forbes

Vella graduated with First Class Honors from her Psychology Degree at the University of Manchester and told me how the skills she honed on her course help her promote her business on social media. “What a lot of people don’t realize about psychology, it’s very statistical-based, you have to look at numbers, you have to interpret data. I think that’s really helped me to understand things like my social media analytics, my sales analytics. Indirectly, it’s definitely given me a bit of an advantage.”

Nevertheless, still short of the necessary skills to break into the business world, Vella signed up for an entrepreneur program run by a British commercial bank. Looking back, she explains how it helped her turn her dreams into reality. “I started “Miss Kick” up when I was at university but I didn’t have any experience, I didn’t have any knowledge. I thought I need help here, because it was just me on my own. I got introduced to the NatWest Accelerator through the university and that gave me a community of other entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off and learn from. I was based, pre-Covid, in a shared working space with other start-ups. They taught me about business-model canvas, financial forecasts. They really gave me those skills that I needed. They were also very supportive in me closing my first round of investment. I’d recommend that to any entrepreneur to try and find other people like you. It’s quite a lonely journey sometimes when you’re plodding along on your own, so to be part of something was really beneficial.”

Like many other retail companies, “Miss Kick” has been forced to adapt into a post-Covid reality but with time to reassess her business model, Vella believes her brand has emerged even stronger than before. “When we went into lockdown, a lot of my revenue, my engagement with the community was in person. We do lots of events, we get out and about. I had planned fifteen events throughout the summer so it really, really shook me up. It gave me time to reflect. It made me think about where I wanted to take the brand, what it looked like. I decided in July last year that I wanted to do a re-brand and because I had that time to reflect and put it all together, we came up with this amazing logo. It was really pivotal in me getting to that next stage of growth.”

“I’d like the product to be quite diverse. I do want the stuff you can wear everyday, that you can wear to go out shopping but also the sportswear, the stuff you can wear to training. Looking forward, I want to look into the more technical products. What females wear to training, different body shapes and sizes, different fabrics.”

Former Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United player Samantha Miller is an advocate of the new “Miss Kick” range. She told me, “I loved Grace’s drive and ambition after speaking with her during lockdown. She gave me background on the brand and how far she wanted to take it. I was happy to get involved and promote it as I think it’s brilliant for young girls to see.”

2.5% of all revenue from sales are channeled into the ‘Miss Kick Foundation’, which from August will be registered as a charity with the mission of empowering more women and girls to compete, play and love the game. Alongside Vella, the Trustees of the charity include Nicky Affleck, former Interim CEO at the London Youth Games, Richard Frost, formerly Brand Director at Nike and Jayna Patel, the Community Programs Executive at the Premier League Charitable Fund. “I want to make sure that I am doing my bit to create a level playing field for women and girls”, explained Vella “both on and off the pitch. We are really excited about this next chapter in the Miss Kick story!”

“For me, “Miss Kick” is about so much more than the clothing. It’s about building that community that I’m super-passionate about as well. We’re actually in the process of launching a community app. During lockdown, we were getting lots of messages from young girls that were struggling and missing their football so we set up a What’s App group chat and we had 30 girls. This has grown now to over 700 women and girls from all over the world. It seemed to really help them and it helped the business as well. We thought this could be something that we could do alongside our product. This community that we are growing on social media at the moment, we are going to transfer over onto our app. This is going to be around connecting women and girls. There’s been so many amazing stories that have come out of it and now we really want to grow that platform and create a safe space for girls to unite from all over the world.”

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