Meet the entrepreneur transforming women's football
Entrepreneur Grace Vella hopes the growth in women’s football will turn her eCommerce business MissKick into a global fashion brand.
This year’s Women’s World Cup attracted record TV audiences around the world with 11.7 million people watching the Lionesses’ semi-final loss to the USA while a record crowd of almost 90,000 is due to watch England’s women play Germany in November after the match sold out Wembley Stadium.
As a youngster Vella played junior football for both Liverpool and Manchester City and now plays for Chorley FC Women in the FAWNL Northern Division One.
The 22-year-old launched her clothing brand MissKick in 2018 and hopes its success will finance the MissKick Academy to discover future superstars of the women’s game.
Vella told BusinessCloud: “The profile of women’s football has never been so high but some girls still find it hard to get into football. A lot of my friends dropped out of playing but there’s no reason why it can’t be as big as it is in America.
“The MissKick brand is all about changing perceptions and making girls’ and women’s football more mainstream. I want to see MissKick’s products in shops all over the world.”
Vella started playing grassroots football in her hometown of Skelmersdale when she was eight but found her gender held her back.
“I was made to feel that I should be playing another sport that was seen as more 'girly' or being relegated to the worst pitches,” she recalled. “Being a female player just seemed harder.
“As I got older I realised that this isn't fair and just because I am a girl, doesn't mean I should get any less recognition or opportunities. Launching MissKick in June 2018 was my way of changing this for other young girls and women today.”
Vella, who got a first class honours degree in psychology from the University of Manchester, launched MissKick during her third year of studying after she sold 174 units during a single girls’ football tournament in 2018.
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Vella (left) in action for Chorley Women FC
She launched her own eCommerce business and is on the cusp of hitting her 1,000th sale.
The midfielder got two of her friends – Manchester United stars Ella Toone and Mollie Green – to model MissKick’s products, which include hoodies, T-shirts, training outfits and headbands, manufactured in Spain and China. A percentage from every sale goes to girls’ grassroots football.
“The hardest thing for me is getting the exposure,” she said. “Everything we’ve done has been through the website or pop-up stands. If we’re going to take MissKick to the next level we need some structure.
“I built my own website on Shopify but it’s all trial and error and I use social media a lot.”
Vella has just launched the MissKick Academy and the not-for-profit MissKick Foundation to ensure every girl has the same opportunity to succeed.
“My vision is to create a global MissKick brand underpinned by the academy and the foundation,” she said. “Technology is helping to drive it.”