Oya Femtech Apparel, the innovative line of performance wear engineered for feminine health, announced it has raised $1.3 million in an oversubscribed pre-seed round. Oya performance wear is engineered for feminine health and comfort using innovative fabrics and sweat absorption technology. Oya’s leggings are twice as absorbent as leading brands. Also, the unique designs provide discrete natural ventilation, significantly improving over current options.
Led by the Sixers Innovation Lab, the round is making history for founder Mitchella (Mitch) Gilbert, who is now one of only 200 Black women to have ever raised over $1 million in venture capital. Additional investors include REI Path Ahead Ventures, R/GA Ventures, an SPV managed by Union Heritage Venture Partners and Techstars Sports.
“Mitch and their team, led by four women engineers, have developed an innovative textile-based technology and product offering at Oya,” said actress Sophia Bush Hughes and venture capitalist Nia Linder Batts. Sophia and Nia are co-investors in Oya and Managing Directors at Union Heritage Venture Partners. They shared that “Oya is solving a problem that many established brands have continued to overlook.”
Intersecting science and style, Oya’s antimicrobial fabrics and patent-pending leggings are designed with doctors to combat the $43.3 billion that U.S. women spent last year dealing with feminine health issues. Common feminine health issues include urinary incontinence, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infections. In fact, the CDC reports that 75% of women will struggle with yeast infections in their lifetimes. Women athletes and performance wear enthusiasts may even be more prone to feminine health issues because of the hours they spend training in workout clothes that retain moisture and don’t allow the body to dry out.
“As a collegiate female athlete, I found myself struggling with recurrent vaginal health hurdles and in the dark about why. Then, many years later, I discovered the leggings I had been wearing were the culprit. Unfortunately, most performance wear is made with spandex blends, which trap moisture and do not breathe. This is not good for women athletes who need ventilation and moisture control,” said Mitchella Gilbert, Co-founder, and CEO of Oya Femtech Apparel. “I took it upon myself to solve the issue by creating a line of performance wear designed with women’s health in mind.”
“As investors and entrepreneurs, we know that less than 2% of venture capital funding is allocated to women, and of that, roughly 0.05% to Black women. When we find underrepresented, passionate founders with great ideas, it is a privilege to invest in them and work alongside them,” said investors Sophia and Nia.
Startups focused on women’s health have become a growing priority for investors since the term “femtech” was coined in 2016. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has increased momentum around developing innovative women’s healthcare products.
“Successful businesses solve real problems. By creating science-backed solutions to female health problems caused by athletic apparel, Mitch will improve women’s lives on a daily basis. We believe in Oya’s mission and Mitch Gilbert’s future impact as an entrepreneur,” said Seth Berger of Sixers Innovation Lab.
Beyond fighting for women’s health, Oya is developing an ethical supply chain. The line is designed and primarily manufactured in Los Angeles. Oya’s fabrics are BPA, PFA, and PFOA free.
About Oya Femtech Apparel
Oya Femtech Apparel was founded at the Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson by Mitchella (Mitch) Gilbert and Patrick Ayers. Oya creates highly functional, quality athletic apparel designed to support feminine health. Oya leggings are the first of their kind to be physician-tested, and athlete approved, with over 60 medical professionals and 200 product testers supporting product development. In an athletic apparel industry dominated by men, Oya advocates for the inclusivity and health of people with vaginas. Additional investors include Urban Capital Network, Seed at the Table, Little Green Bamboo, and Emmeline Ventures. http://www.WearOya.com