Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. – Langston Hughes
In the early months of 2020, the world found itself adjusting to a sudden, unprecedented pause. Time almost seemed to stand still, the pandemic forcing people into the unwelcome state of acclimating to dreams deferred.
Shaun and Mycah Maye-Williams were one such couple. Newly married, the bookings for their elaborate wedding plans had evaporated in light of the international crisis. Months of thoughtful planning ran down the drain and the two opted for a small civil ceremony. But two things remained: the savings they had set aside to cover their now cancelled dream wedding – and what to do next.
Night after night, against the backdrop of incredible uncertainty, Mycah and Shaun had conversations well into the wee hours; unpacking the current state of the world and the positive changes they wished to bring to it. They spoke of inclusion, empowerment and celebrating diversity in all of its forms. They felt called to make a difference and so together a legacy that they – and their future children – could be proud of. The question was: how?
Shaun is no stranger to adapting to life’s sudden curveballs. He loved sports, but to his disappointment, was cut from his school’s baseball team. Despite not picking up a baseball for the first time until 10th grade, he was determined to perfect his skills – and he did just that. He not only became a baseball instructor, but his newly-honed gifts shined so bright that a talent scout passing through happened to observe him coaching and filmed him in action. This led to Shaun earning a baseball scholarship to Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska, where he became the first African-American pitcher in the school’s history.
Growing up, Mycah was a talented gymnast, going on to land a highly competitive position dancing for the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre for seven years in their Junior Level A Division.
Throughout the years, athletics have continued to be a huge part of Mycah and Shaun’s lives.
Ultimately, it was out of those late night conversations back during the early days of the pandemic that Maye-Williams Active was born. Their aim was to make waves, offering what the mainstream activewear companies were not: all-inclusive, clothing and marketing catering to every body type, color and identification (non-gender labeled options). They wanted to provide top-quality sportswear and products for everyone. Finding holes in the market, they sought to fill those gaps. Making high-quality and fun activewear for people who are often overlooked and under-represented in mainstream activewear brands remains their top priority.
Mycah’s strong presence on Instagram created the ripple effect that put Maye-Williams Active on the path to success. “As a model and actress in Los Angeles, I leveraged my platform and started to bring awareness about the lack of diversity in activewear and what we wanted to do about it on social media.” She wore Shaun’s designs and posted them, having fans vote on what styles they liked. This gave potential customers the opportunity to join in on their journey and to help form the company they strived to create. Followers commented and shared their thoughts. And before they had even launched the business they built up a strong community. This feedback also helped them gain the confidence to forge ahead.
It hardly seems a coincidence that only a few years earlier, it was thanks to Shaun’s enthusiasm for Mycah’s Instagram that brought them together in the first place!
“We met on Instagram after he was liking all of my photos back to back. When I checked to see who was blowing up my notifications, I saw this cute guy…so I slid in his DMs and said, ‘Why don’t we know each other?’ His reply, ‘I don’t know, but we can make it happen.'”
A romance and a business partnership born out of social media and a pandemic, Maye-Williams Active is clearly a story of success that could only happen in our times. When so many are facing unspeakable hardships, Mycah and Shaun want to show others that, with faith, trust and determination, it’s possible to transform a disappointing situation into a splash of something extraordinary!
Maye-Williams Active™ is a 100% Black-owned activewear company founded by husband and wife duo, Shaun and Mycah Maye-Williams. They live in Los Angeles with their rescue dog, Aires.
Pictured: Maye-Williams Active founders Mycah and Shaun Maye-Williams
What would you like people to know about your journey?
Mycah: Being a black actress and model starting out, I would go on auditions and noticed a lot of the time I was the token black person to show that a brand is inclusive. So, when we started this company we wanted to approach these issues right from the start. We have so many friends of different backgrounds. I want everyone to know that, we are thinking about them. We want them to be seen, feel beautiful and know there’s not one body type that’s healthy and not one body type that’s “fit,” so to speak. We wanted to break that mold and barrier. Knowing how it feels to not be represented was one of the driving factors I used to start casting for diverse models and influencers when we started the company.
Shaun: The basis of our business and our marriage is love. We use a marketing style that is based on honesty. During the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of big companies were rushed to say, “Oh yes, we have diversity and inclusivity,” and all of that. They were forced to do that. We wanted to show that from the start and it was not because of something that forced us to do it.
What advice do you have for others wanting to start their own business?
Shaun: Whatever your goal, it’s not a race. You just make sure that you stay focused, do what you can handle. Don’t be in a rush to become successful. Make sure to take the appropriate steps to help you get there. Just getting started holds a ton of people back. Just start. Grow your circle.
Mycah: Time management so you don’t get burnt out, taking care of yourself, and spending time outside of business and work is one of the main things that we’ve had to learn and grow over time.
What do you love most about your work?
Shaun: Like we say, “The brand is made with YOU in mind,” and we’re grateful for the messages we receive from customers saying they love our clothes, commenting on how much they appreciate the variety of sizes and options we offer.
Mycah: That our customers feel beautiful and seen in the clothing we create. Knowing that we’re actively building the change and the future that we want for our children, the community, and ourselves.