Friday, September 22, 2023

An idea that came to life in Iowa City, Iowa, has led to apparel being worn all over the world.

Jaecee Hall is a member of the University of Iowa women’s rowing team and her search for clothing that recognized her as a female athlete led to the creation of Unbreakable Female Athlete.

“I searched online for a T-shirt that would signify that I was a female athlete and I couldn’t find anything,” Hall said. “So, I thought I should make the shirt myself.”

After conferring with roommates and teammates, Hall settled on the word unbreakable because it is an umbrella term that resonates with females of all ages. She used a Cricut machine to make the first T-shirt, wore it to practice, and a business was born.

“I am now selling apparel in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Germany,” Hall said. “I have seen it sell all over the world. The coolest thing is that this has gone from an idea in Iowa City to my apparel being worn all over the world.”

Hall’s company has been named undergraduate Student Startup of the Year by the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) and will be recognized Oct. 20 at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Honors event.

A native of Ankeny, Iowa, Hall earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in international relations in the spring of 2023. She will finish her fourth year of rowing eligibility in 2023-24 while pursuing a master’s degree in sport and rec management. When she isn’t practicing in a boat on the Iowa River, she is promoting the message of Unbreakable Female Athlete: to create an empowering community and culture for young girls and women.

“I am the first one to tell you I have no idea what I am doing and I am the first one to say I wake up every day and it’s a new day for my business and it has kind of a snowball effect,” Hall said. “I keep gaining momentum because the time is now where you either hop on board and support women, or get out of the way because we’re coming.”

According the Hall, Iowa JPEC gave her resources for “anything and everything.”

“I had no idea what I was doing, but through Iowa JPEC, I had access to lawyers, tax advice, and the support system to bounce ideas,” she said. “It helped elevate my business instead of me sitting here by myself going ‘What the heck am I doing?’ I had people who knew what they were doing and had been there before.”

Because of the popularity of her company, Hall has started a podcast and has spoken at schools about what it means to be a female athlete and how to create an empowering culture for them. A portion of the sales from Unbreakable Female Athlete apparel is donated to grass roots female athlete organizations. 

Hall credits her rowing teammates for having a hand in her winning this award.

“They are the people who have pushed this brand out there and really embodied the idea,” Hall said. “I have a good support system.”

A support system that also includes Iowa JPEC.

Undergraduate student startup of the Year    
2023 Jaecee Hall Unbreakable Female Athlete
2022 John Hatfield ChordaWorm Lures
2021 Alyssa Claydon ABC'd Therapy & Consulting, LLC
2020 Andrew Austin/Nate Elsner Peak3 Digital