Natalie White’s approach to attracting the attention of one of America’s most recognizable businessmen — Mark Cuban — wasn’t anything remarkable.
Rather, it was quite simple. The 25-year-old founder/CEO of Moolah Kicks, a shoe brand focused solely on women’s basketball, started with an email.
“I got his email right from his LinkedIn,” White told the Sun-Times. “We’re one of a few companies that he’s ever invested in off of a cold email.”
White founded Moolah in 2020 while attending Boston College with the mission to celebrate what makes the women’s game unique. The idea came to her, in part, after she saw an ad that featured WNBA players holding up sneakers named after NBA players.
“What is the message here?” White thought when she saw the ad. “What are we teaching the next generation of women? That you could be the very best in women’s basketball, but at the top of your game, you will still be wearing, promoting and selling a sneaker named after someone else and a game that isn’t ours?”
White got to work researching the differences in male and female biomechanics and how those differences weren’t being acknowledged by the sport’s biggest brands. As a result, White found women were at a higher risk for injury and overall discomfort playing in sneakers that weren’t built to optimize their performance.
After establishing there was a gap in the market, White began working with industry professionals to design a basketball shoe for a woman’s foot.
“We created a female foot form with basketball needs in mind by talking to podiatrists, trainers, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and the whole Boston College training staff,” White said.
From there, White had to find a manufacturer who could create the last, which in footwear terms is a mechanical form shaped like a foot that’s used to create a shoe. She called Jones and Vining — a top last manufacturer in the world — 22 times before they agreed to meet with her.
In three years, Moolah Kicks — carried exclusively by Dick’s Sporting Goods — has gone from its original silhouette, the Phantom 1 in 140 stores, to a full line of sneakers for every position in 450 stores nationwide.
To date, Moolah has secured over 60 NIL deals.
In 2022, Sky guard Courtney Williams partnered with the brand.
“I was wearing Paul George’s, Giannis’, and then I went to Kyrie’s and my last shoe was Kobe’s,” Williams said. “Every time I had to break them in. It would take me like two weeks to break them in, and once I broke them in, I’d stick with that shoe the entire season. This was the first season in my career that I could switch out shoes.”
Williams’ shoes are a form of self-expression, and the freedom to switch out her shoes from game to game added to her confidence on the court. Partnering with Williams was a no-brainer for White, who said the All-Star guard is everything Moolah represents.
White’s ability to garner interest from investors such as Cuban and partnerships with players such as Williams appears effortless, not because it is, but because the mission she built Moolah around is undeniable.
“What Moolah is about is making girls feel seen,” White said. “One of the driving factors of Moolah was the experience of being a young player and often feeling frustrated by the difference in resources between the girls’ and boys’ teams. Often feeling like no one is acknowledging or respecting your game.
‘‘It’s about creating a feeling of not only is there a sneaker for me, but there’s a brand who is solely here to celebrate my game.”