Angel City FC, the Los Angeles-based NWSL expansion team set to begin play in 2022, has added women’s footwear brand Birdies as its second major kit sponsor. The California company will serve as the team’s sleeve sponsor in the four-year deal.
Jessica Smith, head of Angel City’s corporate partnerships, told Sportico that the deal’s value is “in excess of seven figures.”
Founded in 2015 by Bianca Gates and Marisa Sharkey, Birdies has raised $10 million in VC-backing and continues to grow. The company’s Angel City agreement marks its first sports sponsorship, one that will see Birdies’ logo on the right shoulder of home and away jerseys as well as on all authentic and replica jerseys available to consumers. An Angel City-Birdies shoe collaboration is also part of the deal, to be released in the spring of 2022 alongside the club’s league debut.
The footwear brand will join fellow San Francisco-based company DoorDash, announced as the club’s inaugural kit sponsor earlier this month. The food delivery company’s multi-year deal with Angel City includes DoorDash branding on the front of the team’s jerseys. The financial terms of the agreement were not made public, but it was reportedly valued in the low eight-figure range—which would be the NWSL’s largest shirt sponsorship to date.
Angel City’s sponsorship model redirects 10% of the value of any deal to local causes, done in collaboration with each individual corporate partner. DoorDash committed to donate over $1 million to address food insecurity in Southern California over the life of the deal and to bring an estimated 250,000 meals to people in need in the first year of the partnership.
Birdies tied the community element of its sponsorship deal to its mission to elevate and inspire young women, working with Angel City to develop a mentorship and leadership program for young girls throughout Los Angeles.
The partnership hopes to drive positive awareness, fan engagement and revenue for both brands, ultimately “leading fans of our team to become fans of our partner brands,” Angel City president and co-founder Julie Uhrman said. Uhrman added that the ultimate goal, though, is for this, and all of Angel City’s agreements, to be purpose-driven partnerships that simultaneously positively impact the club’s community.
That opportunity was a particular selling point that drew Birdies to the deal in the first place, beyond the rapport the co-founders had established with Angel City. Sharkey described the soccer club as a “mission-driven, female-founded company” similar to her own.
“Having that community element of the deal is a very big part of why we were interested,” Sharkey said. “We loved the opportunity to not just make this about a typical sponsorship but actually do something for the community. Mentorship for young women and creating a community has always been a part of Birdies.”
It’s also part of Birdies’ business strategy, Gates explained, as it is for Angel City—an alignment the shoe company founders hope will translate to the potential customers they’ll reach through the deal.
“We felt strongly that this is where our marketing dollars would work best for us as we grow and scale Bridies,” Gates said, adding that it’s important that potential new customers “know that we’re very much aligned with giving back to the community and lifting up women. Angel City has been so great at demonstrating that even in their earliest days.”
Angel City has is predominantly female-funded and founded. Its founders include Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman, tech venture capitalist Kara Nortman, as well as Uhrman, a media and gaming entrepreneur. The club’s expansive investor group is led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, the husband of Serena Williams, and his fund, Initialized Capital.
Williams and her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., Billie Jean King, and actors including Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria are in the group. Fourteen former soccer players from the U.S. Women’s National Team are also investors—among them Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Lauren Cheney Holiday and Abby Wambach. Other athlete supporters include NFL All-Pro Ryan Kalil, WNBA star Candace Parker, Olympian Lindsey Vonn and NHL All-Star PK Subban.