“Whether you have championship belts to your name, or are throwing a punch for the first time, we are here to welcome you, and to have your back in the journey, wherever it takes you. What matters to us is that you walk into the world, knowing that you are capable of anything.”
Lynn Le | Founder Society Nine
Lynn Le, the CEO of boxing brand Society Nine, believes every woman is a fighter. As a Vietnamese American, Le grew up internalizing dominant expectations of being taken care of and protected by a male counterpart. All this changed when she discovered Krav Maga during a college trip to Israel. What started as an exciting new hobby became a spiritual awakening–a turning point for Le’s view of herself and her life. “There’s a strange feeling of independence and self-sufficiency that strips away some of these inherent patriarchal ideas,” she says, thinking back to throwing her first punch. “You realize that physical power is tied to mental and spiritual power as well. It’s so much more than just fitness, so much more than a cool factor… It’s acknowledging: ‘I am good within myself.’
While teaching kickboxing in 2013, many of Le’s female students asked her for advice on where to obtain gloves that would fit properly. Sadly, the only boxing gloves on the market at that time were big and bubble gum pink, more about kitsch than performance. Seeing the opportunity to merge her personal epiphany with market need, Le sold everything she owned, started a Kickstarter campaign, and invested in prototype development for the first Society Nine boxing gloves. After winning a $15,000 grant from Prosper Portland’s Startup PDX program, she quit her job and dedicated her life to the company.
Society Nine—named after the women’s socialite clubs of the 1920s and the federal Title IX civil rights law—is one of only a handful of brands that make gear specifically for women. In 2018 Le made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and the next year her Bia boxing glove (named after the Greek goddess of force and strength) was recognized as the best-fitting glove for women by athletes and gyms nationwide.
In addition to providing training gear, Society Nine creates a community for women to share their stories and be celebrated inside and out of the ring. The company’s website features personal narratives from fighters of all levels and ages alongside words of affirmation from Le and her team: “Whether you have championship belts to your name, or are throwing a punch for the first time, we are here to welcome you and to have your back in the journey, wherever it takes you. What matters to us is that you walk into the world, knowing you are capable of anything.”Looking ahead, Le is hopeful and focused, viewing Society Nine as a bridge to create meaningful change and expand feminist ideas across political lines. “[Society Nine] create[s] a space in which no matter where on the spectrum you sit politically you can still identify with the notion of self-empowerment—but especially womens’ empowerment—in your own way.”
Author: Emmeline Eao
Photos: Kim Nguyen & Zach Ancell
Published: December 2019