- Written by Amy Longster
Grace Vella has achieved big things both inside and outside of sport. Released from her club at 18, Grace had a fire burning inside her to go and change the game in football. She set up Miss Kick, which is now a worldwide female footballing brand. Grace is now going from strength to strength, using her experiences in football to create an authentic and exciting organisation that is growing as fast as the women's game itself.
“I always thought that was what I was going to do with my life. That was what I had my heart set on and was what I wanted to achieve.”
After being released from Manchester City at the age of 18, Grace experienced the emotions many sportspeople do when their sporting career comes to an end. A recent ITV News report stated that 88% of young players released from Premier League and EFL clubs said they were anxious or depressed since being released.
“When I was 18 playing and got released, I thought, what am I going to do with my life…I was completely lost.”
When reflecting on her time playing football, Grace acknowledged the challenges she faced through being a female in a male-dominated sport.
“I always felt that being a girl put me at a disadvantage. We were always given kit that never fit properly, or it was too big, or we were given last season’s kit.”
Addressing these inequalities was something Grace felt passionate about, and she wanted to create change in women’s football. During her third year at university, Grace spent a year with a homeless charity which encouraged her to take the opportunities she had and inspired her to follow her passion. It was during this time that Grace had the idea to create ‘Miss Kick’. In June 2018, she launched the female football brand and started to sell her t-shirts at girls’ football tournaments.
“I wanted to do something to try and change things for other young girls growing up, so they did not have to go through what I went through.”
“And this unknown brand that no one had heard of sold 170 t-shirts at the first event. These girls were coming to me and were saying it was amazing that there was something for girl footballers.”
After completing her psychology degree at university, Grace decided to dedicate the next year to grow the brand and gain knowledge to help her set up the business. The variety of skills that Grace developed during her football career were put to good use, and she was able to apply these skills when growing Miss Kick.
Playing sport at a high level means you have got to be resilient, and you understand from an early age the importance of working hard. Building your resilience and that understanding of hard work was massive for me in terms of business."With sales already in Germany and Australia, Grace has ambitions to expand the Miss Kick brand globally and inspire as many young girls as possible. Grace wishes to continue building the company and use Miss Kick to create a platform to increase girls’ opportunities in football.
“There isn't a brand out there at the moment that is shouting out about the women's football community, and we are the only brand in the UK currently who are trying to target the women's football market.”
“It isn't just about the products and making new t-shirts and hoodies, it's about that message that we're trying to put out, and also about the money we're trying to raise. I'm really passionate about giving girls more opportunities to play football and breaking down the barriers that girls have towards playing sport.”
Having built Miss Kick into a successful brand, Grace offered some valuable advice for others looking to start their own business and highlights the importance of being passionate about a business.
“I have learned that making mistakes is the best way for you to grow. Be passionate, ask for advice and test your idea.”
Seek advice from other people who have done it…the majority of people that I have asked for help from, have helped me.”
Grace is an inspiring example of someone that has used their transferrable skills gained in elite sport to pursue another successful career after sport. If you would like to find out more about Miss Kick and support the brand: