Manhattan Beach Teen Moves 'Unstoppable' Business ForwardNov 30, 2020 10:11AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Taylor Ryan of Manhattan Beach presents Unstoppable Protective Gear LLC
Manhattan Beach teen entrepreneur Taylor Ryan took her sports protective gear business to the national level - and now she's taking steps to keep moving her business forward.
Ryan, a freshman at Mira Costa High School, won the top prize at this year's Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) competition in Manhattan Beach. Her company, Unstoppable Protective Gear, makes protective inserts for sports bras for contact sports like lacrosse.
"What I can tell you about aggressive sports is that girls will push and they will shove," said Ryan during her presentation. "And it hurts. So I wanted to find some protection. I went to a local sports store and I found a whole aisle, except...it was just for boys."
A quick search online led to a hard plastic cup, which Ryan said was painful. So she designed a cup with a protective outer shell and soft lining to cushion a blow and avoid damage to breast tissue.
Ryan recently competed against teens from around the country at the YEA! 12th Annual Saunders Scholars National Competition and ranked in the top 8 of the entire competition. Following the competition, she came home with renewed enthusiasm for moving forward with her business, Unstoppable Protective Gear LLC.
Currently, Ryan said, she has developed one prototype model of the "Unstoppable Protective Cup" that she will wear as she plays lacrosse. That will help her determine if further adjustments need to be made, such as if it needs to be curved more to the side, or if the material is soft enough, she said.
The Unstoppable protective cups will be manufactured in California, with machine tooling done in China.
Ryan has also created a website and is working with a marketing advisor. "Marketing is really important to do even before you start selling your product because you want to build up your client base," she said.
She added that she hopes to be able to get manufacturing and sales underway as early as February or March.
She plans to begin sales online, and once sports return to full in-person mode, she hopes to make additional sales from sports tournaments.
Currently 8.9 million girls play the most popular high-contact sports of lacrosse, soccer, and basketball, she said, meaning that the market is ripe for this special protective gear.
The YEA! Experience
Ryan participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy's nine-month youth entrepreneurship program, presented by and in partnership with the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(c) 3 offering groundbreaking series of classes and workshops that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the program, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds, and launch and run their own fully formed companies and social movements.
With the help of local entrepreneurs and business leaders, Ryan designed, pitched, and launched Unstoppable Protective Gear, which is aimed at helping women play on the field without the fear of getting injured.
Did YEA! set her in the right direction? Absolutely yes, said Ryan, who noted that YEA! brought in a fleet of advisors and mentors ("even logo designers") who were able to help her every step of the way.
"I highly suggest for any young person starting a business to do YEA! - they really helped throughout the process," she said.
The new session of YEA! is currently underway, with the next round of winners to be announced in May.
More information about the national YEA! competition is available here, as well as a video of the full competition in October.