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Future Fund Ambassador: Kayla Alexander

17-minute read

Professional basketball player and Olympian, Kayla Alexander, found her confidence on the court. Off the court, she is committed to helping girls and women find their confidence, too.

Read on to learn how she’s doing so through her company, Tall Size, and children’s book and new business of the same name, The Magic of Basketball.

Q: How did basketball impact your childhood and, as a result, your adulthood?

A: Basketball impacted me as a young child because it showed me its magic and all the positive effects this sport could have on my life. By magic, I mean basketball’s endless gifts; the skills and life lessons learned that have followed me from a child into adulthood. When I realized the profound and lasting impact basketball has had on my life (and continues to, to this day), that became the inspiration of my children’s book that I co-wrote with my sister Kesia titled, The Magic of Basketball.

In the book some of the magical gifts I highlight include the life long friendships I have made through this sport, friends that have become family. The free university education that I was able to earn through a scholarship and all the life skills that came as a result; time management, sacrifice, discipline, building healthy sleeping and eating habits, all of which are skills that I still use to this day as a professional athlete and entrepreneur.

Basketball has allowed me to visit 6 continents, live on 4 of them, visit over 30 countries, learn numerous languages, experience multiple cultures, taste a variety of foods, encounter amazing people and take in the breathtaking and unmatched views of nature. Travel has opened my mind, given me a new appreciation for how blessed and fortunate I am to be Canadian while also teaching me new ways of thinking, living and being.

When I first picked up a basketball at the age of 12, I never could have imagined the ways in which I would change the course of my life (for the better) and shape me into the person I am today. I will always be forever thankful for all the lessons, the challenges, the joys, the opportunities, the disappointments and the accomplishments I have experienced with this sport. It has all molded me into the person I am today, and it is still shaping me.

Q: Involvement in sport is known to have a positive influence on kids’ self-esteem and overall mental health. Can you share how sport influenced your well-being in your youth?

A: Sports had a big influence on me as a kid and my mental health. For one, sports kept me extremely active! Whether I was swimming, running track, playing basketball, or rollerblading around the neighborhood with my friends, sports kept me active, in the sun soaking up all the vitamin D, and gave me a community of friends.

As a child I was really shy, but thanks to sports and the instant community that came with it, I was able to slowly but surely break out of my shell and make friends. The beauty with sports is that it requires collaboration, teamwork, communication, problem solving, camaraderie, and when you begin at a young age you are learning these skills early on. These skills carry over to your everyday life, which I believe helped me with my self esteem, and overall self confidence. It also allowed me to build meaningful relationships with teammates turned friends that I still value today.

I also believe that the discipline, early habit building and sacrifices that we make for our sport as children also builds up our self confidence because it teaches us at an early age of our power. When you see all your hard work payoff as you transform from not knowing how to make a layup at the beginning of the season, to doing a left handed lay up with ease. Or when at first you are a bit overwhelmed with how you are going to balance school and playing traveling rep basketball, but you finish with an above 80 average. Or when at first you are sad and frustrated that you are missing some social events with friends because you have games, or school work, but then you win a medal with your team at the end of the season. All these experiences are building habits, teaching us valuable lessons, but most importantly teaching us how powerful we are and what we can accomplish if we are willing to put in the work.

The self belief we gain as kids through sports, the belief that we can accomplish anything if we put our minds to it, this has an incredible influence on our self esteem and overall well being as kids.

Q: What lessons have you taken from basketball that have you carried through to other parts of your life?

A: There are so many valuable lessons that I have learned from basketball that have carried over into other aspects of my life. I'll try to pick just one, but there are so many!

One lesson that I learned is that like most things in life, confidence is a skillset that can be trained. I was always a super shy kid. I didn't like talking in front of crowds or strangers. What I learned through basketball is that a skill can be developed and mastered if not improved through practice and lots of repetition. So in college, to overcome my fear of public speaking, I decided I was going to tackle it the same way I would any other skill in basketball: practice. So I signed up on campus to be a tour guide during the summers. It was incredibly nerve-racking and so far out of my comfort zone, but I kept showing up for my shifts, shadowing and studying the material. At first, I would tag along and observe the other tour guides. Then I would tag team and add a few points at a couple of buildings. Then before I knew it I was leading tour groups on my own, and with confidence. This can be applied to everything in life, practice improves and can eventually lead to mastery. You just have to be willing to put in the work and consistency and get outside your comfort zone.

Q: What inspired you to share your story in The Magic of Basketball?

A: The Magic of Basketball is the sum of some of my biggest passions: my love for the game of basketball, my love of art, my love for kids, my love for education and wanting to give back. It was through exploring all these passions of mine that I realized I could highlight all of them through writing and illustrating a children's book. I am big on journaling, and will often reflect on my experiences or read my old journals. I realized that this sport had given and taught me so much. I wanted to take these learnings and share them with the next generation in the hopes of inspiring them to believe in themselves, dream big and go after what they want in life. I also really wanted to highlight the power of sports, especially for young girls who are dropping out at a high rate, to show that sports can give you so much out of life… I was living proof.

Through basketball I have gained lifelong friends, one who I started a business with that I am super proud of in Tall Size. I learned important life skills and lessons such as hard work, sacrifice, consistency, accepting failure, asking for help, time management, and so much more. This sport allowed me to gain a free education at a top academic institution that I would not have been able to afford on my own. This sport has allowed me to travel the world, experience new cultures, learn new languages, see breathtaking landscapes, and meet people that I could have only dreamed of. It has also given me some tough times that showed me how resilient the body and mind can be when tested but also highlighted the amazingly supportive community I am blessed with. This sport has allowed me to have an impact on others in ways I never could have imagined. This sport truly is magic through all the gifts, and lessons it teaches you throughout your journey.

I wanted my readers to see that whether they decided to play basketball just for fun or to pursue it at a competitive and elite level, the sport would reward them and bless them in ways they can not even begin to fathom. This is why I wrote this book, to inspire, to encourage, to motivate, to dare the readers (especially young girls) to dream big!

Q: You are the co-founder of Tall Size, a shopping marketplace for tall women. What inspired you to start Tall Size?

A: Tall Size is the brainchild of my childhood best friend Nicole—who was actually the one who got me into basketball in the first place—and myself. We are both tall women who have struggled our entire lives to find clothes and shoes that fit our taller bodies. Frustrated with the lack of options available to tall women, we decided we were going to do something about it, hence Tall Size.

Originally we thought about launching our own clothing brand, but through research we realized a lot of tall brands exist, they’re mostly small businesses that you have to scour the web to find. So we pivoted, and decided to launch a marketplace instead which would make it easier to discover and shop all these tall brands in one location. From there as we grew, we listened to what our customers and brand partners wanted, which was the ability to shop and try clothes and shoes on in person. Yes, believe it or not but as a 6’4 tall woman myself, I am restricted to shopping only online or the men’s section because stores don't carry shoes or clothes in my size. So, from there we layered on pop-up shops that take place across the USA and Canada, that would allow our brand partners to get their items in stores, and that would allow tall women to finally have a normal in-person shopping experience! Along with our marketplace and pop-up shops we also have our Tall Size Pre-loved platform that allows tall women to list the items they no longer wear or want. This platform was a no brainer for a number of reasons: it allowed tall women to shop new items they loved at an affordable price, its sustainable for the planet and keeps more items out of landfills, and it allows the seller to earn cash that they can pocket or put towards new items they love on Tall Size.

Nicole and I are so passionate about what we are building at Tall Size, and it goes so much deeper than giving tall women access to clothes and shoes that fit. For us we love the community of tall women we have and that we are able to help build up their confidence. Society hasn’t always been kind to tall women; if we are not small and petite we are made to feel masculine, when we can't shop in stores we are told that our bodies are abnormal and huge and that we should shop in the mens section. We are not made to feel accepted and beautiful in the bodies we’re in and that has some serious detrimental effects on our self-esteem and confidence. At Tall Size we want to change the narrative of lies that has been told to tall women for far too long. Tall women, of all shapes and sizes are beautiful, are deserving of fashionable, cute and feminine clothes that were designed for their bodies. Tall women exists, are worthy, are loved and celebrated at Tall Size.

Q: We recently spoke to you from a Eurocup game you had in the Czech Republic! What’s next for your basketball career?

A: Last time we spoke I was traveling to the Czech Republic with my pro team (Tango Bourges Basket in France) to play a Eurocup game - which we won! Since then I also joined my national team in Medellin Colombia for a pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament, which we went undefeated, securing our spot for the final Olympic Qualifying tournament taking place in February 2024. There are four pools of four teams that will be competing for 12 spots, and our goal is to be one of the final 12 teams that secures their spot for the Paris Olympics in February!

Being a professional athlete is my current full time job, so most days you'll find me at the gym either training or playing games with my pro team here in France, Tango Bourges Basket. When I am not playing basketball, I am either working on Tall Size, or my other passion The Magic of Basketball Brand, which is aimed at uplifting young girls to become leaders of the future through the game of basketball.

Last but not least, I mentor your girls through NBYMP (National Basketball Youth Mentorship program) a holistic program that aims to empower kids through basketball. At the end of the day, I am big on giving back to my community, especially young girls through basketball because I want them to experience and benefit from all the opportunities sports provided - I am living proof of what this sport can do. Whether they decide to play for fun, a scholarship or go pro one day, the endless lessons, experiences and life skills they’ll gain will alter their lives for the better, and I want young girls to profit because this sport really does give us the tools to become the next leaders of the future.

Q: If you could give your 14-year-old self three pieces of advice, what would they be?

A:If I could give 14-year-old Kayla three pieces of advice they would be the following:

1. Keep God first. He is going to teach you, bless you, challenge you and love you in ways you never thought possible, and take you on an amazing journey all thanks to an orange bouncy ball.
2. Dream Big! Write down your goals, keep believing in yourself and be consistent, you will be amazed at what you can and will accomplish.
3. Stay true to who you are. You are different, and that’s ok, the world needs your unique gifts, qualities and personality. You are perfect the way you are.

Follow along with Kayla on social at @kjalexan40, learn more about her apparel company, Tall Size, and shop her book, The Magic of Basketball and follow The Magic of Basketball brand to stay updated on upcoming events.

Images by: Nicole Breanne

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The Harley Heeled Sandal Ankle Size Guide

How To Measure:
The Harley Heeled Sandal: Take a tape measure and wrap it around your foot, right below your ankle bone as that is where the strap will sit (see product imagery and fit video for a visual demonstration). This measurement is based on the last adjustment point on the strap.

Size Strap length will accommodate an ankle measurement up to the size below
5 26 cm
5.5 26.5 cm
6 27 cm
6.5 27 cm
7 27.5 cm
7.5 27.5 cm
8 28 cm
8.5 28 cm
9 28 cm
9.5 28.5 cm
10 28.5 cm
10.5 29 cm
11 29 cm
11.5 30 cm
12 30 cm

The Esther Heeled Sandal Ankle Size Guide

How to Measure:
The Esther Heeled Sandal: take a tape measure and wrap it around your ankle, above the ankle bone, as that is where the strap will sit (see product imagery and fit video for a visual demonstration). This measurement is based on the last adjustment point on the strap.

Size Strap length will accommodate an ankle measurement up to the size below
5 23 cm
5.5 23 cm
6 23 cm
6.5 23 cm
7 24 cm
7.5 24 cm
8 24.5 cm
8.5 24.5 cm
9 24.5 cm
9.5 25 cm
10 25 cm
10.5 25.5 cm
11 26 cm
11.5 26 cm
12 26 cm

Belt Sizes

Natural Waist Measurement Typical Jean Size Belt Size for High‑rise Pant Belt Size for Mid‑rise Pant Infinite Belt Size
23-25" 23/24 26" 28" 1
25-26" 25 28" 30" 1
26-27" 26 30" 32" 1
27-28" 27 30" 32" 1
28-29" 28 32" 34" 2
29-30" 29 32" 34" 2
30-31" 30 34" 36" 2
31-32" 31 34" 36" 2
32-33" 32 36" 38" 3
33-34" 33 36" 38" 3
34-35" 34 38” 40" 3
36-37" 36 38" 40" 3
38-39" 38 40" 42" 4
40-41" 40 40" 42" 4
42-43" 42 44" 46" 4
43-44" 43 44" 46" 5
44-45" 44 46" - 5

Sizing Note: For the most accurate fit, measure around your body where you plan to wear the belt. Choose the closest belt size to that measurement.

Belt Diagram Accent Belt and Complement BeltThe Accent Belt, The Polished Belt and The Complement Belt size measurements start from the beginning of the leather to the middle hole.

Belt Diagram Infinite BeltThe Infinite Belt size measurements cover the entire length of the leather.

Belt Measuring Guide

Belt Measuring Guide

A - High-rise style:

If you plan to wear your belt around your natural waistline, wrap a measuring tape around the narrowest part of your midsection. Then, add 3” to determine your high-rise belt size.

B - Mid-rise style:

If you plan to wear your belt lower than your natural waistline, you will require a dierent size. If you have a particular pair of bottoms you intend to wear your belt with, wrap a measuring tape through the belt loops while in a relaxed position.

When wearing your belt in your preferred style, it should fasten in the middle hole. The belt will relax with wear allowing you to cinch it tighter, as needed.

If you plan to wear the belt in both the high and mid-rise styles, you have two options:

  1. Select your high-rise style and fasten it more loosely when worn in the mid-rise style.
  2. Select your mid-rise style and fasten it more tightly when worn in the high-rise style.