Meet the Founders

Gemma Johnston - Co-Founder and CEO (paddleboarding)

In July 2022, after a chat over coffee, Gemma defiantly quit her career, sold her house and gave up her much loved campervan to start She Is Action. The decision was based on a lifetime of “but’s” – not from her, but from many wonderful yet under confident women. “But I’m too fat to do that”, “but I will look silly”, “but I don’t know how to get started”. Nobly (or naively) she thought “screw the but’s, it’s time for change”.

A self-confessed chubby kid, she found sportswear off-putting and didn’t want to face her fears on the track or netball court. Finding the thrill of snowboarding and then board sports, was a revelation. Full transparency – Gemma is at least average (if not below average) at everything she does. Surfing is more like constantly trying not to drown, skateboarding is basically avoiding needing full body skin grafts, and she’s so scared of heights she only makes it to the top of a climb 1 in 50 times. But she perseveres. Why? Because she LOVE’S what she does. And she wishes more women could say that.

So, that’s where She Is Action was born.

Yomi, our co-founder, joined the journey in March 2023. Grappling with a sense of belonging, as a person of colour, he understood the longing to be part of something, to connect with like-minded souls, and to be accepted as you are. Growing up in Norfolk, UK, he’d often find himself on the outskirts of the communities and activities that brought joy and camaraderie to others. 

The invisible line was evident, and crossing it wasn’t as simple as stepping forward. When he decided to leave a well-paying job with all the perks, it wasn’t a decision Yomi took lightly. But what’s a comfortable life without purpose? What’s a journey if not a path of your own choosing. 

Meeting Gemma was the serendipitous moment when his passion found its purpose. The seedling idea of ‘She is Action’ resonated, echoing his personal journey and aspirations. It was an opportunity to bridge the gap, to create that sense of belonging for others who might have felt like they were on the periphery.

Yomi Akinlade - Co-founder and CTO (Mountain Biking)

Research shows many areas of struggle for women, one of them being a sense of femininity and what it means to be a woman in 2023. This is mainly because the lifestyle of a modern woman has so little in common with the decades old societal ideal. 

In fact, with 1 in 2 teenage girls dropping out of sport, there is arguably a pivotal moment for young women, where we wrongly feel we have to choose between a stereotypical definition of femininity or a more robust version of ourselves, and that somehow the two cannot go hand in hand. That we’re never good enough.

Gemma and Yomi want women themselves to be able to redefine what it is to be a woman in 2023. And what better way to do that than through sports, where there isn’t even a woman in the driving seat of a formula 1 car, let alone the possibility of one being world champion.

Every woman should have a place in sport and the confidence to find the thing that puts a smile on their face, whether they are good or just trying to stay alive doing it! Sport is not about being the best, the fastest or the fittest. It’s about having a go, getting stuck in whatever your abilities; wanting to do it, rather than having to; being surrounded by other women who share your passion. Above all, it’s the joy of accomplishment and shared celebration – fist bumps, sea-soaked hugs and ear-to-ear smiles. 

And our founders are ready to do something about it.