The Sports Bra, which opened in April 2022, is the first bar to exclusively show women’s sports and empower female athletes.
Portland’s culinary community boasts tons of immensely talented individuals who encompass every facet of the industry. But Jenny Nguyen, owner and founder of The Sports Bra and LGBTQA+ advocate, is making national headlines with her newly opened Broadway Street establishment. The Sports Bra, a bar dedicated to championing female-identifying athletes and only shows women’s sports is the first bar of its kind. And everyone from local publications to renowned magazines, including Vogue have taken notice.
“Representation matters,” says Jenny. “If you can see it, you can be it. When girls grow up and all they see are men on TV playing sports, they have no reason to believe that women play, too.”
In 2020, as our nation amplified the importance of social justice and activism, Jenny wanted to find her own way to make a contribution to foster and nourish a community she so deeply cares for. And she set out to create a space of equity, inclusion, and representation across two industries close to her heart—the culinary industry and sports.
The Sports Bra opened in April 2022, with a welcoming staff and vibrant décor that contributes to the empowering vibe, while highlighting the integral need for more representation and equality in sports. And just as Jenny is passionate about representing women in sports, she’s doing the same for the woman who comprise Portland’s culinary community. The Sports Bra collaborates with brewers like Gracie Nelson at Migration Brewing, Marissa Irish at Herbucha, Molly Troupe of Freeland Spirits for cocktails, and she sources beef from Cory Carman, the owner of Carman Ranch.
It’s truly an honor to be in the same city as culinary and social justice trailblazers, such as Jenny. And we’re tremendously grateful that she took the time to answer some of our questions about The Sports Bra:
MISE: What passions and reasons inspired you to open The Sports Bra?
JN: “I really just felt like there was a need for a space like The Sports Bra, that there was a void where women’s sports could be the highlight and not just the concession. Back in 2020, I was in between jobs and really just was reevaluating my life and trying to find my place in the world that was changing and fluctuating so much at the time. I knew I wanted to do something that mattered, something to uplift and impact our community. That’s when I decided that my idea of The Sports Bra could become a reality.”
MISE: What do you believe The Sports Bra brings to the community?
JN: “At first, I thought that The Bra would just be a place to celebrate women and girls in sports. But now I see that the concept and the mission resonate with so many people in so many different ways. I imagined that it would be a place to watch women’s sports and really celebrate and empower women and girls’ athletics. But now I see that it’s highlighted and uplifted girls and women in so many different ways that is just amazing and beautiful to be a part of. I see now that The Bra brings to the community a sense of belonging, representation and a place to feel seen and safe.”
MISE: Why do you think it's important for young female athletes to see themselves in their sport? How would you like to see female representation change in sports?
JN: “Everyone knows this: representation matters. If you can see it, you can be it. When girls grow up and all they see are men on TV playing sports, they have no reason to believe that women play too. But when you give them access and not just show women athletes, but celebrate them - it’s inspiring! I want to normalize showing women’s sports on TV. I want every bar, hotel, restaurant to put on women’s games like it was normal, but that also means having access to these games. If the media doesn’t show it, how can we play it? And if we can’t play it, how can it grow? It’s an entire cycle that needs to be fixed and really it all starts with investment. We need mainstream media and large corporations to invest in women, hire and promote more women, and pay women. When these changes happen, the rest will follow.”