As the founder and CEO of the wildly sucessful online athleisure store Stylerunner, Julie Stevanja spotted a gap in the market before it even presented itself. It was during her hunt for fashionable yoga gear that she became frustrated at the lack of options available and thus the idea for a luxury retailer for stylish activewear was born. It has been four years since Stylerunner’s inception and since then site has gone from strength to strength. I caught up with the Stevanja to talk the boom of athletic wear, the biggest mistakes women make with activewear and her top fashion picks of the season….
What is a day in the life of you?
Every single day is different. It usually starts off the same – I wake up, do some exercise (or do some yoga stretches at home if I’m short on time!), pick my sister Jasna up on the way to work and we have a coffee meeting on the drive.
When I get in, I say hi to the team and check in with where everyone is at, and then get updated on any deadlines which might need my approval. From then on, my day to day changes. I oversee the strategic direction for all departments, so I could be meeting with the buying team to discuss the brands and products Stylerunner will invest in, working on strategic planning with our marketing team, or working with customer care to devise ways to step our game up that little bit more. For such a fast growing business, I also spend quite a lot of time in recruitment and finding the right people to join our team.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
The Stylerunner journey has been a whirlwind of achievements, but I’d have to say that my most memorable to date would be winning the Young Retail Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the World Retail Awards this year in Dubai. It was the first time for us to be recognised on a global stage to such a large degree. Talk about surreal!
What inspired you to create Stylerunner?
I was working in London at a startup, and going to Bikram classes 5 days a week. As a reward, I decided to treat myself to some beautiful activewear, only to be faced with masculine, traditional sportswear stores. I was really disappointed with the selection!
I came up with the idea for Stylerunner in the middle of one of my Bikram classes. I thought if I was having this problem in one of world’s fashion capitals, then surely women all over the world were also looking for the same thing – beautiful activewear that they could feel great in, but also with a luxury experience much like Net-A-Porter.
Once the idea came to me, I moved back to Sydney, worked incredibly hard for three months and Stylerunner was born.
What is your best advice for styling activewear?
My best advice would be to invest in lots of good basics. Invest in that pair of black leggings that fits you perfectly, the muscle tee that makes your shoulders look great, or that crop that makes you feel confident and powerful. Pieces that you can always fall back on, that help empower you while you’re working out. I also think it’s important to invest in quality compression gear. Compression wear helps you perform better and recover quicker.
Then when it comes to styling, build up your activewear wardrobe with fun, statement pieces for when you want to stand out. And of course, an easy way to update your look is with the latest sneaker. It’s all about athleisure, and kicks are here to stay.
What mistakes do people tend to make with activewear?
The biggest mistake: still wearing your daggy stuff that you’ve had for the past 5 years! Whether you prefer an understated look, or something a little bolder, invest in beautiful high quality pieces that you’ll feel fabulous in whether you’re grabbing a juice on the way to yoga or bumping into a friend on the way out.
Also, people shouldn’t be scared to venture away from brands that they know, to new, lesser known brands. There are so many gorgeous designers out there waiting to be discovered. I’m a big supporter of emerging labels. In fact, that’s why we’ve just launched Radar on Stylerunner – a platform designed to raise the profile of emerging designers in the activewear and athleisure-wear category.
What is the biggest challenge with having an online store?
Having an online store is a huge operation. The biggest challenge is managing the sheer size! There are so many different parts of the business, from logistics to customer care, to buying to marketing – every department needs to function efficiently to deliver the entire experience seamlessly and profitably.
What is the biggest challenge with having an international brand?
As we start to think about scaling globally, we need to consider different cultural preferences, both in terms of content but also what they’re purchasing. We plan to tackle that with localised sites and teams around the world. It’s a very exciting time for Stylerunner!
What has been the most useful advice you have received?
Work on things that are the most important, not the most urgent.
How did you grow your social media following?
Ultimately by sharing great content of beautiful product, and being very inclusive of our community from the start.
We have such a unique product selection, our followers can’t get enough! We view our social media community as just that – our community, our BFFs. We love hearing about what they’re loving, seeing them in our product and sharing the love on our channels. It’s the close relationship that we have to our customers that makes our social media following truly special.
How do you live a healthy lifestyle?
It’s great being surrounded by fit, healthy team members every single day. We’re always inspired to eat a healthy lunch, grab a juice or smoothie and go to workout classes after work together. I also have a yoga mat at home and I like to fit in some stretches in the mornings when I can. My current obsession is reformer pilates – and when you love something, it makes it easier to find the time for it!
What are your top 5 activewear picks this season?
My top picks this season are:
Nike Hyperwarm Tights in Fade
Varley Kingman Tight in Granite Haze