It’s no secret that the activewear industry is booming right now. Whether it’s the emergence of trends like sports-luxe and the incorporation with sneakers in every outfit, or even just wearing your active threads far beyond the gym, being a fit girl has become freakin’ fashionable. As you can imagine, it’s a really, really good time to be part of the fitness industry, and even better to be Stylerunner.com CEO Julie Stevanja, because every girl and her heart-rate monitor wants in on this healthy living trend.
Having launched the website back in 2012, it’s been success after success for Julie and her Stylerunner team, who are seriously cashing in on everyone’s existing or new desire to live a healthy lifestyle and look good while doing it. And whether these customers are actually hitting the gym or not, Julie sees no problem with donning activewear for image-based purposes.
“I think that wearing activewear can make people make healthier choices,” Julie tells theFashionSpot. “When we put on our activewear we’re more likely to order a green juice than a shake,” she explains, and makes a seriously valid point. “It would be a bit hard to walk into McDonalds in your active outfit.”
A study called “Enclothed Cognition” backs this notion up, revealing that participants who wore lab coats in the experiment showed increased selective attention compared to those who didn’t. Plus, we all know how differently we feel and act when we wear a new dress out rather than one that has been tucked away in our wardrobe, now, don’t we?
She also sees the decision of putting on your activewear, rather than what you might normally wear, as a step in the right direction towards a fitter life. “They’re choosing something that aligns with their values and maybe they’re not quite there yet, but it’s the person that they want to become. They want to become healthy, they want to make healthy choices and they want to look after their bodies,” she says.
In addition to the popularity of wearing your activewear everywhere, both high-end and mainstream designers and retailers have also swallowed the concept up, releasing collection after collection of sports-inspired wear which isn’t necessarily performance-based.
Julie admits that trends like wearing sneakers with skirts or repping an Adidas T-shirt dress about town is “hugely beneficial, commercially” for her business, meaning she has the ability to essentially tap into two sectors of the market: mainstream fashion and activewear.
“Apart from the actual performance side of activewear a large part of our business is the lifestyle athleisure wear which suits the same market. It’s a huge part of our offering and it really is a huge part of our sales,” she explains.
With such wide recognition and appreciation of the fitness fashion arena, we shouldn’t be surprised that Stylerunner is also killing it on Instagram with over 364,000 followers, although Julie reveals that she’s never paid an influencer to get the company’s name out there.
“We’ve never paid any ambassadors to post anything or regram us but we do have product which we send out to influencers who we think would be really well suited to,” she said. “ We never ask for any regramming, but if our product is amazing as we think it is, people are going to want to share it and more often than not the product that we send out to influencers gets regrammed organically with their own passionate spin on whether they love it and why.”
It’s not just everyone’s new-found obsession with fitness that’s to thank for Julie’s success though; she has worked exceptionally hard and fostered a workplace culture that respects leadership and a shared vision. “When you have a culture of leadership, people really stand up,” she explains, crediting her 30-plus employees for their contribution to the Stylerunner success story.
“They make the decisions that are the best for the business. They become a great example to all of their peers and so it lifts the performance of everyone around you. It’s asking every single person to rise up and be their best, to contribute to the vision and help us get to where we need to be,” she continues.
With an empowering and inspiring attitude like that, it’s not hard to see why at only 34 years of age she’s one of the most looked up to women in the business world, recognised as a finalist for the “Young Executive of the Year” and “Start Up Executive of the Year” at this year’s The CEO Magazine‘s The Executive of the Year Awards on November 26.
She tells us that to take home a win “would mean a huge amount” to her, and that “to be recognised the same night or the same event as some of the most established industry executives would be a huge honour.”
Whether or not she beats other finalists, including Uber’s David Rohrsheim, this woman is a total winner in our eyes. If we can achieve what she has in just three years, well, we’re in a sweat just thinking about it.