Leadership

Tracky dacks makeover: How the Stevanja sisters are making activewear fashionable and turning over more than $2 million

Cara Waters /

Name: Julie Stevanja

Age: 33

Co-founder: Stylerunner

Julie Stevanja is in the business of selling sportswear, but when I first meet her over lunch at Sydney’s Aria restaurant she’s immaculately dressed in a little black dress.

Forget the tracksuits; Stylerunner is all about fashion forward activewear sold online.

Founded only two years ago by Julie and her twin sister, Sali Stevanja, the business has a turnover of more than $2 million and ships to 65 countries.

I was living in London when we started StyleRunner with my twin sister and we realised this was a global problem, so from the first day we knew it would be a global company.

We worked hard to be first to market. We launched three months after first seeing the opportunity.

As twins we are completely chalk and cheese. We resented that growing up but now in business they are the perfect complement. We look after different parts of the business.

I look after marketing and strategy and buying. Sali looks after the operational part of the business, the dispatch team and the quality control and customer service. 

Never having run a retail store before we wanted to get up and running without a huge investment, we got something up on a fairly simple e-commerce site. But we knew we wanted to become a very sophisticated company which could handle global expansion so we moved to NetSuite.

Pixel perfect is really important for us. We are a very design-driven brand and it is one of the points of differentiation about our online store.

We go so far as to tissue wrap your sportswear and ship it in a box. Why shouldn’t activewear be treated with just as much love?

We wanted a global sounding domain name from the start so we searched for a domain ending in .com purposely and redirected the .com.au to the .com site.

[Activewear] is a little less seasonal than traditional fashion. Leggings sell all year round.

We use Instagram and social media in a way that is open to different times.  We didn’t want to just come across as Australian.

Social media has been crucial for us. As a startup, we started on Facebook and built a community of 2000 people before we launched. That really helped us propel our beginning.

Now we have 172,000 followers on Instagram alone. Apart from the resource we dedicate to it, [social media] is essentially free reach to the perfect demographic.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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