Career Code: Meet the Woman Who Overhauled Activewear in Australia

In honour of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s new book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($22), we’re kicking off an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honour of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the fashion industry. So far, we’ve tapped Pip EdwardsRebecca MinkoffSally SingerRachel Zoe, and more. Up next? Julie Stevanja.

Are you wearing leggings and sneakers right now, but not heading to the gym? Chances are you owe it all to Julie Stevanja, founder and CEO of Stylerunner—the world’s first online store specifically for activewear. Since 2012, when the site launched, it has amassed almost half a million social followers, and stocks an impressive list of leading brands like Adidas by Stella McCartney, Camilla and Marc, and Alo Yoga.

No one can deny the impact activewear has had on the fashion industry over the past few years; we’re spending more and more time in our gym gear, and we think it’s all down to Stylerunner. The website made activewear cool when (from memory) it was all neon and fluro and only fit for the gym. Stylerunner came along with a curated mix of elevated separates, and brands we actually wanted to wear in and out of the gym. Suddenly, working out actually became fun.

But—Julie is more than just Stylerunner. She’s an entrepreneur, a go-getter, a thinker. She’s constantly pushing the brand forward, and working with her team to drum up what’s next—which is why we had to know more. Read on to discover how Julie stays motivated, what she wore to her first job interview, and more.

My dream job! Every day is different and running your own business comes with its challenges, but it’s incredibly rewarding. I get to work with some of the biggest brands in the world and I love coming to work every day.

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I think people would be quite surprised at how hands on I am—I enjoy helping my team, and I do some of the smaller things myself to help out. With projects I feel close to, I’m passionate about refining all of the little details. For example, we just launched our editorial arm Triple White and I actually browsed for dozens of hours just to find the right font for the logo!

Depending on the project, as was the case with Triple White and Radar (a new platform we launched on Stylerunner which supports emerging designers), I worked incredibly close with our graphic designers and web development team and got stuck in. I’ve tried to educate myself on all of the different parts of the business, from researching advertising plug-ins to researching hosting and testing.

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@juliestevanja

My first job interview was 20 years ago! I imagine it would have been black pants, black Clarks shoes and probably a white shirt… that’s what 15 year old Julie would have worn!

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@juliestevanja

Natalie Massenet or Carmen Busquets.

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@juliestevanja

When it comes to the activewear and athleisure categories, I turn to social media—it’s where you find the latest and greatest. I’m lucky that I have a team who are so driven to finding the hottest trends, and the next big thing—I might be biased, but Stylerunner’s Instagram and Triple White are top of my list.

I also read Business of Fashion for industry news, keep updated through industry newsletters, and I turn to Twitter for thought leaders.

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@juliestevanja

As an introvert, in my early career I regret not being a stronger force. I was shy, and now looking back, I wish I came out of my shell sooner and focused on being heard.

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@juliestevanja

Firstly, I focus on the applicant’s energy and passion—being the right culture fit for Stylerunner is incredibly important, as we’re a high-performing team and I want to find the right person to fit in. I would say that confidence and conviction in their ideas is also an attractive quality, as well as expertise in their field.

I’m impressed by people who can articulate their ideas and can demonstrate a clear thought process, and when I’m hiring, I’m on the lookout for people who show that they have direction and purpose for their career.

Most of all, the most important quality is someone who is a true believer in the business!

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@juliestevanja

My go-to is a dress and blazer paired with sneakers. I feel the most powerful and productive when I’m dressed comfortably and this combo ticks the box for both comfort and fashion.

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@juliestevanja

Obsessed! I’m obsessed with how we can do things better, get a better result, find a more innovative way, and do things differently. They’d say that I’m driven to push the envelope.

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@juliestevanja

When I’m feeling uninspired, I go through my emails and do more task-driven work, whereas when I’m feeling inspired, that’s when I like to work on creative projects.

If I’m looking to get a burst of motivation, I call my husband! He always knows just what to say.

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@juliestevanja

The best way to quit a job is to be upfront, and if possible provide plenty of notice and do the right thing by the business and your team—don’t leave your team in the lurch. Give plenty of notice, be part of a well-planned handover period. Do everything you can to make it easy for your replacement and set them up for success.

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Gluten free toast with avocado, feta and chilli.

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@juliestevanja

The most common mistake would be playing it too safe. I encourage failing—it’s how you learn, and mistakes can often be turned into stepping stones to innovation and achievement. Don’t be afraid to fail!

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@juliestevanja

Stylerunner!

I follow people who inspire me; women in business like Mira Duma, Lisa Messenger and Samantha Wills, women in the health and fitness industry like Bianca Cheah and Kate Kendall, and women with killer style like Pip Edwards.

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@stylerunner

In the morning I like to get active—depending on how I’m feeling, this will either be gentle yoga stretches and meditation, going to an F45 session with my squad, or on the weekends, I’m really into heated reformer Pilates! After that, it’s off to work.

For me, evenings are for winding down and spending time with my husband—I’ve been trying to hone my cooking skills, so you could find me in the kitchen. To relax in the evening, I might roll out my mat and do a few yoga stretches to calm my mind for a restful sleep.

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@juliestevanja

Work on things that are the most important, not the most urgent.

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@juliestevanja

The launch of Triple White and Radar—they’re projects that we’ve been working really hard on for a while now, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see it all come to fruition.

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@stylerunner

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