Sali and Julie Stevanja on ‘Killing It’ in eCommerce in Fashion
Prefer to just listen? Catch our audio below!
Hello everybody! Welcome to Episode #9 of Feminine Wealth TV! In this episode I am thrilled to be interviewing Sali and Julie Stevanja, co-founders of eCommerce in Fashion Stylerunner. They have experienced a meteoric rise in just 12 months of business, being named #17 and #18 on Australia’s list of Top Women Entrepreneurs Under 40 and being named among the top Ecommerce Entrepreneurs ‘killing it’ in Australia.
We talk about their story, how they went about setting up their business, starting a fashion business with your sister and lessons they have learned about running an online business along the way. Already their products have been distributed in over 40 countries! Stylerunner is definitely a company to keep an eye on in the future…
Prefer to read? See full transcription below!
Barbara Turley: Hi, I’m Barbara Turley, and you’re watching another episode of Feminine Wealth TV. The show that uncovers the diamond tips on creating truly conscious wealth from change makers, world shakers, and wealth creators.
I am super excited to be joined on the show today by these two amazing, amazing women. We’ve got twins, Sally and Julie here, who are the co-founders of a supersonic successful eCommerce in fashion business called Stylerunner.com.
Girls, welcome to the show.
Julie Stevanja: Thank you.
Sali Stevanja: Thank you.
Barbara Turley: I was really excited to have you both on the show, not just because your business has literally exploded in twelve short months, but also because I love your mission of empowering women to reach their highest potential, and feel great about themselves, which is just an awesome mission to have and starting a business with your sister which is eCommerce in fashion.
To get things started, and for the people who maybe haven’t heard of Stylerunner yet, although I don’t know who they are, tell us a bit about, what is Stylerunner?
Julie Stevanja: Stylerunner is a global destination for the most beautiful, stylish, active wear. It’s a multi-label retailer, which means we have over thirty brand, brands from Nike, Adidas, through to emerging labels like Jodhi Meares’ new label The Upside, which is the label that everyone should be wearing right now.
Barbara Turley: I need to get on to that one. Stylerunner is the place to be for that obviously. Tell me about the mission behind this whole business, eCommerce in fashion and your wish to empower women globally around the world. Where did the passion for that come from and how do you come up with eCommerce in fashion?
Sali Stevanja: I think probably growing up in a family of four girls. We have two incredible parents who always inspired us to be the best version of ourselves. It helped install those values at a very young age, so we were always very ambitious, always very driven from day dot, and growing up in society at times you can often feel that tall poppy syndrome. I think for us it’s amazing to be able to inspire people to be fit and healthy and happy, but it’s another thing to also have people also feel pride for the lives that they live, and whether that is being the fastest runner on the track, or whether it is being a super successful inspirational business woman, it’s us wanting to really let people know that that’s something you should be incredibly proud of, and embrace, and not actually feel like you have to shy away from it, because there’re certain people uncomfortable about it.
Barbara Turley: People shy away from their own greatness I suppose.
Also, I know you had a very hard blow early in life with breast cancer diagnosis at the early age of 27.
Sali Stevanja: Yes.
Barbara Turley: Do you think how you’re coming through that, and how you’re five years through that now, so that’s an amazing milestone. Do you think that gave you a bit of drive for this passion as well? This eCommerce in fashion?
Sali Stevanja: Absolutely. There was a period of time where I was just like any other young female, thinking that I was invincible, taking life we might hold for granted. My breast cancer journey has absolutely been a hidden blessing to me. I do think that it’s definitely brought Julie and I closer together. I’ve gone on this incredible journey of health and fitness, but through that also wanted to, it really I suppose we wanted to make our mark in life, and we wanted to live life with purpose now, not when it’s too late.
Barbara Turley: Starting with your idea? Where did that come, did it just pop up one day for both of you when you were talking about life, and what we’re going to do, and where did (it)the idea of ecommerce in fashion come from?
Julie Stevanja: Kind of, once we had the idea, it was like, why didn’t we think of this earlier this eCommerce in fashion? We know the principles in starting business. It was so obvious, but I was living in London at the time and eCommerce in fashion was popular, Sally was living in Melbourne, and we were on Skype to each other every week, missing each other and all that sort of thing. We were both keeping active at that stage, so I was going to hot yoga every week, I was going five days a week. Sally was-
Barbara Turley: So you’re active girls?
Julie Stevanja: Yeah, Sally was going to the gym every day, and we just couldn’t find things that we loved to wear, so we were kind of complaining about it to each other. Going to the gym and everyone’s wearing the same thing.
Barbara Turley: Actually you’re right, I like to do yoga as well, but it’s only in the last few years that really stylish, feminine, active wear has come to the market. Before that it was you always looked like a man.
Sali Stevanja: Yes, that’s right.
Barbara Turley: Very uncool, very un-sexy.
Julie Stevanja: It was always a slightly smaller version of the man’s in a pink or a [worse 00:04:28], and that was the offering. We thought it was a really neglected area and it was really hard to find brands and designs that were really made for women to feel great in. Once that started to catch on we thought, this is clearly going to get bigger and bigger. It’s a growing market. It’s been adopted so rapidly, and we saw that, and it made complete sense.
Barbara Turley: Absolutely. What I’m interested in that is that I think the retail space is a tough market. That’s quite crowded, but I can see where you had the vision for this idea, there was a gap, but I feel like a lot of people would have said to you, “Are you totally mad? You’ve got no background in retail. Not really, Especially, eCommerce in fashion.
Sali Stevanja: Apart from online shopping ourselves.
Barbara Turley: Yeah, exactly. How did you get through? Did you tell anyone about your idea? How did you get through that negativity? A lot of people when they want to start the business, they have this great idea, and then everybody shoots them down.
Sali Stevanja: Yep.
Barbara Turley: So how did you get through this eCommerce in fashion?
Julie Stevanja: At the beginning we didn’t really tell too many people, because we want to have the product speak for itself, or have the website design, which we had so much belief in, show people the way we were positioning it. We really can’t describe that until you see it, and say, “Wow that was done really beautifully.” To begin with we just hung together, and had our own little conference calls, and got as much of the ground work done as possible. Apart from our family and a few close friends, it was also going to be a big surprise to our wider set of girlfriends.
Sali Stevanja: We really got excited about the whole idea and vision by ourselves, so from the very early idea of wanting to start Stylerunner we really didn’t allow other people’s opinions to influence what our big dream was. We were sure that we had this idea in our head, we had the vision planned out, and we knew that we were backing each other up within ourselves 100% before we went out and said, “Hey, this is what we’re doing,” because you’re going to get that criticism. We already had built our rock-solid foundation around us to know that it doesn’t matter what anybody says, whether they’re someone who we really value the opinion of-
Barbara Turley: Sometimes family can, meaning really well, can discourage you, and I think that happens a lot, particularly women because they always ask, “What do you think of my idea? What do you think of this?” We can get shot down and that can be a challenges in starting a business with family.
At the time when you started, so you had this vision, were you still working for other people, were you still in the employee roles at that stage?
Julie Stevanja: I was consulting in recruitment.
Sali Stevanja: Whilst I was, I would choose all my own hours, I still had full-time clients that I was servicing at the time.
Julie Stevanja: I was working for a tech start-up in London, so I had a big project which we launched at the Cannes Film Festival, and I thought I’d see that out, and have one last glamorous project before and it is somewhat related to eCommerce in fashion.
Barbara Turley: Stuck in starving, rolling your sleeves up, and sweating every minute.
Julie Stevanja: Finished up there, did the red carpets, enjoyed that, and then exactly that, rolled up my sleeves and decided it was going to be maybe a couple of years of very hard work.
Barbara Turley: In those early days, you’re still working, and your doing this business on the side. So many people have tried that, how hard is it to do that when you only have-
Sali Stevanja: It’s really hard, and we didn’t do that for long, to be honest. Once we believed in our idea of we really convinced each other that if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it the right way.
Barbara Turley: You have to commit at some point with this eCommerce in fashion.
Sali Stevanja: You have to commit, and you have to be willing to take that risk. If you believe wholeheartedly in your dream and vision you have to be willing to take the risk. Julie and I always thought, “Well, what’s the worst that can happen?” It doesn’t work and we’ve still got great skills to be able to get into another job.
Julie Stevanja: It was really just a matter of finishing up our obligations, giving our notice, making sure that we left that with a respectful attitude, and then just diving straight into it.
Barbara Turley: You girls did, you have literally dived straight into it. For those of you out there who don’t know Stylerunner yet, these girls have been named No.17 and No.18 in the top fifty Australian women entrepreneurs under forty. They’re in the top eCommerce entrepreneurs killing it in Australia, which I love that.
Sali Stevanja: A really good response too and this eCommerce in fashion was really working well.
Barbara Turley: I was going to say that. I love the fact that you did it in less than 12 months. So talk to me, I’m dying to know. What? Where? What? Who? How did the pivotal moment happen in this business for you? Where did you first see that take off?
Julie Stevanja: Gosh, we got lucky a lot of times along the way, and I think it was because we created a product which was really beautiful, really premium with absolute conviction. We invested a lot into it. When people saw that, they saw we were really serious about it, and so we really had fantastic brands come on from the beginning. We were lucky enough to have brands like Adidas, Stella McCartney, which was our ultimate brand we were aiming for, come on after just a few months of being up and running.
Barbara Turley: How did you get her? I mean it sort of feels like, we got lucky and she just came to us going, “We love you.” How did that happen?
Sali Stevanja: To be honest it kind of is a bit like that. So we had Which Magazine write an article shortly after our launch, where they compared David Jones, nearly 175 years old, and the twins. 175 years old and yet we’re competitors. At that time David Jones had the-
Barbara Turley: All these brands, you put it in eCommerce.
Sali Stevanja: Yeah, Adidas and Stella McCartney. I remember Julie and I going, “That is the label that we want. If we get that we know we’re on to something really good.” They contacted us to meet?
Julie Stevanja: I think we got in touch about Adidas at that stage, and it was really hard just getting through to anyone, but once they heard it was Stella or, they called us straight back or tweeted us, and we thought, oh we’ve got to pitch for this, or we’ve got to have our story down straight. We’ve got to impress them.
Sali Stevanja: We worked around the clock, ensuring that we were really going to pitch well, and we wanted to walk away knowing that. We’re in with a really good shot of getting this account on board.
Julie Stevanja: We ended up there at lunch, and they were pretty much almost pitching us. They were like, “This is the brand that we need, the women’s market is growing, this is going to be fan…”, and we were like, “Yes, you must really be a good fit.”
Barbara Turley: You must have really realized at that moment, we knew we were on to something now with this eCommerce in fashion.
Julie Stevanja: Absolutely. Yeah.
Barbara Turley: I’m interested to know as well, the business model you girls have chosen is to, you have stock, you’re obviously selling brands, other people’s brands. Why did you decide to go that route, and not develop your own stuff, like the Lorna Jane type idea.
Julie Stevanja: I think it’s really hard to find distribution with your own brand. There’s a lot of competition. Everyone has their own offerings, and to get in on that is a really hard sell, but once you create your own distribution platform, if you can create that, you can later bring on your own brands. You can position amongst established brands, and more than anything, this was where the gap was.
Barbara Turley: That’s what I loved about what you’re doing, because you said there that you were establishing a distribution platform, because I’m a firm believer. I’ve worked in funds management, and the financial industry, and it doesn’t matter how amazing the product or service you have, if you’ve got no distribution, and it’s like sales, it doesn’t matter how amazing you are. With no distribution or some sort of leverage networks, you’ve absolutely got nothing, so you girls got that really right.
Sali Stevanja: Yeah, and I think for us at the very beginning, it was more so about wanting to provide a beautiful service for women buying gym gear, because at that time we were shopping in the likes of Rebel Sports and a couple of other stores, that are very masculine.
Julie Stevanja: Similar in the UK.
Sali Stevanja: We didn’t feel comfortable going into those shops. We would often go in there and you would feel uninspired to actually buy gym clothes, yet we were shopping online at Net-a-Porter and we were. We had ideas of eCommerce in fashion.
Julie Stevanja: It’s almost like an experience.
Barbara Turley: That was obviously where, this is where you got the genesis of the idea.
Sali Stevanja: Absolutely, because we knew what that experience felt like. We knew what it was like to shop, and you would end up with more items in your cart than you had anticipated.
Barbara Turley: Yeah, I’ve done that. What are we going to put back?
Sali Stevanja: But you end up with this beautiful box on your doorstep, and opening that up and feeling that eCommerce in fashion is –
Barbara Turley: It’s like with Apple. Apple with Steve Jobs did this really well. It was the whole customer experience. It was when the Apple product arrives in the beautiful white box, and everything’s perfect.
Julie Stevanja: I think the gap was actually two-fold. It was the product was lacking, there wasn’t enough stylish beautiful product, that was easy to find; and the experience of shopping for sports wear in a beautiful way was lacking too, so it’s something to do with both.
Barbara Turley: You obviously had a very clear vision from the beginning, and you knew exactly the business model that you wanted to build from day one. Did you know your strategic actual plan then to make it work? A lot of people have a big vision and a great idea, but a lot of people lack the skills to make it happen.
Julie Stevanja: We didn’t know it all at once. We knew that when we got to each stage we would find out the best way to do it, and we did all the research we needed to, eCommerce in fashion and etc, or we’d find the right people that would give us the direction to do that. We started before we knew the whole strategic plan.
Barbara Turley: Just start. That’s perfect.
Sali Stevanja: I think we also knew our vision, so for us we want to be the Net-a-Porter of active wear in eCommerce in fashion, so every time it came to a point where we needed to make a decision we would always refer back to our vision, and our end goal. Often you look at that, and that gives you an indication as to whether you should go left or right.
Barbara Turley: What decision to make.
Sali Stevanja: Exactly, so we have. I think the good thing is we don’t tie ourselves down to a strategic plan. For us, we started this off with heart, and we run business which is eCommerce in fashion.
Barbara Turley: With regard to the ability to pivot and stuff like that, and start-ups as well, being able to move and fluidly move around. Everyone says you need a business plan. I’m a believer that you do need one, but you need a sort of fluidity to sustain flow, so that when opportunities come you can capitalize on them, and not get stuck in your plan to-
Sali Stevanja: As a warning, use your intuition. So many times Julie and I would say, let’s take this road, and people would question us and say, “Really? Why?”, and we go, because it feels like.
Barbara Turley: It just feels like the right thing to do this eCommerce in fashion.
Sali Stevanja: Absolutely.
Barbara Turley: Because you know your vision and this is how eCommerce in fashion works.
Sali Stevanja: Exactly, and back yourself up, if you’re using institution you have to back yourself up, and have the confidence to see it through.
Barbara Turley: I can imagine there will be women out there who know starting, and they’ll be thinking to themselves, “You know what? They must have had, clearly they had loads of money, and clearly they’ve had mentors or whatever”.
Sali Stevanja: Or investors.
Barbara Turley: Or investors, or whatever, to get this business in twelve months to where it is, so I want to talk about the money bit first, because the money bit, this is the bit that, it really drips people off. What are your views on how much money you need to start something like this? Realistically.
Julie Stevanja: Yes, we did have some capital. We were lucky that we were in the position to be able to invest in it ourselves.
Barbara Turley: This was your own savings though?
Julie Stevanja: Yes, but I truly believe that had I had this idea, with this much conviction, or had we had this idea with as much conviction as we did, I would go and pitch it to somebody if I didn’t have the capital. There are people out there with money to invest, and money needs an idea to work. People out there with money, they’re looking for a great idea, and with as much conviction as we had, I could prove to someone out there with evidence in the market to show where this is going.
If you have an idea, and you don’t have the capital there is a way to make that happen. There are so many great networks out there right now for, like Seed Capital, Angels, Incubators, where you can, if you back up an idea, get mentors, get capital. We were fortunate capital-wise that we could do this ourselves, but had that not been the case it wouldn’t have stopped us. We would have found a way.
Barbara Turley: I love that, because one of my mentors, and my philosophy is that money is the fuel. Money is the fuel, and yes you need the fuel, but the idea is something that nobody can really buy.
Julie Stevanja: Yep.
Sali Stevanja: Absolutely.
Barbara Turley: Money, is, you need the idea, and money is fuel. You can go out and find the money, because there’s money everywhere hunting for ideas. There’s actually no shortage of money out there, people think that there is.
Julie Stevanja: Really have to change your perspective specially with eCommerce in fashion business.
Barbara Turley: In terms of managing the cash-flow, obviously you had some savings, you got the business up and running. Then the business has cash-flow needs, and you have personal, obviously cash-flow needs as well for both of you. How did you manage that alone? Was it just, was there any scary moments where it all got a bit close to the edge?
Julie Stevanja: It definitely-
Barbara Turley: No dinners out.
Julie Stevanja: No time for dinner’s out, but it definitely became, let’s not do anything huge, like buy a house, because you never know where it’s going to need more investing in. All that took a back seat really. The business got bigger and bigger. It got bigger than we anticipated, so yes, that required more cash-flow than we had anticipated. Again, we were lucky that we had budgeted conservatively, and we were able to continue to balance that. But at the same time we assessed it, and knew that the end result was going to be good, so we were happy to continue to invest in that, and grow at the same pace, because the feedback was telling us that the business was growing.
It can be a scary-
Barbara Turley: As you were saying, you have to take a risk and back yourself at some point.
Sali Stevanja: I think you also have to be realistic as to what a start-up is. For us it wasn’t about starting eCommerce in fashion business to quickly make some cash so that we could live this luxurious lifestyle. We were incredibly aware of the fact that for every dollar we make we would reinvest back into the business. It wasn’t for us, even to this day, it’s not so much about how much we’re selling, it’s about the entire brand that we’re building.
Barbara Turley: You’re building an atmospheric asset, that’s what I would say. My whole background is in investment piece, and I really firmly believe that you invest in your cash-cow first.
Sali Stevanja: Absolutely.
Barbara Turley: Get that pumping, and then later you can come to do, you can diversify into other things, other businesses, or houses, or whatever that you want.
I’m interested to know as well, PR. Did you go into any, did you buy PR? What are your views on PR? How did you drive traffic to your site, get your brand and concept out there?
Julie Stevanja: We hired a publicist from the beginning. I was very lucky to bump into one, so we were not 100% sure we were going to use one, but I bumped into someone, it was one of those acts of fate, where I stopped someone in the street wearing Active Wear, wanting to shoot for our blog, and she was an incredible publicist who had just left-
Barbara Turley: That’s serendipity.
Sali Stevanja: It really was.
Julie Stevanja: She was just about to start her own PR firm, and there’s never anyone with their incentive than someone that’s got something to prove. It was fantastic. She started working for us, and really introduced us to all the magazines, and all of that sort of thing.
One of the other areas we were very lucky to start growing our awareness was Facebook. At that time that was a social media channel which was doing a lot for us. In terms of other start-ups who are thinking of starting something, you don’t have necessarily have to get PR. In our case, yes, it was really helpful, and I think it was the best thing that we did at that stage.
There’s some great free social networks which we really launched our eCommerce in fashion business on.
Barbara Turley: What about mentors? It looks to me, from the outset you’ve done so well in twelve months. Were there mentors involved? Did you hire anyone, or get coached, or was there anyone guiding you along the way?
Julie Stevanja: To begin with, not really. We just thought, let’s see what we come against, and learn what we need to do then, and find the person that we need to learn as much as required about that. Whenever we came up against something, we’d find things on the net, we’d read about it, we’d find resources. We worked out most things really between ourselves and perhaps my husband, who’s in finance, bounced around a few close friends.
Along the way we joined-
Barbara Turley: You just sort of learned as you went really did you?
Julie Stevanja: Absolutely.
Barbara Turley: I love the fact that you girls have been so punctual. I think what happens when you start a business, is I think we all procrastinate and all these things, but you went fast, you went fast at it. Was that part of the strategy as well?
Sali Stevanja: I laugh and think sometimes, I think Julie’s husband wishes sometimes we would procrastinate a little bit. Slow down. When you’re so passionate and you’re so in-tune with what your vision is, why? You just get out there and grab it by the balls. You do, you really just grab it and you run. For us it’s, if we’re doubting or we’re second guessing or questioning, that’s an alarm bell. I always have to look at that and go, well then that’s obviously not what we should be doing. We should be going down this path because we know we’re not second guessing. We’re almost trying to catch up with ourselves, sprint down that track.
Barbara Turley: That’s how you know you’re on the right track. As you said, and what totally resonated with me, because you know when you’ve got a job to do, you’re just like, do it tomorrow, do it tomorrow, and there’s other things that you do in the eCommerce in fashion business that you’re just on fire with. That’s when you’re in your genious zone, when you’re doing that.
Sali Stevanja: I think also there are times in eCommerce in fashion business where we grew incredibly quickly, and there were times when we thought, oh God, what are we doing, we don’t know everything. Maybe we need to have a look at some additional resources when it comes to mentors and guidance. I happened to go along to the Unconvention Center, it’s for entrepreneurs under the age of 40, and I went along and I was left incredibly inspired.
Barbara Turley: I’ve been to that as well. Those guys are great.
Sali Stevanja: I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Julie and I did originally sign up for a program, and we were lucky enough to meet one of the, for me, he’s been an absolutely stand out, Peter Lacovich.
Barbara Turley: I know Peter’s wife really well.
Sali Stevanja: She’s incredible as well.
Barbara Turley: Trying to get her on the show. Millie D?
Sali Stevanja: They are incredible, but they for me had a really great impact.
Julie Stevanja: A lot of great advice you don’t hear often also. All of the things you hear over and over again, but Peter has the knowledge to the next level which is great.
Barbara Turley: Give us one or two. Like what is the key? What’s the standard in your head that you remember him saying?
Sali Stevanja: Oh, I can tell you that straight out, “Green Brain Aside”. This for me is one of the things in Stylerunner history so far where I’ve really gone, I can reflect back and know that you’ve really made a difference. We were doing things great, but he just allowed us to learn this method of Green Brain Aside which is the way you market your pictures on your website for instance, are emotionally connected. It actually allows the consumer to have more of a connection to what it is you’re selling or promoting on your site.
Barbara Turley: I’ve heard people talk about this before, this Green Brain. Is this the right brain, the emotional side of the brain, what he’s saying?
Julie Stevanja: I can’t remember which side of the brain it is.
Barbara Turley: I know it’s, I think it’s the right because I always remember left is logical. Left logical, so right is the emotional side, so it’s the green side of the brain, so you want to appeal to that emotional.
Julie Stevanja: And also logical.
Sali Stevanja: It’s almost that it teaches you how to bring your marketing to life. That’s the best way that I can describe it, and we implemented his teachings instantly. We would go there sometimes, and we would sit there and scribble our ideas. People would often do networking after, but we’d go straight to the office or home, and we would implement every single thing we had learned. I think being part of that Unconvention for the period of time that we were, one of the other stand outs for me which separates the real dream chasers are the ones who act. That was another lesson that Peter would always teach, you’ve got to act. It’s all well and good to learn, raise your hand and get all these learned tips, but if you don’t go home and you don’t implement this you don’t move forward.
Julie Stevanja: Most people don’t. You have to act. This is where people complain and say, “I got nothing out of this training”, or “I didn’t learn anything.” It’s because you didn’t go home and do anything, and that’s the key.
I’m interested to know, you’re partnership, you’re twins right, you’re working together 24/7. How do you maintain, because partnerships can make or break you? I’ve had people on the show who’ve talked about partnerships with friends where they’ve never spoken to that person again. How do you maintain your friendship together, or sorry your sisterhood?
Julie Stevanja: As we were saying, we’ve been really lucky, things have really worked so well together, we really gelled. We look after totally different parts of the eCommerce in fashion business so we-
Barbara Turley: I think that might be key though.
Sali Stevanja: We are Yin and Yang. Being sisters, and the way Julie is, she’s poised and she’s highly intellectual, and she loves everything to do with logic.
Barbara Turley: That’s the left brain. Is that why you wanted to sit on the left?
Sali Stevanja: Whereas I’m street-smart, and I like to be a little bit more on the ground, going, okay let’s do this, be the driver. Everything Julie does in eCommerce in fashion business, I love that she does that, and vice versa
Barbara Turley: Because you don’t want to do that.
Sali Stevanja: No, exactly.
Julie Stevanja: I definitely think though for those out there, if you are going to go into partnership with someone, speak to a lawyer. Like I said, we’re sisters, we’ve been completely fantastic, we are aligned and we haven’t had any problems to do with this, but I have seen that happen as well. There’s something you can get called a Partnership Agreement where you answer a whole tonne of questions before you start. What happens if I decide to quit early? What happens if?
Barbara Turley: One person might just lose, one person might get sick. Family might move away. I had two ladies on the show a few weeks ago from a place called The Clinic in Sydney which is a skin rejuvenation clinic, and they’ve been in eCommerce in fashion business for fifteen years, friends together. I asked them the same question and they said exactly the same thing. You need proper lawyers, you need to pay for it, and even things like, how do you deal with family and friends on discounts? Little things that can break down. So that’s good.
Sali Stevanja: We’re lucky, we have the same family.
Barbara Turley: It’s good that it’s all right, mind you it’s only eighteen months in, so you have-
Julie Stevanja: So far we haven’t had too many disagreements. If we do, we consider those as another challenges in starting a eCommerce in fashion business with family.
Sali Stevanja: We actually moved in together during the start-up. We would often, I would go home at say twelve in the morning, or two in the morning, and I would find I still want to talk about eCommerce in fashion business, and Julie and I would be on the phone, so I moved in. We now live together, and it’s great because we’re out of the office but when we go home, we have a workshop, our house is covered, literally covered.
Julie Stevanja: Posters on the walls.
Barbara Turley: It’s a good method to have though because some entrepreneurs working on their own, they don’t have that sense of bouncing ideas off somebody. Its actually quite cool to have somebody else that you feel that connected.
Julie Stevanja: I don’t know how I would have done it without.
Barbara Turley: You wouldn’t have don’t it.
Julie Stevanja: No.
Sali Stevanja: I think one of the great things for those entrepreneurs who are doing a solo journey, the great thing about organisations, we have other entrepreneurs part of those groups is that you do bounce those ideas off. You can tell them your idea, and you have say twenty, thirty, forty, if not hundreds of entrepreneurs giving you their feedback based on their journey. Then at least you’ve got something to work with as opposed to really being stuck in the dark.
Barbara Turley: Let’s look at the future for a second. Stylerunner Man has just launched. Was that always part of the original plan, or did that just come out of nowhere?
Julie Stevanja: It wasn’t originally, but we did have a lot of feedback, and men wanting to know what was coming out for them because we were uncovering a lot of cool new brands. Women also wanted to shop for their men also, which is fantastic because they already shop with us, and so if they can add something to their cart that’s great.
I also think that women are ahead of the curve. We do adopt online shopping earlier, we are-
Barbara Turley: Men are just a bit slower at this sort of thing.
Julie Stevanja: It is a huge market. Men’s sports wear is an enormous market, and eventually it will get to a stage where they’re online shopping as much as women, and where they do have more choice. It’s only a matter of time before people want more than your top five or six big brands, they need variety and only starting to realize.
Barbara Turley: Men like to shop online I guess. It’s just sit at home and do it.
What about Stylerunner.com? Is Stylerunner Man just a sub-brand of Stylerunner or how does that work?
Julie Stevanja: No, so we have Stylerunnerman.com, and they have a shared cart, a linked cart, so you can shop on one URL. There’s a link tab you can go from one to the other, and you can add menswear into your cart there-
Barbara Turley: And pay all at the same time.
Julie Stevanja: It’s all in one cart. The reason we started them separately is we wanted to continue to market to them individually. I think there’s nothing worse than being a man and seeing nothing but women’s shoes being advertised at you.
Barbara Turley: Of course, and for women as well, you go, oh I don’t want that, it doesn’t work then.
Julie Stevanja: Yes that’s right, so it’s about when women land on our site everything is tailored to them right down to the level of the [pipe 00:29:45] pages. How big are the photos? How are they shot? How much detail is there in the descriptions? What color is the call-to-action? All of that can be tailored along the way to men’s psychology when it comes to buying. The feeling that we want to create for the brand, around the brand pages, and so that was a strategic decision from the beginning, and we wanted to tailor those separately.
Barbara Turley: That’s really interesting in terms of building out the whole branding of your eCommerce in fashion business as well.
For female, or all entrepreneurs I guess out there, what do you think has been the secret of your success, really? What are the ways to get effective results in doing eCommerce in fashion business?
Julie Stevanja: A lot of hard work. There is absolutely no getting around it, there are days when you’ll need to work ’til two in the morning, or four in the morning. I guess you don’t have to if you want to don’t want to grow at that speed. You’re responsible if you don’t, and they have to be optimistic.
Barbara Turley: I think the husband is a big one, where you have to hunt out the diamonds that are out there.
Sali Stevanja: I think even just being aware that your personal life does go on hold for a period of time, so it is literally work. You’ve got to live it. You have to breathe that, and if you’re not putting in that time, and we do, we work around the clock, but if you’re not putting in that time, I can guarantee someone else in your industry or your market share, will.
Barbara Turley: Which means that you have to love it, have to love what you’re doing.
What would you say, somebody out there who’s sitting in a corporate job, has a big idea, and just isn’t that, you know that it’s like, you spend a long time before you take the jump. What would you say to those people?
Sali Stevanja: Jump.
Barbara Turley: Just take the jump. Would you say to them, jump and be realistic, jump and try to do some of the numbers before, because people do get caught out financially I think with these things.
Julie Stevanja: Do a little bit of planning. Definitely know your numbers. Budget very conservatively. Have a big reserve because so many things you come across along the way. That’s just a given, but just start.
Barbara Turley: As savvy fem-trepreneurs of the future, what does the future hold for both of you individually and then together?
Sali Stevanja: What doesn’t it hold? That’s the question. For us, we to date have shipped to over forty countries around the world without doing any marketing internationally at all, and so for Julie and I, we would love to see an LA distribution center at the end of this year, or early next year definitely. It’s definitely going to continue in building this incredible brand globally.
The key thing for us is regardless of how big we’re building it, the service level, which is something that we pride ourselves on with our customers, will never drop.
Barbara Turley: That’s part of your vision.
Sali Stevanja: Absolutely. We want to be known as not just the go-to destination for active wear, not just the Net-Porter of active wear, but we want to be known as being the ultimate customer service delivery when it comes to buying-
Barbara Turley: Customer experience.
Sali Stevanja: Absolutely.
Barbara Turley: How about Stylerunner Kids?
Sali Stevanja: A few ideas.
Barbara Turley: When you girls are globally, internationally famous, and just killing it all over the world, just remember to come back to the Feminine Wealth TV Show and have another chat about it.
Julie Stevanja: Absolutely.
Barbara Turley: Girls, it’s been a real pleasure having you both on the show, and I know you’re going to be such an inspiration to so many people out there who are looking at starting up eCommerce in fashion businesses, so thank you very much.
Sali Stevanja: Thank you.
Barbara Turley: And thank you again for watching for another week of Feminine Wealth TV. Remember you can catch me this week on iTunes on my Podcast where I’m going to be talking about my key take outs from my chat with Sally and Julie today. Also remember come back next week when I’m going to have Jane Copeland on the show. She’s been dubbed the Fairy Bog Mother, and she’s going to tell us, how do you go from boardroom to baby to business.
See you then.