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Founder of Stylerunner activewear conquered fitness world

As lightbulb moments go, Julie Stevanja’s is different to most.

The 36-year-old founder of online fitness store, Stylerunner, came up with the idea for her athleisure empire while on the mat at a Bikram yoga class.

Five years later, Stylerunner is a global name in the fitness fashion world, and the Sydney-based brains behind the business is at the helm of a company estimated to be worth AUD $50 million.

Ms Stevanja spoke to FEMAIL about how she grew Stylerunner into what it is today, why she still doesn’t feel ‘worthy’ of all the accolades that are heaped on her, and her new line, New Guard – which launches online exclusively today (Thursday).

It is now estimated to be worth AUD $50 millon

Julie Stevanja (pictured), 36, came up with the idea for activewear shop, Stylerunner, while she was at a Bikram yoga class in 2012 – it is now estimated to be worth AUD $50 million

Ms Stevanja (pictured) spoke to FEMAIL about how she grew Stylerunner into what it is today and why she still doesn't feel 'worthy' of all the accolades that are heaped on her

Ms Stevanja (pictured) spoke to FEMAIL about how she grew Stylerunner into what it is today and why she still doesn’t feel ‘worthy’ of all the accolades that are heaped on her

She also discussed her latest activewear range - New Guard - which launches today (Thursday) - the range centres around elevated activewear pieces

She also discussed her latest activewear range – New Guard – which launches today (Thursday) – the range centres around elevated activewear pieces

For Ms Stevanja, the idea for Stylerunner came about while she was living and working in London, ‘hooked’ on Bikram yoga:

‘I was going all the time and struggling to find clothes I wanted to wear,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

Ms Stevanja's original idea came about when she was looking for glamorous activewear and couldn't find any (pictured: New Guard's latest range)

Ms Stevanja’s original idea came about when she was looking for glamorous activewear and couldn’t find any (pictured: New Guard’s latest range)

‘The athleisure market hadn’t really taken off yet, and everything I saw by traditional sports brands failed to inspire me.’

And so, the 36-year-old – who was working at a start-up at the time – decided to do it herself. 

Setting out the objectives to launch a ‘Net-a-Porter for activewear’, she started work with her sister over the summer of 2012 with the intention of launching a one-stop shop for fitness clothes by the end of the year.

‘It was exhausting – we would work till midnight and be back at it by 6am,’ she said.

‘We were running off adrenaline, I’m not sure I could do it now. There were also only three of us on board – myself, my sister and one employee, who joined later on. 

‘We did it all – the marketing, the pitching, the meetings… It was busy!’.

Setting out the objectives to launch a 'Net-a-Porter for activewear', she started work over the summer of 2012 with the intention of launching Stylerunner by the end of the year (pictured with Kayla Itsines)

Setting out the objectives to launch a ‘Net-a-Porter for activewear’, she started work over the summer of 2012 with the intention of launching Stylerunner by the end of the year (pictured with Kayla Itsines)

'It was exhausting - we'd work till midnight and be back at it by 6am,' Ms Stevanja (pictured) said of the early days - 'We were running off adrenaline, I'm not sure I could do it now'

‘It was exhausting – we’d work till midnight and be back at it by 6am,’ Ms Stevanja (pictured) said of the early days – ‘We were running off adrenaline, I’m not sure I could do it now’

Today, Stylerunner ships to 100 countries worldwide and stocks some 50 brands, including Beyoncé's Ivy Park and Lorna Jane, as well as New Guard (pictured) from now

Today, Stylerunner ships to 100 countries worldwide and stocks some 50 brands, including Beyoncé’s Ivy Park and Lorna Jane, as well as New Guard (pictured) from now

STYLERUNNER SECRETS TO SUCCESS 

* Be scrappy in business as well as professional, you have to be prepared to pivot in business based on what will work best.

* Find and nurture a good team of people around you.

* Always put the customer first – think about what he or she wants and what is important to them.

* Take advantages of opportunities when they present themselves to you.

* Be prepared to work hard – at the beginning, Ms Stevanja was doing 18 hour days. 

By the end of 2012, Stylerunner was ready to go. Having secured countless big-name brands to be stocked online, the first few months were a success – which would only lead to bigger things:

‘I hoped it would work, because sportswear is such a big part of the fashion industry – it occupies approximately a quarter of it right now,’ she explained.

‘And the shopping experience is much more enjoyable when everything you see, you love. Curation is such a part of the busy woman’s life.’

At the end of the first year, Stylerunner was already a success. 

Ms Stevanja’s team slowly and steadily grew to around 30 people, they moved to a bigger warehouse office space – and by the time three years were up, Stylerunner had an estimated company value of $50 million.

These days, it ships to 100 countries worldwide and stocks some 50 brands, including Beyoncé’s Ivy Park, Lorna Jane, Nimble Activewear and Pip Nation’s P.E. Nation.

In spite of her huge objective success, Ms Stevanja (pictured) said she still doesn't feel as though she's made it - she said she hopes to feel successful in 'five years time' perhaps

In spite of her huge objective success, Ms Stevanja (pictured) said she still doesn’t feel as though she’s made it – she said she hopes to feel successful in ‘five years time’ perhaps

'It's very flattering that people continue to shower praise on me and Stylerunner, but there's always more going on on the inside than the outside. Maybe in three to five years I'll feel worthy of it,' she said (pictured: New Guard activewear)

'It's very flattering that people continue to shower praise on me and Stylerunner, but there's always more going on on the inside than the outside. Maybe in three to five years I'll feel worthy of it,' she said (pictured: New Guard activewear)

‘It’s very flattering that people continue to shower praise on me and Stylerunner, but there’s always more going on on the inside than the outside. Maybe in three to five years I’ll feel worthy of it,’ she said (pictured: New Guard activewear)

In spite of her huge objective success, Ms Stevanja said she still doesn’t feel as though she’s made it.

‘I don’t feel successful yet. Maybe in five years I’ll feel successful, but there’s still so much I want to do. 

‘It’s very flattering that people continue to shower praise on me and Stylerunner, but there’s always more going on on the inside than the outside. Maybe in three to five years I’ll feel worthy of it.’

Speaking about her tips for other start-ups, she said: ‘You need to be scrappy in business, as well as professional. 

‘You also need to learn to pivot and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Yes, this is stressful running things this way, but it’s also how you become successful.

‘You need to be open to opportunities, find and nurture a talented team – and think about the customer first – that is the absolute key.’

Speaking about her tips for other start-ups, she said: 'You need to be scrappy in business, as well as professional' - she also said you need to 'pivot' when it's required

Speaking about her tips for other start-ups, she said: ‘You need to be scrappy in business, as well as professional’ – she also said you need to ‘pivot’ when it’s required

Ms Stevanja's latest line - New Guard - which will be available both on the New Guard website and Stylerunner - is streetwear inspired by a global attitude (pictured)

Ms Stevanja’s latest line – New Guard – which will be available both on the New Guard website and Stylerunner – is streetwear inspired by a global attitude (pictured)

Ms Stevanja’s latest line – New Guard – which will be available both on the New Guard website and Stylerunner – is streetwear inspired by a global attitude.

‘We had the idea for New Guard, because we all wanted to wear tracksuits more and more,’ Ms Stevanja explained.

‘These days, everyone is wearing track-inspired pieces, we all go to work in activewwear. We wanted something track, but elevated and feminine.’

Hence New Guard. The range is priced between $69 and $179 and is aimed at any woman who wants to move effortlessly between the office and her spinning class:

‘At Stylerunner, it’s pretty fabulous. We’ll be in activewear so we can have walking meetings, go to Pilates straight after work and still look good in the office. It’s all track skirts and bomber jackets,’ Ms Stevanja said.

The 36-year-old also has plans to bring ‘more products to the Stylerunner consumer and bring exactly what she doesn’t have to her wardrobe’:

‘We still think there are a few key brands we could get on board,’ she told FEMAIL. ‘We’re not going to stop here.’

For more information about Stylerunner, you can visit the website here. You can also find out more about New Guard and shop the debut collection here 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk