We are very excited to announce that Stylerunner, founded by Julie Stevanja, one of our alumni students who has just been listed on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ‘Rising Star’ List.

This has been a big month for Stylerunner, which was also recently listed on the BRW Fast Starter List.

Julie says: “We’re ecstatic and incredibly proud of what our team has achieved. That award means that we are essentially one of the fastest growing businesses under 3 years old in Australia, which is huge.”

Since Julie Stevanja co-founded her online fitness fashion store Stylerunner in 2012, the company has experienced exponential growth.

In just 3 years Stylerunner’s revenue has grown 1736%,  amassed a loyal Instagram following of almost 400k, and has shipped to over 100 countries internationally. This is just the beginning for Stylerunner, Julie says she will will continue to grow the team and expand their international reach over the next 12 months.

We caught up with Julie to find out exactly what it took to grow Stylerunner so quickly, and get some words of wisdom for entrepreneurs wanting to follow in her footsteps.

To find out how our tailored education programs and community can help you grow your business: click here to book in a free discovery session.

What do you attribute growing your business so quickly to? What sets you apart from other startups?
Passion for the Product
One of them is having a love for the product. Being passionate about the product we are offering and bringing consumers the absolute best experience in our niche. For us it was never just a matter of starting a store. It has always been about understanding our customers and providing them with an incredible product and overall experience.

Customer Experience
We really want to deliver exceptional service and experience. It’s not just about transacting. It’s about making sure we think about a customer’s experience of Stylerunner from everything from the conversation we are having on our Instagram and website, through to the purchase experience and after sale service.Really it’s about caring, and caring more than anyone else!

We’re very authentic in our marketing. We love sharing photos of our customers, the real community who are buying our products, rather than just using air brushed campaigns. For us it’s always been about having a two-way conversation through social media rather than pushing a marketing message.

You sell some major brands on Stylerunner, LuluLemon; Lorna Jane; and Nike (to name a few). What did you do to attract brands before launching?
A big part of it is demonstrating the quality and the value that you’ll add back to these brands before you even go to them. We set up a holding page before we launched. This let us show the brands we were approaching what Stylerunner would look like visually – the high quality of the images and over overall design aesthetic and branding.

We also created an incredible community of followers through social media before launching. This meant we could show brands the audience we would be communicating their brand to.

Doing these things meant that when we approached brands we weren’t just saying: “Hi, can we have your products?”  We were able to say: “This is what we are able to offer you, this is how we will be presenting your products, and this is who we will be sharing your message with.”

Essentially, it’s about really protecting the brands that you’re bringing on and giving them confidence that you will manage their brands well and add value to them.

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What has been your biggest challenge since starting Stylerunner?
For me there have been a lot of learnings around startup culture and people. Working for a startup is very different to anything you have ever done before. You need to be agile. You need to be ok with, and embrace, change. You have to able to wear many hats. You have to make sure you’re hiring the right people.

Hiring in the early days is also challenging. You might have hired someone who has expertise in a particular area and they seem like a perfect fit on paper, but they can’t keep up with the pace and culture of a startup. I’ve learnt that you need to ensure in the recruitment stage that you share a lot of information about what it takes to work in a startup, and your company principals.

Building an Instagram following in the early days is something a lot of small businesses struggle with. Especially when you’re starting at 0. What’s your advice for building a strong following?
1. Think about the saying, “Your vibe attracts your tribe”.
If you want to attract the right people for your business think about your overall ‘vibe.’ It shouldn’t be about just  posting product posts, it’s about asking yourself, ‘What do our audience want to be reading and looking at?’ Once you understand the feel of your tribe then you can share content that is relevant to them. For our community this means we share health, lifestyle and aspirational content as well as the products we sell.

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2. Share high quality and engaging content
Once you have identified the kinds of content you want to share, make sure the images you choose are beautiful, and that what you write about them engaging and encourages your audience to join the conversation.

3. Inject yourself in other conversations
Look at hashtags that are relevant to you and start interacting with people that have shared those hashtags already. Comment on and like others photos and there’s a big chance that they’ll want to know who are you are and will start following your back. Knock on the right doors though – target your ideal clientele when doing this.

4. Celebrity influencers
We send out products out to a lot of celebrities, but we’ve never paid anyone to post anything on Instagram for us. We have a lot of influential friends on social media, with large followings and who have helped us draw a crowd. This is a really effective way to reach large audiences and bring awareness to your brand.

If you’re approaching celebrities with larger followings, make sure that you approach them with something that they would love and feels organic to their own social media presence. We’ve found that the celebrities we’ve gifted love our products so much that they can’t help but tell their audiences!

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If you found this story interesting, and you are looking for strategies to grow your business, our Entrepreneur Development Managers are available to discuss your business goals. Click here to book in a discovery session.