Corin Powell is basically the Lisa Minelli of the activewear world – i.e. a deadset legend. After founding Running Bare with her husband Brian back in the ’80s (the first Aussie-owned women’s activewear brand, mind you), their collection of brightly printed leotards, unitards and catsuits quickly garnered cult-like status. Fast forward to 2018 and a lot has changed since their humble beginnings in Bondi Beach. Now an international empire, the brand boasts more than two-dozen stores across the country and NZ. Here, the duo’s daughter and design director Yolanda chats work-life balance, functional fashion and making a mark on the ever-expanding athleisure industry.
Where did the inspiration to start up Running Bare come from?
My parents started the Running Bare business in 1983. My father Brian was a fabric wholesaler and had been selling fabrics in the late ’70s to all the big fashion houses in Australia. My mother Corin is a fashionista who at the time was doing jazzercise classes and didn’t think there was any fashionable activewear around, so seeing a hole in the market they decided to start the business.
Had you had any experience running a business prior to this?
My childhood was spent admiring my parents and how they run the business, and all their experiences have been passed on to me one way or another. I grew up with the business being my parent’s third child. It was the topic around the dinner table every night of my life, so I think it’s just in my blood. My parents have been, and continue to be, instrumental in shaping the way I continue to run the business today. They are the voices in my head.
What is the philosophy behind the Running Bare brand?
Running Bare have been empowering women since 1983, giving fitness minded, feminine, fashion-forward females the self-belief and confidence to look good and feel great.
Running Bare is made by women, for women, and our primary focus is to constantly push the boundaries by creating fierce fitness fashion that embraces superior performance, quality and design. We believe that beauty – true female beauty, is ageless. The most glamorous, ageless, timeless beauties in the world, in fact, transcend all ages.
Where do you get your inspiration behind your designs?
We design our RB collections with the fitness-focused, fashion-conscious female in mind. The woman that wears Running Bare enjoys fashion. Ultimately what’s important to us is that we design for all women, not a certain type of woman. Whoever you are, whatever size you are, we make sure you are fiercely fashionable, feminine and above all, functional.
You’re celebrating 35 years in 2018. What do you credit to the brand’s success and longevity?
Running Bare has always remained committed to its core values and as a brand, we pride ourselves in staying at the forefront of the Australian consumer’s attitude towards activewear. Women understand that working out is a life choice. They are constantly on the go. And as such, one needs to look after the body and the mind.
Our customer has grown up with us and we have been able to adapt to our customer whilst still being able to embrace what’s hot in athleisure. The Running Bare woman is working as much on the outside as she is on the inside. This is still a Running Bare woman, after all. She doesn’t compromise on fashion.
If you could give women one piece of business advice, what would it be?
Surround yourself with good people, you cannot do this alone. It really does take a village.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced with the business to date and how did you overcome these?
In the early years, we took a few tough hits internationally as we dabbled in the overseas market which forced us to refuse our energies locally here and in New Zealand. Which worked out for the best.
How has your approach to work-life balance changed over the years?
Over the years I’ve always made time for myself, be that working out or taking a moment to spend time with friends. But having my own family has definitely changed my approach to work-life balance – spending quality time with my husband and daughters has become a priority.
What do you wish you knew when you first started?
Understand there is no OFF button. You are on ALL the time. And the buck always, always stops with YOU as the boss. It will consume you and everything you do, so be sure you are willing to live that sort of life. And if you do accept this – as hard as it can, it will pay you back tenfold in pride and personal satisfaction and achievement.
What’s your prediction for the next big trend in activewear?
To us, the RB customer dictates the next trend, women are after new fabrics and innovations. They want the newest technology without compromising on style or function. Performance fabrics are now leading the way.
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