We’re all totally fitness obsessed right now aren’t we? If you’re thinking of starting a fitness brand or finding some super stylish gym wear for your after work work out, then you’ve reached the right place.
We met Caroline-Christine Wilhelm, the founder and CEO of Copé Active. We talked about the challenges she faced when she set up the company, her “pinch me” moment and why being an entrepreneur is totally rewarding.
1. Why did you decide to start Copé Active? Talk us through your career journey?
Copé Active is really about combining two of my biggest passions; fitness and fashion. While working and studying in New York City, I found my passion for studio workout classes. I witnessed changes in my body due to healthier food choices, and fell in love with the post-workout brunch culture. In NYC, there was a clear fashion trend that grew around this particular lifestyle, and it was booming.
When I relocated to London, I saw my beloved casual workout culture just starting up. Personal training gyms and small studio gyms such as Barrecore, Core Collective and the Clean and Lean-Bodyism gym were opening shortly one after the other. These inspired me to start Copé Active and bring the newest, luxury activewear from all around the world to Europe.
2. What have been the biggest struggles you’ve faced in launching the brand?
There are a few struggles that made it tough in the beginning, most of them had to do with the fact that I had little knowledge of the retail space, particularly in the logistics surrounding e-commerce.
Understanding the technology of running an e-commerce business, hiring a consultant, working out finance and making all of those areas work together was particularly challenging.
The next challenge was to understand my target market; what does the European Copé lady like to wear, in what colours and in what sizes. What seemed impossible and extremely difficult at first is slowly coming together. So far starting Copé has been extremely rewarding.
3. What have been the top highlights or ‘pinch me’ moment?
The highlight for me was when the website went live in August of last year. I had worked on it since February of the same year after quitting my full time job in consulting. When it all came together and orders started poured in it was really exciting – I literally had to ‘pinch’ myself!
4. How has travelling influenced your brand?
Traveling and especially living in the US for 6 years has definitely influenced what Copé Active is all about. Living in New York and traveling to the West Coast has opened my eyes about the growing culture of athleisure. I witnessed new, innovative activewear brands starting up. Alongside it came a culture of relaxed fashion, where women started going to brunch in their leggings. This has become not only acceptable but fashionable. When I moved back to Europe, I missed this lifestyle too much to not do anything about it. This is when the the idea for Copé came about.
5. What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best bit of advice I’ve ever been given was from my father. He would always remind me that when life gets overwhelming, take it one step at the time. Taking apart the big mountain of to-do’s and tackling them one by one helps me to get it all done, no matter how long the list is.
6. What career would you be in if you weren’t doing what you’re doing?
If I wasn’t doing what I am doing, I would gather investors and open up a health and fitness members club in Germany. I am German and every time I go back home, I realise how far behind we are regarding fitness and well-being, let alone members clubs.