Sportswear Designer and Personal Trainer Charli Cohen graduated Kingston University in 2012 and has already achieved great things. Charli is an example of someone passionate about what they do and destined to succeed with her hard work and positive attitude. Her latest collection, Charli Cohen is stylish luxury sportswear which she will tell you more about herself in the interview. Charli explains the importance of time management and gives us some tips on staying healthy as a student/graduate. With awards already under her belt and a pop up shop on the way, Charli has an exciting future ahead but also understands the importance of creating balance in her life. We interviewed Charli while she was spending time with her family in New Zealand for Christmas.
Firstly I want to say you must be superwoman, how did you juggle your personal training alongside your fashion degree?
I'm impatient. The sooner I could get my career off the ground the better ? anything I could get up and running alongside my degree seemed like a great use of time. It never felt like juggling as such ? when you really want to do something (and love it!), you make time for it. There's always time. I 'sacrificed' my social life but it was something I was happy to do. Typical student life wasn't really my thing anyway!
What was the most important thing you've learnt from uni that you have taken with you into your professional life?
Always, always, always allow contingency time! Never plan to work right up to a deadline. Things inevitably run off-schedule ? the more you're relying on others, the more this happens ? and there are no extensions in the real world.
You started designing in your teens with your t-shirt and womenswear collection, that's pretty impressive and showed you were destined to be a fashion designer. You must have had a great support network around?
I've been fortunate enough to always have incredible support and backing! A great family friend mentored me through my first business start-up aged 15, which was invaluable and I've had a number of wonderful opportunities to learn first-hand about running a business and working in the fashion industry.
So where did you passion for health and fitness come from?
When I was in my mid-teens, I suffered from an eating disorder. I recovered by myself and through that did a monumental amount of research into nutrition and exercise science. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say health and fitness saved my life ? the idea of being able to help just one other person through that spurred me to get my qualifications.
Lots of students struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle, how did you manage to keep up your own training and healthy diet whilst busy with uni work? Are there any tips you can give to students/graduates?
As with everything at uni, it's all about time management. Don't set yourself up with a workout routine that's going to be impossible to maintain throughout your course and choose a fitness activity you enjoy enough to keep yourself motivated. If you can rope in some friends for accountability, all the better! With food, buying in bulk, prepping in advance and having a number of 5 minute meal options on hand really helps. Training and good nutrition kept me sane through uni, so I always created enough time to keep it up.
I love your Charli Cohen sportswear collection, and it looks like big things are going to happen- congratulations! For a girl on a budget when it comes to sportswear what makes your brand worth paying that little bit more for?
I aim to balance statement with sophistication ? classic, flattering shapes are given a twist with bold colour blocking, anatomical panelling and tough hardware. The idea behind each design is that it should function as a high performance garment in the gym but also as sport-luxe fashion wear ? one shouldn't compromise the other. Fabric is really important to me too ? not only are all the fabrics I use high tech but also super-soft and tactile. I want to step away from the traditional shiny or scratchy sportswear fabrics and provide a luxurious alternative. The garments are all UK-made and limited edition ? I want to create something special, different from other sportswear on the market and I refuse to cut any corners on quality or design. Finally, my biggest USP is that I'm both fashion trained AND fitness trained and can draw on both knowledge bases when I design ? I have a very real understanding of how a garment needs to function and perform, as well as how to create something stylish and flattering.
What's a typical day like for Charli?
I have 'work days' and 'meetings days'. On a work day, an inordinate amount of time is spent in front of the laptop, doing one thing or another. Running a business, admin and management is about 90% of it, actual design about 10%. On a meetings day, it's back to back with press, other wellness professionals, factory visits, so on and so forth. Getting out and meeting people is very important ? believe it or not, lots of exciting opportunities have been born out of meetings that were instigated with complete strangers on Twitter! Alongside this, I do various consulting ? the online PT, then also marketing and branding. And of course training myself!
Time management is a massive skill to learn for students and young professionals? Do you ever feel overwhelmed and feel like you need to slow down and how do you deal with managing that?
I do sometimes feel overwhelmed but the clich? about life never giving you more than you can handle is definitely true. It always works out, even when the deadlines seem impossible. Lists, schedules, discipline and knowing exactly what's going on at all times is essential when the workload really piles up. I'm not very good at slowing down ? back to that impatience issue?
What/who gives you passion and motivation?
I've always set big goals for myself and I'm pretty tenacious ? my own ambition and refusal to settle definitely keeps me going.
In addition to this, I have some truly incredible people around. They continue to inspire and motivate with their own amazing pursuits and with their on-going support of mine.
And finally, let us know one new years resolution, maybe we can check in with you this time next year and see how you got on with it?
Now that the business is up and running, I'm hoping to gradually inject a bit more of a work-life balance into 2014. It'll be tough but I know that my business (and everything else) will ultimately benefit from me operating a bit more sustainably than I have been. There simply isn't time to burn out!
|Source - vergemagazine.co.uk||Read Full Interview|