The fashion, sportswear and fitness innovator gives us a glimpse into her job, her motivation and her journey to the top
At the age of 24, fashion designer and personal trainer Charli Cohen has already achieved the type of career that those twice her age would dream of. With her cutting edge collections having been featured in Elle, British Vogue (modelled by the beautiful Kate Upton), Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times, Glamour and us of course, her lux activewear has quickly acquired a loyal and cult following, making her label one of the most covetable and sought after around. Also throw in the fact that she’s somehow found time to co-create video workout hub That Girl London with in-demand personal trainer Christina Howells too and suffice to say, we’re in awe.
Since graduating as Womenswear Student Of The Year from Kingston University in 2012, her career’s gone from strength to strength and so we caught up with the fashion and fitness innovator to ask her about her journey so far, her top career advice and what it’s been like seeing her business develop from promising start-up to the huge success it is today.
GTG: Could you describe for us what your job entails? What does a typical day look like for you?
CC: Running my own business and heading up design for other companies, my days are rarely the same from one to the next! Work can be anything from designing, to factory visits, to PR, accounting, marketing, sourcing, research, sales, shoots, international travel and as I start to build my team, managing and delegating...I love the variety and being involved in every aspect of the business.
GTG: What inspires you when it comes to developing a new collection?
CC: First and foremost I’m inspired by movement and watching people train. Beyond that, it might be my travels, an image I’ve found or even just something someone has said that sets my brain whirring!
GTG: What’s the most challenging project you have worked on?
CC: I think sustaining my young business as a whole, especially in the first year whilst I was a complete one-woman show. I’m slowly starting to be able to streamline my roles in the business a little, but in the beginning you just have to throw yourself at everything, especially when there isn’t the budget to outsource or even the time to train up an intern to help.
GTG: What motivates you?
CC: This is all I ever wanted to do, so I HAVE to make it work. There isn’t a back-up plan and I don’t want there to be. That’s enough to keep me pushing ahead!
GTG: How do you organise yourself?
CC: I’m a bit of a list junkie. My current favourite thing is the Workflowy app – it’s a really simple way for me to organise my diary and each day’s to-do list. I also try to stack my meetings together as much as possible so I have at least 2 clear days per week dedicated to admin, design et al. I also try to plan my week’s workouts in advance. And in recent months, I’ve started to schedule in a me day too – it’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally accepted it’s impossible to be productive for any length of time (or healthy) when you’re working 24/7.
GTG: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do what you do?
CC: It’s important to be super-organised and super-resilient. When you’re running a business (especially in fashion) if something can go wrong, it probably will. You need be able to stay on top of everything all the time and leave nothing to chance. Know your numbers too – being talented and creative is one thing but funding yourself beyond the first season takes serious planning and a whole lot of risk taking!
GTG: What's next for you?
CC: I have some very exciting collaborations coming out this year and I’m also working to expand Charli Cohen’s product range, which is fun. We’ve just got access to some really exciting new technologies and I can’t wait to start pushing design and performance even further with next season’s collection.
See Charli’s latest collections at www.charli-cohen.com and follow her at @CharliCohen.