Stylerunner and Her Black Book’s Co-Founder on What It’s Really Like to Be a Female Entrepreneur

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I’m Sali, a mother of three, a breast cancer survivor and the twin sister to Julie (who is also my business partner). 

Back in 2012, Julie and I started the e-commerce activewear destination, Stylerunner. At the time, we weren’t looking to start a business, but we noticed a gap in the market and decided to fill it. 

There was definitely a lot more pressure a decade ago with “being a young entrepreneur”, including the unsustainable expectation around having to work all day and all night. 

Despite our achievements over those early years and making waves globally, being a woman in business was incredibly tough. It didn’t matter how well we did or tried, we couldn’t find anyone willing to back two young women in tech, let alone sportswear.

Growing up, our dad used to always say, “You want something, you need to go out and get it. If you fail, you get back up”. Both our parents — my dad, a builder and shopkeeper, and my mother, a night shift factory worker — taught us resilience. They were hard workers and would do whatever they could for their four daughters. 

I grew up thinking, “one day I want to not only give my children a life they can be proud of, but I want to be able to give back to my parents who gave us so much from so little”. I feel fortunate to have been able to repay that favour.

Working with my sister was both fun and somewhat challenging. We went from living in different parts of the world and not having seen each other regularly for a decade, to living together and working together — heck, we even drove to the office together.

Just before starting Stylerunner, I entered remission for breast cancer. In hindsight, I’ve always felt that breast cancer has been my hidden blessing — it’s helped me not sweat the small stuff and to practice focusing on what I have to be grateful for.

In 2015, I exited the business, purely to take a break from start-up life and pursue other passions. I mentored women in start-ups and successfully started and sold several businesses, including a really cool wine bar in Adelaide, Leigh Street Wine Room, and an online wine store Juice Traders. 

Fast forward to 2021 and a pandemic, enter: Her Black Book, an app for women who love to shop. Created from frustrations — as a consumer I struggled with finding deals and coupons — I realised it was another gap in the market and approached Julie with the idea. Here we are, back together and doing what we love.

It’s already so much more fluid. We understand each other’s strengths and respect each other’s vision, both professionally and personally. It’s probably something to do with being older and wiser. We also make time to refuel the mind which is so important.

Because of our own personal experiences in business, we always wanted to give back in way of a grant, but make it far less convoluted to enter than what I had often experienced. There are so many incredible women out there with brilliant ideas. 

Which brought about a Her Black Blook partnership with Samsung. Together, to celebrate and support the next generation of entrepreneurial women, we created an easy-to-apply grant. We wanted them to get the kickstart they deserve.

To have the support of such a globally recognised and forward-thinking brand feels incredible, and certainly makes us appreciate the journey of how far we’ve come — as two women in tech, with an idea. 

To be in the running for one of two grants valued at over $20,000 each (includes $10,000 cash, Samsung tech suite of product, and business mentoring from Sali and Julie), enter via herblackbook.com/samsung by March 7, 2022. T&C’s apply.

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