Soar co-founder Celeste Kocabay is creating a brand that empowers
Celeste's professional career spans over a decade working with some of Australia's household names in the startup ecosystem. Her role at Atlassian as the Global Executive Recruitment Lead gave her startup buzz many fall in love with and the rest is history. The experience she has gained over the years with building a brand, hiring the right people and having a high conviction for the problem you are solving in the marketplace have put her in good stead for what lies ahead.
This year, Celeste decided it was finally time to branch out on her own. And Soar Active was born.
We caught up with the mother of four at her beachside home in Sydney's southern suburbs.
Tell us about the decision to go into business?
Those closest to me know how important living a healthy lifestyle and leading a life with heart and purpose is. With an Ironman already under my belt whilst being the mother to three children, I liked to think I live by the mantra that anything is possible. I feel raising four children has also shown me another perspective to the life I lead - I'd say a wider lens to look through. My role as a mother is to be those bumpers for my children and support them as they navigate their early tweens and teens. I want them to be courageous and inspired to SOAR in life, whilst loving the skin they are in.
When it came to dressing my own tween in a fitness label that embodied this, there was just nothing out there in the marketplace. Therefore Soar Active was born.
Why activewear for tweens?
I have three daughters (Alara, 7; Izel 4; Lale 12 months) and a wonderful little son (Zeki, 6). As my children started to get older and be exposed to more things, I became aware of the environment they were being raised in. I realised there was nothing sporty that our children could wear that was age appropriate and inclusive of all body shapes and sizes. Even the way that tween activewear is photographed is not inclusive.
And so, I saw a massive opportunity in the market to build a brand that stands for something. A brand around which I can build a strong community that lifts people up, while having a positive impact on the environment for our kids to enjoy.
What did you discover when you were planning the business?
I did a significant amount of research and some of the statistics that are coming through from ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) and the Australian Institute of Family Studies were alarming. For example, 40 per cent of Australian children don't participate in sport at all. And 56 per cent of girls aged between 10 and 14 don't do any sports outside of school, while only one in four children meet the guidelines for physical activity. The research also showed that girls worry more when it comes to their appearance and fitting in with friends. I thought, this needs to change.
So, what's your solution?
Soar Active is my solution; a brand that not only encourages participation in sport but is designed for young growing bodies from eight to 16, while getting the tick of approval from parents. We conducted a survey and found that a lot of tweens are finding it challenging to get comfortable activewear, and so parents are resorting to buying them adult activewear in small sizes. That's where we saw the need to design something that's fit for purpose, built for growing bodies, built for different shapes and sizes, but also really fun.
In what way are the clothes fun?
They feature on-trend colours and designs, plus you can actually swim in them; they have been tested for pool and ocean, so if you want to go out and jump on a paddleboard, you can. Many of our garments are even reversible, so you can pop a different colour if the mood takes you.
What's unique about Soar?
The way we've designed our garments to be age appropriate. So, for example, we feature higher necklines, we've been very conscious of making sure that the length of our garments is a little bit longer and not as fitted and structural as adult active wear. This means girls can feel confident, and parents can be happy with what they're dressing their children in.
Another unique thing about Soar is that our photo shoots feature girls. We showcase their awesomeness and what they love to do and who they are. It's not about striking a pose; it's about bringing together a group of five to eight tweens for a fun morning with a lot of laughter. There's considerable thought that goes into the content that we share, especially online. It's all about radiating empowerment, self-worth and body positivity.
Does Soar have a sustainability policy?
Definitely. From the day of launch, 60 per cent of our garments are made from recycled materials. I think that's pretty incredible and it's only going to improve.
What message do you want your brand to convey?
I want every girl to know that they are incredibly unique, that they are strong, and they are powerful. I want them to soar.
I'd also like to add that a percentage of each sale goes to Enlighten Education. Partnering with them was a huge celebration for us. We made sure even before we launched that we could give back by supporting a program that is having a magnitude of impact within Australia across schools. We are so happy to be part of that. We don't want to just be a brand that sells clothes, we want to be shaping and impacting the future generation of young women. A big shout out to Enlighten Education's founder, Dannielle Miller.
What do your daughters think about your new venture?
They are very, very excited. They are wearing it every day and already imagining themselves as mini-CEOs of Soar Active.