Have you ever been captivated by someone’s raw desire to succeed in their chosen field and the determination displayed to ensure they achieve what they set out to achieve? Well, This Woman’s Word is currently smitten with this young lady’s very ambitious and entrepreneurial mindset who, at the tender age of 15 launched her first fashion business and her personal training consultancy when she was aged 18! For those that have met her personally would agree she has such an infectious personality yet driven like you wouldn’t believe. This Woman’s Word is proud to be shining the spotlight on 23 year old Charli Cohen.
I have been following Charli via Twitter for a while now and back in September, was personally invited to two of her trunk shows to view her debut sports luxe colletion entitled VIS. Whilst trying on a few pieces I instantly fell in love with the yellow laser leggings, amplify hoodie and velocity jacket as sported by me in the pics below *minus the laser leggings*
I got talking to the young british designer about the collection in more detail whilst discussing the possibility of interviewing her who, funnily enough, attended the same University as me (Kingston Uni) and graduated in Fashion Design a day apart from my Quantity Surveying graduation last year. *such a small world*
Despite her ever busy schedule, Charli kindly set aside a few hours this week to talk to me about all things VIS, Fitness, Fashion and her new 30 day project entitled the ‘CC Effect’.
Eager to understand her evident passion for fitness I began the interview with the following question….
How did your fascination for fitness, in particular nutrition and the science aspect of both topics become of interest to you?
I struggled with anorexia in my mid-teens – educating myself on fitness and nutrition was an instrumental part of my recovery. I moved away from the fads and myths spouted by popular media and immersed myself in journals and studies instead.
The more I learnt, the more frustrated I became with all the widely-believed misinformation out there – especially for women – and made it my mission to help others avoid making the mistakes that I had.
What is your preferred method(s) of keeping fit and active?
I’m addicted to high-intensity resistance training, be it with weights or bodyweight. I’ve recently added Olympic lifting into this as well – I love the functionality of it. I believe it’s important to have goals other than physique-focused ones – strength goals are a great alternative.
Name two sporting disciplines, events or races you have yet to try but would you like to take up if you had the time set aside to do so?
-Competitive Olympic lifting
What is your favorite post workout meal after an intense training session?
Oh it varies! I have a mega sweet tooth so when time permits, some sort of baked or brunch-style protein concoction. Otherwise a giant salmon salad with lots of wholesome goodies in it does the trick too.
As a personal trainer, you are familiar with the term ‘cheat days’. What are your thoughts on this topic?
I think it’s generally a recipe for disaster, perpetuating unhealthy all or nothing, binge/purge habits. My style is more ‘fitting in’ off plan foods as and when (even daily) in moderation. Working out how to consistently balance healthy eating with the rest of your life and without depriving yourself is far more valuable – it stays with you for life rather than just for the duration of your ‘diet’.
This said, in very specific circumstances (e.g. leaning up for a physique competition), a weekly carb-up meal (note that I’m not using the word ‘cheat’) can be an important part of the plan.
There are a lot of myths within the fitness industry. What is the most bizarre myth you have come across?
I don’t know about bizarre but the most annoying one for me is that women will get ‘bulky’ is they lift heavy weights.
Nutrition is the most important part of leading and fit and healthy lifestyle. What does your daily food diary consist of?
I’m on the go a lot of the time so it varies, but generally three meals a day based around protein, fibre and healthy fats (I tend to eat fairly low-carb by preference). Coffee and dark chocolate are a daily feature too. I don’t actively cut foods out – I focus on eating a varied, balanced diet based around wholesome natural foods that taste good!
Have you always been a fashion conscious individual?
Yes! I’ve always loved clothes, make-up and styling. As soon as I could take pencil to paper, I was designing my perfect wardrobe.
How did your love affair with fitness and fashion begin?
Fitness and fashion are my two biggest passions and I realised early on I didn’t want to choose between them. I qualified as a personal trainer during the first year of my fashion degree, had my epiphany that sportswear was the perfect consolidation of the two and the rest is history!
Studying for a degree is hard at the best of times yet alone taking on another qualification. What led to the decision to complete a personal training and nutrition course alongside an intense 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.
How did you cope with juggling two very demanding qualifications simultaneously and what sacrifices did you have to make to ensure both were successfully completed?
It never felt like coping as such – when you really want to do something, 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!
Fashion clearly plays an important part in your life, which designers do you take inspiration from and why?
I think it’s important as a fashion designer not to actively take inspiration from other designers’ collections – your own point of view can get lost and it’s all too easy to end up emulating existing designs, even if it’s unintentional. Inspiration to innovate should come from things outside fashion – for me that’s anatomy and movement.
However, the designers I most admire are Alexander Wang and Nicolas Ghesquiere.
Your first sports luxe collection entitled ‘VIS’ was launched back in July 2013 and is now available for pre order before being made available in selected stores in January 2014. In your opinion, what makes Charli Cohen pieces different from other sports luxe brands on the market?
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. 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 is your favorite piece of the VIS collection?
This is a tough one but probably the Laser Leggings. The black and grey ones are so versatile. I style them up to go out in almost as much as I wear them to actually train in!
Fitness and Fashion aside, what pastimes do you enjoy doing to take yourself away from the stresses of work?
I don’t ever really take myself away from it – I tend to read either fashion mags and blogs or nutrition studies in my downtime. I guess it just goes to show I really am doing what I love!
What can I say? This young lady is wise beyond her years and has drive and determination in abundance. I for one do not know many 23 year olds yet alone people my age and above who has accomplished half of what Charli has thus far and must say the future looks extremely bright for her! Her journey is really inspiring to others that are pondering over biting the bullet to start up a company themselves.
That said Charli needs your help! She is approaching the half way mark to her ‘CC Effect Kickstarter’ campaign, where she is on a quest to raise £30k in 30 days and below is a summary of how you can play your part to help her launch a pop-up shop in Central London to take the Charli Cohen debut collection to market.
The CC Effect and how YOU can help play an instrumental part
The CC Effect Kickstarter is running for 30 days where potential shoppers are encouraged to shop the full limited edition Charli Cohen range, purchase special kickstarter exclusives, VIP event tickets and creative christmas gifts currently available to this project. Every single purchase will go towards raising the £30k target for The CC Effect Pop-up Shop to go ahead. Rather than simply donating money to the cause, you are basically buying something for the value of your pledge which as Charli calls it “shopping to support”.
Head on over to The CCEffect Kickstarter where you can treat yourself or someone else to fabulous gifts ranging from £5 – £5k all whilst playing a truly instrumental role in the success of the Charli Cohen brand *it’s worth checking out and backing, trust me*
Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment due to be published later on this week where I will be be catching up with an awesome woman who has ran 7 marathons on 7 continents!
Until then, continue having a wonderful and productive day people 🙂