Meet Nimble Activewear’s Katia Santilli
Katia Santilli co-founded Nimble Activewear with her best friend Vera Yan seven years ago, in 2014.
The two managed not to only to disrupt the market, but to do it consciously – their commitment to sustainability goes beyond lip service and every pair of their MoveLite leggings uses an average of 6 recycled plastic bottles in its fabrication.
So far, they’ve saved over a million bottles from going to landfill. When we ask her about challenges, Katia tells us that the biggest one has been “how fast we’ve grown, which sounds like a humblebrag, but I promise it’s not!”
Here, we meet the inspiring founder.
Activewear is a pretty saturated market. What gave you the confidence to launch Nimble?
Vera and I launched Nimble 6 years ago because we saw the need for stylish yet high performing activewear for Australian women. From the start it was important to us to be part of our community, and do more than dress women, which is why we partner with Change to give $1 from every sale to fund projects that are dedicated to protecting our reefs and restoring our lands and design using sustainable materials.
In terms of sustainability, Nimble is doing good things. Can you talk us through your sustainable features, and was this a part of the business plan from the very beginning?
Nimble’s singular goal is to create activewear that empowers women to run their own race and celebrate individuality. This has always been the cornerstone of our brand and underpins all that we do. As the business has grown and we have seen the impact that the fashion industry can have on our environment, we have shifted our manufacturing process to ensure that our business makes considered decisions, and reduces unnecessary wastage wherever we can.
We have saved almost 1 million plastic bottles from going into landfill (and our oceans) through our core MoveLite range. On average, six recycled plastic bottles are used in each pair of MoveLite leggings, and two to four recycled plastic bottles are used in our sports bras.
We’re really committed to finding ways to lessen our environmental impact and as such, we’ve also turned our focus to our packaging. All products are now packaged in compostable poly bags and we have just launched compostable mailing bags with our online orders to further reduce our eco footprint.
You and Vera have been friends since high school - how have you navigated all the transitions? Any tips for maintaining a solid friendship when going into business together?
Vera and I became instant best friends at 14 when we attended high school together in Melbourne. Inseparable, we bonded over our love of R ‘n’ B and aerobics.
Communication and being open is a necessity. We’ve learnt over the last 6 years of being in business together that it’s best to address anything as they come up rather than assume the other person may know what you’re thinking. The beauty of going into business with your BFF is that with the long history and friendship, the awkwardness is minimal.
What’s been the most challenging part of your journey with Nimble?
One of the biggest challenges has been how fast we’ve grown, which sounds like a humblebrag, but I promise it’s not! It’s been incredible to see the brand up to the point where we now have 2 retail stores – which will shortly become three, a global online and wholesale business, as well as a growing team, but with that rapid growth comes big growing pains.
We’re a completely self-funded business so we’ve had to be really strategic and calculated with our funds, but it’s helped us to become better business owners and that can only be a great thing.
You lead an active lifestyle. Have did you keep that up during pregnancy?
Provided there were no complications it was really important to me to ensure I kept active throughout my pregnancy. Danica from Lagree in Double Bay was an absolute dream to work with throughout my pregnancy. She is trained in prenatal, is a mum herself and has been guiding me with modifications.