From workout buddies to business partners: How SweatDay Active’s founders turned a hobby into a business—in the middle of a pandemic

For this month, Variable is making a space for women, as we feature startups led by women and see how technology has helped them thrive.

Admit it, many of us have been cooped up by the COVID-19 pandemic for far too long. Some people have even started their own businesses as a way to adapt. But figuring out what kind of business to start is always a challenge. For the founders of SweatDay Active—the answer came as they were doing their favorite hobby.

SweatDay Active, which just launched this February, is the brainchild of Stephanie Cabañes and Katrina Principe. The two long-time friends had become online workout buddies during the pandemic, taking online fitness classes via Zoom when the lockdowns started.

“It started off as a way for us to connect together,” says Cabañes. “We literally would set up Zoom exercise dates on weekdays.”

It was out of these sessions that the friends realized the opportunity that they had to start a business selling activewear for women—they realized that they themselves were the market for what they would be selling.

“It helps when you are the consumer yourself, so you know what you want,” explained Principe. She also noted that due to the lockdowns, there were very few shops selling activewear that were open.

This fact could also be a hurdle to anyone looking to open a business, but this was where technology came into play. (Read: Technology and working from home, during the time of COVID-19)

Technology makes starting a business in 2021 much easier

A few years back, Cabañes, Principe and another friend tried to start a different business, selling swimwear. Back then, they took the traditional route of going to Divisoria to try to find suppliers. But they had issues finding suppliers, forcing them to drop the idea.

With that no longer being an option, Cabañes and Principe turned to the internet, specifically to AliExpress. Here, not only did they discover that they could still find suppliers even during the pandemic, but that it was actually much easier to do business online.

“The advent of technology has allowed us to do the end-to-end process,” explained Cabañes. According to her, the internet has made it much easier for small and medium enterprises (SME) like SweatDay Active to get what it needs.

“A few years ago, for people to source these kinds of products globally, you had to go to China to do the expo,” she stated. “You have to go there, go to expo—who can do that? Not SMEs.”

Beyond that, technology has also allowed them to reach out to potential buyers without having to create a brick-and-mortar store.

Indeed, SweatDay active does its sales through its Instagram account, which has been made out to look like an online store. Here, cleverly laid out Instagram stories provide customers with all the information they need to order what they want. Those who do order can do so via GCash or online bank transfers.

Technology has also helped the company save some money with certain processes. Instead of buying inventory management software, Cabanes explained that they created their own system on Google Sheets. They just had help from a tutorial video that they found on YouTube.

Talking to Cabañes and Principe, it’s clear how much technology has helped SwearDay Active. Technology made the process of both starting it up and then running it much easier. Indeed, when asked about what advice they’d give any women looking to start their own businesses, their answer was simple.

“Just start.”

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Franz Co

managing editor | addicted to RGB | plays too many fighting games

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