We did talk to Venus about her EleVen and Vstar, how she juggles tennis and designing
By Diedre Johnson
You might ask what more could Venus Williams (or her sister Serena) want?
She recently won the doubles with sister Serena at Wimbledon 2016 and despite losing to British player, Johanna Konta at the more recent U.S. Open, she is still ranked 6th in the world in singles tennis. Williams net worth is estimated in the double digit high millions yet she and her celebrated sister, have always had entrepreneurial dreams.
Serena got a nail technician license before introducing a nail line. Venus got an associate degree in fashion design. While sister Serena has focused more on branding her fashion lines by working with Puma, Nike and even the U.S.-based Home Shopping Network (HSN), Venus has been more grassroots, preferring to indulge her love of interior design as well as fashion by starting two companies: VStarr, a boutique interior design company, and EleVen by Venus, a clothing line with every single piece designed by her.
And we won’t even talk about the sisters investing in the Miami Dolphins football team. We did talk to Venus about her EleVen and Vstarr, how she juggles tennis and designing, her struggles with the autoimmune Sjogren’s Disease and just whom she sees as the perfect EleVen customer.
Did you always love fashion and interior design?
ALWAYS! The emotion, strength and stylish flair that you see on the court is the same passion that is put into each and every garment. When I first started VStarr ten years ago, the vision was to create timeless beautiful interiors.
We have designed everything from presidential suites at the Intercontinental Hotel, Downtown Miami to working at athletic facilities at multiple colleges and universities around the country.
When you were growing up and your dad was coaching you and your sister, did you also have ambitions to do something like you are doing now with the clothing line?
My mom and dad always taught that, even when you’re facing tremendous obstacles and the world has counted you out, you don’t just give into it and give up. You always need to stay strong and true to yourself. When my career is over, I always want people to remember me not only as a fierce competitor but as someone who loves and respects the game of tennis and each of my opponents. At a young age, I learned the importance of planning, responsibility, and a strong work ethic.
Also, how have you managed to find time to design the collection, of course, play and do all that you do?
It’s easy to stay focused when you are so passionate about something. Our mission at EleVen is pretty simple. To fashion healthier lives. The name represents how we strive to live every day — that is, without limits. In our world, ‘10’ is just another number, but EleVen is a lifestyle. We are about challenging your status quo, embracing positive change, and pushing beyond whatever is holding you back from living your ideal life. Nothing gets me more excited than knowing that our product inspires other women for greatness.
Please describe your typical work day.
When I am not traveling for tournaments, I am in the office. My mornings are spent on the court followed by the gym. Then my afternoons are spent right here in the office doing everything from sketching my next design, writing presentations, picking out fabrics, conducting interviews and even packing boxes.There is something always going on in the office.
How many people are employed in each of your companies?
We have a team of eight in-house at EleVen with over 20 sales reps around the country. We also have a team of eight working for VStarr!
Who do you see as the EleVen customer?
EleVen’s are women who want to look good and feel even better. They are the dreamers and the doers. The focused and the hungry. The confident and the courageous. The trend-setters who are not afraid to fail. The determined and the fearless. The women who aspire to accomplish whatever goals and dreams they set their minds to. The self-assured who are ready to take on any and ALL challenges that come their way
In designing this line, how did tennis outfits influence you and, what kind of clothes did you want to design that would convey tennis in your creations?
I always felt activewear was limited. On the court, I struggled to find clothing that allowed me to best express the way I could. I set out to create something that would represent much more than I could ever achieve on the tennis court: clothing that allows you to express your individuality, cultivate strength and confidence and makes you feel good every time you put it on.
Where can consumers find the line?
Consumers can find the line at any of the below
It’s no secret you’ve had to deal with illness while playing tennis and, I assume in all your career endeavors. How have you coped?
There’s only so much you can do, so I’ve definitely had to adjust a lot but I just see it as a challenge because in my life I’ve never been defeated by anything.
Any advice for others coping with a chronic illness while uber-achieving in life?
My advice is to be proud of who you are. Self-expression has always been very important to me. I was always taught to stand up for what I believe in, while always pushing myself beyond my limits. That is what being an EleVen means. We help you accomplish WHATEVER it is that motivates you, while inspiring you to look good at the same time.
What are you looking forward to in tennis and with EleVen?
I am incredibly excited to see what the future holds. I have a great team that I truly feel blessed to have work with me.
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