A personal journey of faith, family and fitness led Kiwis Veronika Edali and her husband Volkan to create Fit Generation Apparel (a modest activewear and swimwear brand) in November 2019.
"Through my connection to Islam I wear a hijab and dress modestly. For many years I struggled to find modest swimwear or activewear, there are simply not many options available in Western countries. And what was out there was neither comfortable nor functional."
"One day Volkan and I put our ideas together to design a perfect modest swimsuit that ticked all the boxes for me. The main thing is I wanted to feel good wearing something. It was a personal struggle but I thought if I’m struggling with this, there must be thousands of others too, and I was right. So Volkan and I decided to set up and start something of our own," she says.
Veronika is passionate about inspiring women and mothers. The birth of the couple’s son 18 months ago means she understands how hard parenting and working can be. "I wanted to walk the walk, and make a positive impact inspiring women," she says.
Their son was born at the beginning of 2019, and while Veronika saw this as a blessing, she admits it was also a ‘kick in the pants’, and after he was born the couple worked 'ten times harder'.
"We want the best in life for our son, and I think we made bolder choices after we became parents."
By empowering other Kiwi women with her personal journey Veronika becomes this month’s Dell Change Maker. Dell and The Project have been recognising New Zealanders who have made a positive social impact in the community through the Change Maker campaign.
Veronika’s fitness journey also inspired her business idea. "When I achieve my fitness goals I feel accomplished. I think if I can do that then I can do more," she says. "I feel in a better mood too, and can do amazing things."
"I found doing fitness changed me for the better and I became more confident in life and business. I wanted to share and spread this message with others," she says. "And I think more women want to live a healthy lifestyle and finding appropriate clothing can be a limiting factor that’s why we at Fit Generation Apparel made it our mission to design activewear for women like me that empowers them to show up with confidence without compromising on their values. I think if you improve one area of your life, then everything else changes."
Born and raised in Russia, Veronika moved to New Zealand when she was 15 years old.
She met Volkan at high school and became interested in the Islamic faith. She converted to Islam when she was 18, and started wearing a hijab in 2015.
Before setting up their business Veronika worked in the film industry and as a photographer, and Volkan as an aeronautical engineer.
After launching their business COVID also made its presence felt around the world. "At first when it all happened people weren’t in a buying mood. But at the same time everyone was at home on social media. We decided to double down and produce great quality content," Veronika says.
This is when their creative communication skills served them well. Looking at different platforms you can see a vibrant variety of engaging content.
"We used lockdown as an opportunity and gift to learn as much as we can, and apply what we learnt. I started on Tik Tok and talked about my business on this forum. We established a sound media presence and built up a solid following."
She takes the time to message all her followers personally, and get to know them all. "I communicate with all my followers through DMs, emails and comments. But I try to make a connection on a personal level. They give me inspiration so creating content has become a collaborative process."
"We now sell all over the world. It shows there was a gap in the market if people are willing to buy from someone in New Zealand."
"I also think Kiwis are great at coming together and telling inspiring stories," Veronika says.
If you know someone who goes that extra mile to support and shape a better future for their communities, nominate them here and they could be a winner of a brand new Dell XPS 13 laptop.
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