There is not a better time to discover a fashionable line of athletic wear than right after the New Year. Those resolutions get our butts to the gym and we want those butts (and the rest of us) to look good! A friend of mine from my Chicago days introduced me to this fabulous and fashion forward rather new line of activewear called Actio926. I immediately took a liking to the founder and designer Stephanie Radkay (she loves Tim Gunn too!) who launched the line in 2012. Her story is very inspirational and very on target for the new year. Find out why in the interview below.
FO30: How did you come to start designing your own line of athletic wear? What’s the story and why athletic wear?
I received a birthday gift from my college roommate in September 2011 which was odd since we don’t exchange gifts anymore. When I opened the card it said, “Steph, when I think of you I think of fitness and fashion. Hope you like these gifts.” I opened up the first gift and it was Tim Gunn’s book. She had gone to his book signing and had him sign it for me! I fell to the ground in my living room in a puddle of tears. She knew me so well….my mom had already been gone for 11 years and it was not often that someone could connect with me on that level.
The second gift was a big, cool gym bag. I could hardly handle the emotion this card and gifts brought up for me. You may think it was not a big deal…so what? A book, a bag and a card. But, when it resonates on a level of your soul and speaks to you so loudly, you get it. At that moment the light bulb lit up so brightly and I decided to start my own line. Since I had never designed anything in my life except for a pair of knickers in high school sewing class you can imagine the task was somewhat daunting.
I tapped into my trading persona – the one that encouraged me to be one of five women yelling and screaming with 600 men in the S&P 500 pit. This persona has no fear. Nothing stops me when I tap in. I figured all I needed was someone to help guide me…someone who had been down this road before, someone who didn’t want to do it again, but was willing to share trade secrets. It took two phone calls to find this person. And, for the most part that’s how this company continues to unfold. It’s one or two phone calls. It continues to show me that when you are in your soul’s purpose things unfold rather karmically. That is not to say everything is easy and stress-free. But the enjoyment is so high and the sky has no limit when you are in this space. I am navigating these waters with excitement and passion and that’s what you need to move your goals and purpose forward. That’s what 926 means.
FO30: I know your mother influenced your decision to design. Did you know she had these ambitions when growing up?
SR: My mother was an uber creative person. She was an art major in college. As her child I saw her as a beautiful person. She glowed on the inside and the outside. This woman did not have a mean bone in her body, but she was complicated. Like a complicated impressionist painter. She was very private and it came as no surprise when I was cleaning out her things after she had passed that I came upon tons of artwork underneath the staircase. It was devastating to me to find this beautiful collection that no one was ever privy to for years and years. The drawings, watercolors, paintings, charcoals were all stunning – an extension of her soul. And, many of them had grades and comments on them from her college professors. All exceptional grades. It was so sad to find these treasures. I thought this creative mind of hers was stuffed underneath a staircase. In my opinion I have channeled some of her talent and paired it with my tenacity to build Actio926. I feel she is by my side and we are doing this together. Some of her designs are on the front page of the Actio website (actio926.com).
FO30: You lived in Chicago and relocated to LA. What made you decide to leave Chicago? Besides the weather…obviously.
SR: When my mom passed away our family sort of fell apart. My dad went one way, my sister another. Our friends were all having children and moving to the suburbs. My husband Mike and I found ourselves in the city with a quiet social life, bored with running indoors at the East Bank Club (a Chicago gym) nine months of the year. The trading industry was migrating to the computer and although I had been out of the industry for quite a while Mike was still trading and realized he could do it anywhere online. We decided on LA by way of a Giants/Dodgers game. I was between jobs and we decided to take a trip. We went online to see if there were any ball games that seemed interesting and we came up with the Giants/Dodgers game in LA. I grew up coming out to LA since I had family here and we hadn’t been out here in 10 years so we decided to go. We had a fantasic time at the Beverly Hills Hotel with our cousins. When we came back to Chicago we put our home up for sale after 40+ in Chicago we left and have not looked back.
FO30: Where would you like to see Actio926 in 5 years? What are your goals for the company?
SR: Actio926 will stand on its own. I will be working full time on it without the need for any other income stream. It will be a household name and be worn by women across the nation and starting to trickle overseas. I will be speaking to groups of women to encourage and inspire them to get active, stay active and connect to their own unique gifts and purpose. Mike and I will be hiring staff. We are excited to be able to give the gift of employment. Actio’s workplace will be a top-rated small company to work for where the environment is conducive to creativity and a place that people go to work where employees feel supported and can enjoy the ride. The customer service will be top notch.
FO30: Where do you get your design inspiration from today?
SR: I have so much bottled up in my head and it comes out when I put pencil to paper. I love color so anything on my path that has color catches my eye like a bright shiny thing. I listen to customer’s needs to see what holes need to be filled. I was a math major so often you will see patterns and shapes from me.
FO30: What is the best advice anyone every gave you?
SR: Be patient. Trust the timing. This may seem obvious but when you really examine this and practice it, it’s another level of knowledge and power. I am at an age where I find elders interesting to listen to. They have gone before us and have the advantage of experience.
FO30: Any future plans or new releases you’d care to share?
SR: Since I am a runner, I always need new, fashionable clothing so you can count on me to continue designing new prints (the only time you will see another company carrying my prints is if they knock me off since they are originals). I am also moving into designing fashionable activewear for the plus size community. They need some cool, fun, flattering goodies, too, so watch out!
I told you Stephanie’s story was inspirational and motivating! Now get out there and make it happen!
Check out and shop Actio926 here!
-Lauren Dimet Waters