Words of Wisdom With WWE Diva Celeste Bonin
I had the pleasure to interview Celeste Bonin. Celeste is an outspoken WWE Diva turned athleisure designer to empower women. An outspoken, passionate realist, Bonin represents strong bold women all over the world through her creativity and designs. Meant to be universal; her outfits can be worn at the gym or on the couch. The real purpose is to feel comfortable and confident. Growing up as your “not-so-average” girl, Bonin was always into boyish activities, especially sports. Although you wouldn’t find Bonin on the stage giving a valedictorian speech, her attitude is to work hard — play harder; success isn’t on a piece of paper and that path there isn’t linear. Her childhood wasn’t easy; with battles and roadblocks along the way, Bonin was taught early the meaning of giving it your all to succeed no matter the obstacles. Taking a risk and knowing it could result in failure, Bonin packed up her entire life and moved to Tampa to pursue the WWE. Chosen as a last-minute replacement for an elimination TV show for WWE, Bonin had two days to get it together and make a name for herself. With no persona, money or outfit — Bonin made it happen. Celestial Bodiez launched in 2014 after designing dozens of prototypes until finding something that she felt worked. She was inspired by one of her former WWE outfits to include the now signature ‘booty scrunch,’ curve-hugging seam concept. She also likes to write and vlog about her life, desires, and self-reflection; doing so helps others, and that is what she strives for. Bonin also enjoys giving back to the community. Youth sports are important to her because they were a distraction, which kept her away from trouble and taught her values. In addition, she provides scholarships for women battling addiction since she herself overcame it. Bonin has been a video game character and on the cover of Ironman Magazine twice. This badass chick made it all happen for herself. As Celestial Bodiez continues to grow so do her goals. If her past is any indication, the best is yet to come.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
My name is Celeste. I am an entrepreneur, a former pro wrestler and adorably (and some times obnoxiously) rough around the edges. I am the founder and CEO of Celestial Bodiez.
I passed up a college Soccer scholarship to stay home and help with a family situation and go to college local community college. At age 23 I was given the once in a lifetime opportunity to try out for the WWE. I got signed and never looked back. So basically, I got my education in the school of hard knocks (and body slams)
I ended up debuting on live TV within the first few weeks of being with WWE. It was on a reality based elimination show called NXT. I, somehow, ended up winning that elimination show and earned my spot on the main roster of SMACKDOWN. I fought tooth and nail to prove myself and to get the opportunity to be in story lines and on television regularly. I ended up wrestling for WWE for four years and managed to climb to the top of the Diva’s division, as champion.
After a roller coaster and also hugely successful career with WWE, I decided to retire in 2014. “Retire”. My plan was to get married and start a business. Starting a business was the best decision I ever made. The marriage part…not so much.
I started a women’s fitness apparel company called Celestial Bodiez. My company is known for #Bootyscrunch. It’s a patented “rouching” sewn into the bum of my leggings. It’s lifts and shapes your booty. The idea was conceived during my WWE days. I would have the ruching sewn into my wrestling outfits.
I’ve been thriving for almost 4 years as an entrepreneur and CEO. After a pivotal 2017, I stepped up my game and started to really take charge of my life and the growth of my company.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
For 2 months, I ran my business out of an employee’s town house after losing 80% of my employees and (to make it way more dramatic) I was concurrently sleeping on my mom’s couch. I was fighting for complete ownership of my company during my shit-storm divorce. Being forced to improvise, restructure and then rebuild my company under tremendous stress gave me confidence in myself as a leader. Some may call it rock bottom but I look back at it as some of my proudest moments.
So what exactly does your company do?
We sell the best damn leggings (and other active wear) on the market. Celestial Bodiez is an online direct to consumer business. I personally design each piece with the everyday woman in mind. We make clothes for life. Look good, feel good, always be ready.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The story of Celestial Bodiez is what makes us special. It was built with passion and grit. We are not a faceless brand. I am the Celeste in Celestial Bodiez. It is my mission to continue to be real, relatable and grateful to all of our customers.
We will continue to build a culture that is welcoming and empowering.
The original concept of the “scrunch” came from one of the seamstresses that traveled with WWE. She sewed it into one of my wrestling outfits to make it more flattering. I thought it was the most ingenious thing ever. Now that I’ve established the Bootyscrunch design, I’m more inspired by the feel of garments. Like literally the feel but ALSO the feeeeeeel of it. “How does it make you feel?” type of thing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
As much as I hate to admit it, I owe a lot to my Ex Husband. (I just threw up I my mouth). Seriously though, I learned so much from watching him grow his business and from his mistakes. Emphasis on mistakes. I was able to learn what it takes to be a CEO and to decide what type of leader I wanted to be.
I am also very grateful to the new Celestial Bodiez A-Team I assembled in late 2017. I brought on a new marketing officer, a strategy officer, a new head of operations, a marketing team, a PR team and a social media manager. Balls out. We’re changing the game In 2018.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My career in the WWE gave me the opportunity to build a giant social following across the globe. I feel like it is my responsibility to use my platform to share my experiences, struggles, successes and knowledge with others. I have recently opened up about my divorce, struggle with addiction, the stress of becoming a young executive with a lack of a formal education and experience in the business world. We are all this together.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. People will always remember how you made them feel. Your employees will work harder and with more enthusiasm and love for what they do when they feel appreciated and valued.
2. There is no separation between work and “life”. It’s all one big beautiful mess. A good kind of mess. Love what you do and you will be content. Unfortunately, not everyone in your life will understand that. I’ve learned that I’m drawn to people with a similar mind set. It makes things a lot easier when you don’t have explain WHY you’re working until midnight or on your phone or skipping some weekend plans.
3. Trust your gut. It never lies. Second guessing yourself is the cock blocker of success.
4. Learn how to say NO. Saying NO to certain things and not feeling bad or guilty about it allows you to set a standard, prevents people from walking all over you and sets bounderies Personally, and professionally. Do you, boo!
5. The Job is never done.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
I’d like to eat waffles with Sophia Amoruso. Sounds like some kind of euphemism, right? Haha. She’s the real MVP. A Girl Boss in every sense of the word.