Exclusive interview: Kaitlyn on her Iron Man Magazine cover and being her own boss
She was once known as The Hybrid Diva — a striking combination of beauty and powerhouse strength that was just as likely to sizzle in a WWE.com photo shoot as she was to knock the highlights out of an opponent’s hair. These days, Kaitlyn (now Celeste Braun) goes by another moniker entirely: CEO. Yet, “hybrid” fits just as well now as it did then. As a fitness personality, fashion trailblazer, marketer and Chief Executive Officer of Celestial Bodiez, her innovative sportswear company, Kaitlyn’s resume has more slashes than a Wes Craven flick. And she’s just getting started.
Nearly one year after appearing on the cover of Iron Man Magazine alongside her husband, Blackstone Labs and Prime Nutrition President PJ Braun, Kaitlyn returns to the publication on her own with a slick photo shoot that shows off her chiseled physique, along with that same personality the WWE Universe fell in love with when she debuted in WWE NXT back in 2010.
Kaitlyn recently spoke with WWE.com about appearing on the cover of April’s Iron Man Magazine, the growth of her business and witnessing the transformation of longtime friend Big E from silent enforcer to booty-shaking unicorn.
WWE.COM: What does it mean for you to appear on the cover of the April issue of Iron Man Magazine?
KAITLYN: It’s totally surreal. In every part of my life, I feel like I’ve had a lot of very successful moments. From being with WWE and winning the Divas Title, all of that stuff. I This particular moment is different and a little more meaningful for me. When I left WWE I was terrified, because I was walking away from an amazing career on TV and taking this leap of faith in my personal life. I was leaving my career behind and trusting that my husband was going to help me build this business I was dreaming of.
You know what I just realized? My photo shoot for this cover was on Jan. 8, which was the day that I left WWE. And so much has happened in those two years. It was really tough the first year after leaving the company; I was trying to make a name for myself in this fitness industry and in the clothing industry. Two years later, I find myself getting to be on the cover of a magazine because I’ve become somebody in the fitness industry and the clothing industry. I’ve built this new path and new career, which is in a completely direction from the career that I walked away from. It was a cool realization for me that I’ve made it. This is what I’ve been striving for.
WWE.COM: You last spoke with WWE.com last spring. How has Celestial Bodiez evolved since then?
When I see someone who’s in shape, I know they’re disciplined and they work hard. They want it.
KAITLYN: A year ago, the company was so much different. I was still working from home. I was basically running my entire company out of two spare bedrooms in our house. I would do all of the social media and marketing by myself. And I was dealing with a manufacturer who was the main reason my company wasn’t growing at the speed it should have been growing. Now, fast-forward a year later. I have my own office, I have my own giant warehouse space, I have two employees, I have an incredible product. We found these amazing manufacturers shortly after our last interview, and we put out a new revamped line last July. Since then, Celestial Bodiez has skyrocketed.
WWE.COM: What’s your day-to-day life like now?
KAITLYN: My focus is always 100 percent on Celestial Bodiez. But my husband has ownership in at least eight other companies. I’ve learned a lot from him. The hardest thing you can do as a business owner is when you go from doing everything yourself to being able to delegate work to people, and trust that they’re going to do as good a job as you’ve done. I have someone that does my inventory management and shipping, and I have another girl who does my customer service and handles a lot of my athletes.
Up until two months ago, I was still shipping every single package and answering every customer service email. I was only doing the stuff that had to be done, but not utilizing my strengths in marketing and getting my personality out there. Now that I have people helping to run the company on a daily basis, I’ve become so much more focused on marketing. I’ve always done social media marketing, but now we’re doing much more in-depth styles of campaigns on social media. And the growth has been so amazing.
WWE.COM: Not only are you the CEO of Celestial Bodiez, you’re also the face of the company. How do you balance between running a successful company and keeping yourself in peak physical condition?
KAITLYN: I’m my own brand. Literally — the company is named after me! So every day, I have to look the part. People want to believe in you, they want to follow you and they want to be like you, but you have to walk the walk. I can’t sell the most amazing-fitting leggings on the market and not look good in then. It’s so important that I maintain my look and my brand. Part of the “Booty Scrunch” movement is being confident with yourself and loving the way you look — and feeling good when you go to the gym wearing our clothes.
I have my own personal style and I carry myself a certain way ...
PJ and I are both very busy business owners. And sometimes we don’t have any time together because our faces are in our computers or on our phones. Every day, we make time in the morning to do cardio together at our house. We go to work in the same warehouse, but we don’t really see each other that much, so when we come home we go to the gym. It’s so important for us to show people that no matter how busy you are, you always have time for you and whatever your goal is. That is the No. 1 representation of yourself. When I see someone who’s in shape, I know they’re disciplined and they work hard. They want it. They have their life together. So that’s all a part of it.
WWE.COM: And that discipline also lands you on magazine covers. What can you tell us about the shoot?
KAITLYN: We did a two-day shoot. It was super-fun, but extremely exhausting. The first day, we had this really cool industrial workout space, and I brought glamorous stuff, sporty stuff, Celestial Bodiez stuff and lingerie, so we kind of did every look possible. I have my own personal style and I carry myself a certain way — I guess you could say I’m a tomboy. I’m not too much of a “girly girl,” and I love for all that stuff to be represented in photos of me. A lot of the looks are badass. I did a ton of really cool looks in my own line, and a lot of it is the new stuff that we’re launching in the coming months. It’s just a cool, classy and sexy shoot.
WWE.COM: What was your favorite thing you got to wear during the shoot?
KAITLYN: Here’s a cool story. When I was Divas Champion, Triple H and [another WWE executive] basically, in the nicest way possible, told me I wasn’t dressing myself the way I should and that they were going to take me shopping, get me some new looks and get some custom gear made. They really believed in me. So, for a few weeks in a row, I got to go to New York, and I had meetings with Stephanie [McMahon] and Hunter in Stamford at WWE Headquarters. They wanted me to be ready for any opportunity that was thrown at me.
I’m a bigger, more muscular girl, and back then, I guess I just didn’t really know how to dress myself. So, I think that was a goal to feel more comfortable and know what looks good on me. WWE found me this incredible seamstress who — and I’m not making this up — was one of Beyoncé’s seamstresses. It was the coolest thing! I had four or five meetings with her, and she made me this incredible gear: two or three outfits and this sick jacket. It was everything I could have ever wanted.
Once that was made, she sent it to me and I was so grateful. Then I lost the Divas Title and — I think this is kind of well-known now — but during the last few months I was with WWE, I had a lot of weight gain. I had a lot of health issues and a thyroid issue, so I wasn’t on TV. Long story short … I never got to wear any of the outfits.
So fast-forward two years, I got to do this incredible Iron Man Magazine shoot, and I got to wear the jacket. It was really cool for me to wear it, and it was such an awesome thing that WWE did for me. I loved the jacket so much. I knew I would probably never get to wear the wrestling gear, but I got to wear it for the shoot, and it’s super-meaningful for me.
WWE.COM: You mean you don’t wear the gear around the house?
KAITLYN: Actually yes, you got me.
WWE.COM: Speaking of your WWE days, you recently appeared on UpUpDownDown to show off your Sonic the Hedgehog 3 skills. What are those backstage visits like for you now, especially considering the success you’ve found in your post-WWE career?
KAITLYN: When I left, I was on really good terms with everybody. I have a few friends who I’m still really close with. When I go there, it’s nothing but happiness. It feels good to come back and say I had an amazing career here. It’s part of why I am who I am, but I took everything I learned in my life here, and I turned it into something else, doing it on my own.
It was so much fun being on UpUpDownDown, because every time I go back there, it’s like nothing has changed. I still act like an idiot with my friends. It’s no secret that Big E and I are close friends. We have a joke that I’m the female version of him and vice versa.
Actually, when Raw was in Miami, they had a pay-per-view the night before, and E was traveling alone on that loop — the guys that he normally travels with were sleeping at home. He was in Boca, his hotel was 10 minutes from my house,so I picked him up and took him to the gym. We did a little reunion video on Instagram, and then I took him to our store, Boca Nutrition, which is right by the gym, and I hooked him up with all of our supplements. I took him home so he could go down to Raw, and I met up with him later to be on the show. The room we did it in was so hot. It was a death trap sauna. We were dripping sweat, which was both gross and hilarious.
WWE.COM: You mentioned Instagram, which brings to mind your classic videos with Big E. Those were pretty much our first glimpse at his playful side. What’s it like for you to see him take the Big E that you know and turn up the volume on TV?
KAITLYN: I’m his biggest fan. We joke about it all the time. When he debuted, he was an emotionless bodyguard. I don’t want to take any credit for this, but — and he and I have talked about this before,when we were traveling together — he really came out of his shell. And it started translating into videos and all that stuff. We joke that it all started there. Now he gets to really be himself on TV. Someone who’s that hilarious should have every right to be that person on TV. I’m so happy for him.
WWE.COM: As a unicorn aficionado, you’re the perfect New Day fan, anyway.
KAITLYN: Yes, I am, actually. As we’re speaking, I have a white unicorn head mounted in my office. When we moved into this warehouse and I was buying stuff for the new office, the first two things I bought were mounted, stuffed unicorn heads. I have one in the shipping area, and one in the office.
WWE.COM: After your last visit backstage, we’ve seen several of the Divas rocking your Celestial Bodiez gear. Is that like worlds colliding for you?
KAITLYN: It makes me feel good that the other women can show support for each other. Brie Bella has posted Celestial Bodiez a few times. She has millions of followers, and it’s so incredible of her to do that. And she used the hashtag #DivaLove. I started using that when I was reposting the other girls wearing my stuff, like Nattie, Naomi and Maryse. It makes me proud, because it’s girls showing other girls love — supporting each other as businesswomen. So it makes me really happy, and of course they know they can rock whatever they want, and I’ll send it to them. It makes me proud.
WWE.COM: Do you think we’ll ever see Big E in some Celestial Bodiez Booty Scrunch leggings?
KAITLYN: Short answer? Absolutely! Here’s why. We are currently in the process of producing a men’s line. My seamstress is creating the first samples, and my goal is to have it released in the early fall, but it would be nice for summer. It’s a long process. We’re developing the best possible pattern to get the perfect fit. The issue that we’re running into is whether we want to put in the Booty Scrunch or not. We’re thinking no, but we might make some available with the scrunch. And if we do, E is wearing those. He has no say in it.
WWE.COM: Are you going to hold him to that?
KAITLYN: Please, look at what he wears on television! He wears the tiniest, tight singlets. There’s no way he wouldn’t wear these.
Check out Kaitlyn in the April issue of Iron Man Magazine. For the latest updates from the former Divas Champion, follow her on Twitter and Instagram. For more on Celestial Bodiez, visit the official website by clicking here.