We chat to Lorna Jane, creator and owner of Lorna Jane Activewear.
Why did you start designing Activewear?
I started designing Activewear because I wanted to change the way women thought about being active. My idea was to design something that she could wear from morning to night, so that instead of being active for just one hour a day she would become more active in her everyday life.
I called it ‘Activewear’ because I just wanted her to put it on and be active. In the beginning it was just about creating Activewear but over the years it has evolved to be so much more than that. Lorna Jane is about changing the way we live by wearing Activewear, it’s about empowering women and it’s about having a positive impact on the world through active living and the daily practice of move, nourish and believe.
Win $500 worth of Lorna Jane Activewear
At Lorna Jane our mission is to empower women to live a life that they love through Active Living and the daily practice of Move, Nourish, Believe. We are driven to design the best Activewear because we want to change the way women live and we know when they wear Lorna Jane it transforms the way they think, but more importantly how they feel about being active.Start 2020 strong with the ultimate fit kit, enter for your chance to win at lornajane.nz/verve
Take us back to the beginning. What did it look like and how did you build Lorna Jane and the Activewear into what it is today?
I was a fitness instructor teaching five to six classes a day and running around in between classes trying to do all those ‘life things’ you have to get done. I realised that running my errands in workout clothes made it so much easier to get things done than when I was wearing regular clothes and I didn’t have to waste time getting dressed and undressed after every workout!
The only downside was that it was back in the late ’80s, so I was running around town in a G-string leotard and fluro tights and getting a little more attention than I wanted! So I decided to try my hand at designing and making something that I could workout in, but would also work well in my everyday life.
At the time I was sharing a house with a girlfriend that was a home economics teacher, so she gave me a quick lesson on how to use a sewing machine. I bought some Lycra and started to construct the first ever piece of Activewear!
At the time my intention was to just make this Activewear for myself but the women in my classes had other ideas, and before I knew it, I was sewing every night, on the weekends and spending endless hours shopping for Lycra! The demand was incredible. I remember about three months in standing in front of one of my classes and realising that absolutely every woman was wearing Lorna Jane! It wasn’t long after that that I quit my day job and took that great big leap of faith to start designing Activewear full time.
In the beginning I was just working from home, then I opened a small design studio and showroom in one of the bigger gyms I was teaching at. I would also take a rack of my latest designs to every class I taught, to promote and sell my products to the women that took my classes all over Brisbane.
After about two years my husband Bill came onboard and we opened our first retail store, and it just snowballed from there! One store quickly became five, became 10 and today we have over 170 stores worldwide, and an online business that goes from strength to strength every year. We have created a brand that actually changes the way women think about being active and a community of women that inspire and support each other to embrace active living.
When you were building Lorna Jane was there a defining moment when you knew you were on to something?
There was one was pretty early in my career. I was entering fashion awards and because the activewear category wasn’t recognised yet I was entering Active pieces in the lifestyle, resort and swimwear categories – and actually winning! But the defining moment here was when the organisers rang me to tell me that they were going to create an activewear category because of the demand I had created, which gave me so much encouragement to keep going with my ambitions for Activewear. But the defining moment that stands out the most was the day a woman came into our store – and bought absolutely everything that we had!
We had been in business for about two years with one retail store in Brisbane and my husband Bill, who was working in the store that day, came home with his pockets literally full of money! Of course, we celebrated, and then realised we’d have to restock the whole shop! But as I was madly cutting and sewing so that we could re-open, I remember thinking to myself, ‘If one woman can buy absolutely everything in the store then we really must be on to something!’ It’s amazing how these defining moments can boost your confidence and give you the energy and belief in yourselves to keep going.
So, tell us about Active Living?
I practice our brand philosophy of Active Living every day without fail and I can honestly say that it has transformed my life! It’s based around the daily practice of Move, Nourish, Believe and every day I make sure I move my body with regular exercise, I nourish my mind and body with good food and I make sure that I go through the day with a positive (Believe) mindset. Making the daily commitment to these three pillars makes it easy to keep on track and have a healthy routine no matter how busy my life gets.
We’re all under a lot of pressure these days and as much as we’d like to think we can, we can’t do everything all of the time. So it’s about making sure that we’re prioritising the things we truly care about and living a life that we love, so the pressure is positive rather than overwhelming.
Your brand is known for encouraging women to be fearless. What does being fearless mean to you?
For me, being fearless is about doing what I know is right even when it scares me. It means standing up for who I am and what I believe in, even when it isn’t the popular view. It means being comfortable with stepping into uncomfortable moments because I know they will push my life forward. And it’s about following your heart even when people tell you you’re crazy.