Being avid gym rats, we are SO excited to feature this week's mega #HerHustle interviewee, Lorna Jane. Lorna started her wildly successful line of activewear in the 1980's, after she sewed her first workout top while working as a fitness instructor in Brisbane, Australia. Since then, Lorna Jane activewear has blown up - they sell more women's activewear in Australia than lululemon, Nike, adidas, and Reebok combined!
What inspired you to start Lorna Jane?
Honestly, starting an Activewear business and building a brand was not part of my plan. I was just an Aerobics instructor that couldn’t find workout clothes that I actually liked - so I started making my own. Back then (we’re talking mid ‘80’s!) gym clothes weren’t stylish, were generally unflattering and the selection available for women was limited. So, when the women in my classes saw what I was wearing they naturally wanted to place orders for this ‘Activewear’ just like mine!
Activewear was something they had never seen before – workout clothes that they could wear for gym, yoga, AND running. As well as something that they felt comfortable enough to wear in their everyday busy lives. I was creating something that actually got women excited about working out - and this is what inspired me to quit my full-time job and consider developing this category further – little did I know that it was to become a world-wide phenomenon and change the way women dress and prioritize their health and fitness in our world today.
"I find that leaving a little time between meetings allows for spontaneity and a little space for unexpected things that may come up."
What does your typical day look like?
I’m naturally an early riser so I wake around 5:30am. I do about 10 minutes of meditation, before I blend up my morning smoothie and then I either do a strength session with my trainer, a yoga class or some stretching at home. Then it’s out for a morning walk, with my dog Roger and husband Bill.
When we get back home, I go through a few emails over breakfast before getting ready to head into work.
My work days vary and can be anything from meetings with my team, working on design or creative concepts, fitting our next collection, researching, shoots, writing or planning. Even though there’s always plenty to do, I try not to over book myself with back to back meetings. I find that leaving a little time between meetings allows for a little spontaneity and a little space for unexpected things that may come up. It also means that I don’t feel rushed to make decisions and it gives me some extra time to play with Roger!
Even if work is hectic, Bill and I try to leave the office at a reasonable time so we can spend some time outside before the sun goes down. We walk Roger and catch up on everything that happened during the day, bounce ideas off each other or discuss any pressing issues. Our afternoon walk is one of my favorite parts of the day, and I can literally feel any tension from my day just slip away.
We’re both starving when we get home, so dinner needs to be quick and easy (usually some veggies with a lean protein) and I never skip on dessert!
After dinner, there can be a few more (international) emails and then I relax with some reading or Netflix. Then, a cup of tea or water with a few drops of lavender oil and off to bed ready to do it all again tomorrow!
Congratulations on expanding to Canada! What are the main differences you find between the Australian vs. North American market?
Well the obvious difference is the climate! But other than that I think Australians are very similar to Canadians - we both have a love of the outdoors, are interested in being active and value the importance of health and fitness. We have had Canadian customers shopping our brand online and in Australia for so long now, that we just couldn’t wait to bring Lorna Jane to Canada. We are so excited to be here and are looking forward to developing a deeper connection with our Canadian community.
"True success is not about material things - it's about fulfillment and happiness and making a difference."
What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“You’re crazy – don’t do it”. Which is something I heard quite often in the early days of building my brand and my business. I can look back now and understand why people were scared for me – there was no Activewear category and women were only just starting to actually ‘care’ about what they wore to the gym – so I absolutely ‘get’ why everyone didn’t want me to risk everything to pursue this. But I’m so glad that my drive and passion and belief in myself was strong enough to want to build Lorna Jane, create this new category and prove them wrong!
What does success mean to you?
Success is different for everyone. But for most of us, true success is not about material things - It’s about fulfilment and happiness and making a difference.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
In moments of doubt I just give myself a good old-fashioned pep talk. I remind myself of the bigger picture and re-assure myself that I know what I’m doing. I also weigh up the risk factors and get comfortable with the worst possible outcome whilst striving for the best.
When it comes to adversity I understand that life has to have light and shade, and when I’m going through a difficult time I just concentrate on what I can do to makes things better and get into the light again. I am naturally a glass half full type of girl so I am inclined to be optimistic and positive even in the toughest of times and I love that I can call on that to get me through.
Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
I’m all about my rituals because I truly believe that it’s what you do every day that sets you up for success in business and in life. My mornings start with a big glass of water, followed by about 10-15 minutes of meditation, a morning workout and then a healthy breakfast.
Evenings tend to vary depending on my commitments at work but I always find time for an afternoon/evening walk with my husband Bill and our dog Roger. This ritual is perfect for Bill and I to talk about our day (away from technology) and start to relax and unwind in preparation for our evening together.
If you liked this interview, you might like our recent interview with Alyssa Bertram, founder of easy.