Lorna Jane is a cult Activewear label that has become a go-to for women across the globe, combining fashion with function and fitness. Alongside this, the brand sets out to inspire and encourage Active Living, a philosophy championed by founder Lorna Jane Clarkson. Zara Overton caught up with the trailblazer to find out how it all began and more about her passion for healthy living.
NEWMARKET. Have you always had an interest in health and fitness?
LORNA. Surprisingly no, I was more of an academic at school, choosing to sit in the library rather than do any kind of sport. The closest I got to doing anything remotely physical was cheerleading which was basically a ploy to get out of competitive sports but still have the day out of the classroom. Any real interest started in my late teens – and it goes without saying that I’ve been hooked ever since!
N. You identified a gap in the market early on for fashionable activewear and we’ve since seen this trend take off. Now Activewear is not only limited to the gym or sporting activities, but it is commonplace to wear it almost anywhere. How did the brand Lorna Jane come to be?
L. I’d love to say that I was entrepreneurial enough to identify a ‘gap in the market’ but the truth is that I simply discovered a love for health and fitness (through teaching aerobic classes) and decided to make my own Activewear because there was nothing currently in the market that looked remotely fashionable and ticked all of my personal boxes performance-wise. It was more about creating something I wanted for myself and then when the women in my classes wanted it too, I just started making it at home in my spare time. Essentially the market found me – but what I had was the vision and the conviction to follow through and make it what it is today.
N. Not only does Lorna Jane empower women with Activewear that makes them feel good, but
you have also set out to change the way people think about working out and healthy living, encouraging everyone to live by the philosophy of Active Living. Can you expand on this philosophy?
L. Active Living is the Lorna Jane philosophy for living a healthy life and it’s simply about finding ‘Active Moments’ throughout your day instead of having to find an extra hour to drop everything and workout. It’s the reason I started designing Activewear – because I believe when you wear Activewear it inspires you to be more active in your everyday life. I know from my personal experience that when I put on Activewear first thing in the morning and wear it all day I find more time to be active, and by the end of the day I’ve achieved so much more, have taken more steps and feel like I have more energy. This is what I want for all women – and why I work hard to create Activewear with the perfect balance between fashion and function so that women will want to wear it all day and be inspired to live a more active life.
N. What made you decide to open a store in Newmarket?
L. We knew that we wanted to open a store in Auckland, and with Newmarket being a well- established lifestyle centre we thought it would be the perfect location for Lorna Jane.
N. Along with running a global Activewear business, you’re an accomplished author, publishing 6 books centred around health, wellbeing and food. How do you maintain a work-life balance?
L. Honestly, I don’t really think about work-life balance until someone asks me! And I think it’s because I’m more focused on creating products that help our customers find balance. But my personal experience when it comes to ‘balance’ is that you always find time for the things that you love to do – no matter how busy or not-busy you are!
N. What does your role within the company look like now? Are you heavily involved with the creative process and design decisions?
L. My role is Chief Creative Officer so I’m still heavily involved in the design and marketing aspects of the business. I’m blessed to work with an incredible team of amazing women every day and basically my role is to ensure that what we create is on-brand, meeting our customers’ future needs and moving the business (and brand) forward.
N. Can you run us through what a typical day might look like for you?
L. I get up around 5.30am – workout, eat breakfast and head into work. Every day is different (which I love) but most days I find myself doing a mix of working on new styles with my designers, meeting on brand and marketing strategies, shooting campaigns, doing interviews and planning for the future. Around 5pm I leave work and go for a walk with my husband to unwind. Afterwards I eat a healthy dinner, relax with a movie or a good book, sometimes do a little yoga and then go to bed around 9pm … getting my 8hrs in so I’m refreshed and ready to do it all over again.
N. What is on your playlist right now?
L. I’m not the playlist type. I prefer Podcasts when I’m working out and right now I’m listening to Armchair Expert – by Dax Shepard, the Tim Ferris Show and Oprah Super Soul Sunday.
N. Who is your greatest inspiration?
L. My customers – they are the reason I strive to be and do better every day.
N. Do you have a favourite Lorna Jane piece? If so, what is it?
L. It can change on the daily – but right now my favourite piece would have to be The Amy Winter Thermal Phone Pocket Legging. It’s basically a legging that looks like any other Lorna Jane legging but has the added benefit of a thermal lining that traps body heat against your skin to keep you warm. They are life changing when it comes to keeping warm in winter and I have at least 3 pairs because I just don’t want to wear anything else now that the weather has started to cool.
N. Favourite type of exercise?
L. I like variety when it comes to exercise so enjoy a mix of strength training, yoga and hiking.
N. The past year of COVID and lockdowns has been tough for many, and mental health has been put to the test. What are some of your top tips for managing your mental health and stress?
L. I’m no expert when it comes to managing stress but a few simple things I do to reduce stress are:
◆ I check my diary for the following day before I leave work – so I can do any necessary prep ahead of time and feel more relaxed for the evening ahead.
◆ I practise 10-15 minutes of meditation every morning to settle my mind and bring focus to what I want to achieve for the day ahead.
◆ I commit to working out every day, no excuses
– even if it’s just some stretching or walking my dog, Roger.
◆ I take care of myself – eat well, keep caffeine to a minimum, drink plenty of water and make sure I get enough sleep.
N. What is the biggest challenge you have faced building your brand and running the business?
L. In business there are constant challenges. But I’d have to say that the biggest challenge I’ve faced would have to have been at the very beginning of the Lorna Jane journey when I was trying to convince everyone that ‘Activewear’ was ‘the next big thing’ and they could wear it in their everyday lives (and not just for working out!).
N . Your brand and what it stands for empowers and inspires women across the world. What is one piece of advice that you would give to young women who are starting out in their careers?
L. Believe in yourself and what you want to achieve – because if you don’t believe in yourself and your dreams then it’s going to be near impossible to get other people to believe in them too.
www.lornajane.nz | Westfield Newmarket