Chief Creative Officer + Founder / Lorna Jane Active Wear
If there is a message that you need in your life right now, it’s this one… “LOVE YOU”.
It’s not the easiest thing to do, believe me. There have been plenty of times in my life where I didn’t see the beauty in myself and that is why today’s #careerstory is so important.
Beautifully coined by the world’s Queen of Active wear, Lorna Jane Clarkson, “LOVE YOU” is the fifth book written by this incredibly gifted woman, and arguably her finest work to date.
Now we could go on, and on, telling you all the things that you know and love about Lorna Jane Clarkson. Like how she built her activewear empire, how she went from fitness instructor to self-made entrepreneur, author and all-round #girlboss – but you can just google her name to find out those answers.
Today we go deeper.
We find out where she went to school, what her favourite subjects were, and what her advice is for any student wanting to start their next BIG THING. Today also marks a personal dream coming true. Lorna, thank you for following your gut and paving the way for babes just like us.
Let’s dive in…
Hi Lorna, thank you for making my dream come true. Can you tell us where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are and the career that you are in today?
I was actually born in England and lived there until I was 10 years old before my mum, my sister and I moved to Australia. I instantly became obsessed with the lifestyle here and the warmer weather so I spent most of my time outside riding my bike, swimming or running around with my sister. I really think that is what sparked my passion for health and fitness and a love for the outdoors.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to high school in Brisbane and I guess you could say it was a pretty standard experience. My love for fashion and fitness was always there but it didn’t take off until I left school and started experiencing more of what the world had to offer.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
I always knew I had a love for fashion and design so it was never really something I had to learn. I was top of my class in art but I guess the most defining moment of my high schooling was joining the cheerleading team and attending every sporting event possible! The energy of these events and the added bonus of being active (but not competing) was the biggest draw card for me and I guess ultimately lead me to pursuing this lifestyle dedicated to health and fitness and Active Living.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
Those types of opportunities were never really an option for me while I was going through school. The closest I came to this was crocheting bikini’s for all of my friends on the weekends – I guess you could call that work experience!
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I’ve never really been one to do things by the book so attending University was never really top of my list of things to do. Once I realised how strongly people were connecting to my designs I completely bypassed any form of secondary education, taught myself how to sew and set about making my dream a reality. I did eventually do some Design courses at TAFE but only the subjects that I felt I needed a little more knowledge in.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
Right after high school, with a little push from my mum, I became a dental therapist. At this age I was pretty lost as to what I wanted to do with my life but I knew I had a love for fashion and this seemed like as good a career as any to help finance this passion. I had also become completely caught up in the Aerobics craze so I set about completing my Aerobic Instructor Training certificate and began teaching classes after work and on the weekends. Little did I know that my love for fashion and my love for health and fitness would ultimately combine and become ‘Lorna Jane”.
How did you launch Lorna Jane?
I never really planned to launch Lorna Jane as a fashion active brand. Being an Aerobics Instructor I was constantly in Activewear and back then there was very little to choose from. So, one day I picked apart my favourite swimsuit, made a pattern and set about creating my own pieces in designs and colours I actually wanted to wear! What started as me just creating pieces for myself to wear, turned into a thriving business when the women in my classes asked me to make active wear for them too! Just a few months later I was quitting my full-time job as a Dental Therapist and teaching classes and designing active wear full-time. Fast forward 28 years and I now have a global business with over 250 Lorna Jane concept stores worldwide and have been credited for redefining how women think about their active wear.
What is the hardest part of your current role at Lorna Jane?
Balancing everything! Although I work with my husband, Bill and our dog Roger comes with us to the office every day it’s hard to find the right balance every day of every week. I purposely make time for my work, my husband, myself and of course Roger every day but some days are harder or busier than others so you have to continuously work at it. Work life balance is about making good choices every single day based on your priorities so it’s essential that you always prioritise yourself and your health and your happiness first.
What does a typical business day look like for you at Lorna Jane?
It may sound cliché but it is pretty safe to say no two days are ever the same. From sitting in on fits, marketing meetings or jetting off to LA to oversee our international offices, every day brings its own unique challenges and opportunities. I guess you could say that the one constant amongst it all is that every day is a busy day – and that’s exactly how I like it!
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I have never really had one set hero throughout my life. I am constantly inspired by the many strong and successful women that I surround myself with from family and friends, leaders like Michelle Obama and my customers who challenge themselves to be better every day, I guess it’s safe to say that there is no shortage of inspiration in my life.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
The advice I would give to any girls, regardless of their career choice would be to; Do what you love, know that it will take everything, and to never, never, never give up! Because I truly believe that if you have a passion and believe in yourself anything really is possible.
What are your ‘go-to’ resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration?
- Favourite Websites: Move Nourish Believe of course!
- Instagram Account: lornajane.com because I love hearing what our customers have to say.
- Favourite Podcast: Right now would have to be The Mentor with Mark Bouris as I just wrapped up a podcast with Mark while I was down in Sydney and have been listening to them ever since.
- Favourite Netflix Series: Would have to be Suits or House of Cards
- Favourite all time book/s: 100 Great Businesses and the minds behind them: by Emily Ross and Angus Holland. I love this book because it gives you an insight into the people behind the great businesses of today, their trials and their triumphs. From Microsoft to Cirque du Soleil you will be inspired to be original, overcome hurdles and follow your dreams. Little things make a big difference: by Lauren Sydney. Little things DO make a difference and this pocket-size book is filled with a wealth of remarkably effective ideas for making a big difference in other people’s lives with simple yet meaningful gestures. I found this book on an overseas trip and have kept it close to my side ever since.
- People: My family, my friends, my husband, my team and my customers.
- Exercise: yoga, hiking and weight training
- Ways to relax: walking on the beach, reading, restorative yoga and meditation
- Food: Anything with Chocolate
- Favourite place: Home