Lorna Jane Clarkson is an Active Living philosopher and the Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Lorna Jane. It is her innovative and creative spirit that has seen the Lorna Jane brand become a multi-million dollar business in just over two decades and what began as a desire to create fashionable and fit activewear has turned into a brand that inspires women to not only MOVE their bodies every day, but NOURISH themselves from the inside and BELIEVE in themselves and their ability to achieve great things.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I was encouraged from a very early age to always believe in myself and strive to be and do better in life. I was taught to follow my dreams and to work hard to make things happen. This has affected just about every area of my life, including the way that I run my business. I think that as a leader in business it is important to encourage and mentor the future leaders on your team. Only then is it possible build something that has an impact on people's lives both inside and outside of your organization.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Lorna Jane Activewear?
Prior to founding Lorna Jane, I was in my early twenties working full-time as a dental therapist and teaching fitness classes at night. I wasn't unhappy in these roles, but I always had a nagging feeling that I was destined to do something MORE.
How Lorna Jane came to be is quite a story in itself, but it's ultimately a story about me making a decision to leave the security of a full-time job to start my own business and pursue the work that I loved. It was never my intention to build a global business, write books or inspire women with my Active Living philosophy. That's the great thing about trusting your instincts and following your dreams. And it's that idea of believing in yourself and relentlessly going after what you want that has become the heart of the Lorna Jane brand.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Lorna Jane Activewear?
Fairly early on, it became evident that Lorna Jane was more than a clothing label. I wanted to design activewear that empowered women to live their best life through Active Living, which is getting more out of life by giving more of yourself every day. My deeply rooted passion for Active Living, coupled with the fact that activewear as a fashion category didn't even exist when we first launched, made it extremely difficult to determine where we "fit" as we began to think about marketing out garments. The highlight during my tenure at Lorna Jane, without a doubt, has been having the opportunity to share the message of Active Living with women all over the world and see their lives change as a result.
What advice can you offer women who are looking to start their own business?
The best advice I can offer a woman who is looking to start her own business is to be authentic. I think it's really important in business and in life to be real, to be honest and to be true to your personal philosophies. It is the only way that you can do your best work and reach your true potential.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I think the idea of finding work/life balance isn't as much of an issue when you love what you do. I love business meetings, I love working out, I love designing activewear and I absolutely love sharing my Active Living philosophy and seeing that philosophy change people's lives. This is my work but it is also what I love to do most in the world. That being said, I do find that there days where I feel that there are simply just not enough hours. I manage this by building rituals into my day to make sure that I find time for the things that are important. One of the most important and beneficial rituals I do is rise early and take a couple of hours each morning for myself. I stretch and spend some time meditating, exercise, shower, and eat a healthy breakfast. Then and only then do I check my emails.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think the issue for both men and women in business is that they often under estimate their potential. I believe we need to break free from normality and be extraordinary. We need to think bigger so that we will DO and achieve more in life and at work.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Surrounding myself with like-minded, positive people has made all of the difference in my personal and professional life. It's offered continual inspiration and encouragement to think bigger and be better, ultimately empowering me to build Lorna Jane into the global business that it is today.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I love Oprah... but I mean, who doesn't? For me, what resonates most is that she is an example of the power that positivity can have in your life. I love her quote, "Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher."
What do you want Lorna Jane Activewear to accomplish in the next year?
I have my heart set on sharing the message of Active Living with MORE women around the world! The US is just the start of our global expansion. We intend to forge forward into other countries. We have already seen some clear interest in Canada, the UK, Hong Kong and Dubai, just to name a few.