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Superwoman Spotlight: Lorna Jane

About a month ago, Lorna Jane tweeted me (@LornaJaneActive) saying that she had tried some of my POP Pilates workouts. I replied with a warm thanks and went on with my day…not REALIZING until much later what a HUGE deal that was until some of my Aussie fans said she’s basically the biggest thing in Australia! I was like whhaaattt!!?? I did some research and Lorna Jane (the brand) is actually a huge women’s activewear presence in Australia, comparable to what Lululemon is in the US. I WAS STUNNED. STUNNED. STUNNED. STUNNED!

So get this…Lorna Jane (the person) is actually the head designer and founder of the Lorna Jane premiere activewear brand. Not only is she an entrepreneur and a designer…she also has a background in teaching aerobics classes! And before she started her empire, she was working a 9-5 medical job – then quit to pursue her dreams. Ummm, omg, does this not sound a wee bit too similar to someone else’s story? (ahem) Oh! And she models her own clothes. Yea we’re def soul-twins from afar! (‘cept I only model my own bags because I can’t afford “real models” haha)

I was immediately drawn to read more about Lorna and what she was all about. It’s impossible not to wonder about someone when you feel like you have so much in common. What drives her? What makes her so successful? What does she eat??? Haha. I couldn’t find too much on the internet, so decided to conduct an interview myself – wasn’t even sure if she would accept. But she did!!! And very graciously.

POPsters, I would like to introduce you to one of my new role models – Ms. Lorna Jane! Let’s talk the woman behind the fashion…we’ll get to the clothes later.

Cassey: You were working as a dental therapist when you first started designing your own fitness clothes – what made you quit a stable job and venture into a world of fashion design and retail? Did you have prior experience?

LJ: While working as a dental therapist I also worked part-time teaching aerobics. I was becoming frustrated with the lack of fashionable fitness clothes available and so decided to make my own. I unpicked my favourite swimsuit, laid it out on newspaper and cut around it and that’s how I got my first pattern. I made pieces for myself but I wore them to my classes and soon people started asking me where I got them from and could I make one for them too. As demand grew I made the decision to give it a go full-time so I quit my job as a dental therapist and starting designing. I didn’t have any prior design experience although I used to crochet bikinis for my friends when I was 14.

 Cassey: Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

LJ: The Lorna Jane customer knows that when they buy Lorna Jane clothing it will be both fashionable and functional. In order to stay up to date with the latest trends we closely watch the seasonal shows so that we can make our designs trend focused. However most of my inspiration comes from my own active lifestyle. I’m an active women so the chances are that if there is something that I need in terms of activewear or a particular style or fit that I think would be comfortable then I’ll design or incorporate it into a collection. That is how the brand started in the beginning, I was creating pieces for myself, so its important to me that that same heritage remains today.

Cassey: What’s one design you’re dying to release but don’t think people are “ready” for yet? (because it’s too bold!)

LJ: In the 90s we produced some fabulous cut out swimsuits – they were a bestseller back then and quite daring. I’d like to bring those back.

Cassey: Was there a defining moment when you felt like you “made it”?

LJ: I remember I was sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop in Hong Kong and through the window I saw two girls walking down the street both head to toe in Lorna Jane. I couldn’t believe it; I wanted to jump up and run after them to say thank you for wearing Lorna Jane! It made me realise that we weren’t a small brand anymore and we were building something that was growing quickly and expanding internationally. This year we celebrated the opening of our 100th store in Melbourne which was a huge milestone and we were also named Outstanding Retailer of the Year in Australia – both of these made me feel like we had made it.

Cassey: You and your husband are a power couple! How is it working with him and does he ever try to design clothes :) ?

LJ: Bill and I are lucky in that we both have skills that the other doesn’t. We handle different areas of the business and have worked like that from the beginning. Bill is very good at the business side of things and I handle the creative side. However, we do both have ideas for each other’s areas and Bill has suggested a few items that I should design. In fact he was the one that suggested I make tights and crop tops rather than leotards and tights which were the fashion back in the 90s. I listened to him and it definitely paid off!

Cassey: Tell me what’s going on in your head right now about debuting your new store in the US! You must be crazy excited!

LJ: I am so excited about opening our first store in the US. Bill and I have been talking about this moment for a long time and I can’t believe it is actually happening. Its also scary though as we have spent the last twenty years building our brand in Australia and now we are venturing into a new market and are going to have to do the same again.

Cassey: Fave healthy food?

LJ: Porridge made with oats and topped with rhubarb, natural yoghurt and almonds. The recipe is in my book Move Nourish Believe: the fit woman’s secret revealed, which was published in November. I have this for breakfast almost everyday and just change the topping.

 Cassey: Fave “bad” food!!

LJ: Banoffee pie or ice cream. I love dessert but I’ll normally share one with my husband as I know its only the first or second mouthful that I really enjoy.

 Cassey: Fave type of workout?

LJ: An early morning strength workout followed by a walk with my dog Roger.

 Cassey: What’s one quirk or surprising thing your employees don’t know about you?

LJ: There are hundreds of un-cool things that I love or do as one of my beliefs is to always be myself no matter the pressures that society may put on you SO  …  I only dance at weddings, I LOVE Beatles music, I eat dessert with a teaspoon, I love reality TV but only watch it when I am on the treadmill and I pick a reataurant based on their dessert menu

Cassey: What advice or criticism will you always remember? Who said it and how has it helped you stay driven on your successful journey?

LJ: When I was about to open my first store a good friend and mentor advised me not to do it. He was worried about the responsibility and financial risk for me. If I had listened to himLorna Jane certainly wouldn’t be where it is today. Luckily I chose to follow my instincts and my heart; sometimes you have to take that leap of faith. It’s a lesson that I’ve followed since then; if my instincts are telling me something its usually right.

Cassey: Thank you Lorna for your fab answers – I will be following you very closely now :) And I am flattered that you’ve done my POP Pilates workouts. That’s really, quite cool. Congrats on your new store grand opening in the US. I will try my very best to get to the grand opening!!!

I will be getting some LJ clothes in the mail very soon (can’t wait) and will review the stuff for you guys then. Excited for cute fitness clothes!!!! WOOOO!!! If you’re curious to see what else Lorna has up her sleeve, visit the LJ store online here.

Question for you: who are some of your idols? Is it your mom? Oprah? Your professor? Let me know in the comments who inspires you to stay motivated and reach for your goals! Give it a good think – this is important :)

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  • Hannah

    My greatest inspiration would have to be my sister and my mum.

    My mum is the strongest, bravest and kindest woman I know. I love her for so many reasons, but mostly I love her because she inspires me to be as great as her – as a professional, a mother and as a woman. If I could be half the lady my mum is, I’d be halfway to exceptional :)

    My sister inspires me to do good things for my body. Like most in our family, she struggled with her weight for a long time until she’d had enough. She began eating well, exercising and doing things that keep her active and involved in the world. She lost 30kgs and began competing in marathons and charity fun runs, just because she knew she could. She loves cycling on her beloved bike, ‘Bevin’, and is always looking for new ways to challenge herself. My sister makes me want to be better to myself, and to my body. She is my weight-loss inspiration as much as my mum is my life inspiration.

    On a side note, I’m totally going to check out more Lorna Jane stuff now! As an Aussie, I’m all for supporting Australian designers and businesses. The fact that she makes cute workout gear just makes everything so wonderful and… shiny!

    • Aww love that your mom and sister are your inspirations! Make sure to show me your vision board!

  • Lorna Jane is amazing workout gear. It’s def some of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn (and I’ve worn alot). I’m sure you’ll love the stuff she’s sent you. Can we get some pics when you’ve got them?
    Congrats on being recognised by such a superstar :D

  • Cassey, I have been a long time admirer of your awesome workout videos and beautiful bags. Thank you for sharing this interview with us!

    A woman who inspires me daily is my grandmother who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at too young of an age. Despite her diagnosis, she gets active every day and lives her life to the fullest. This is such a great lesson for the young & old, sick & healthy!

    Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. I want to hear more about this ceramic brush you splurged on! Since I haven’t bought a brush in quite a long time, I started off small with a $20 bristle hair brush, but I can’t believe how shiny it makes my hair! Who knew!?
    xx
    Jessica

  • Melissa

    Hi Casey,
    Nice to meet you! You now how one thing leads to another when browsing the web – well I have come across your site today, somehow or other through Lorna Jane. I am an Aussie (in love with Lorna Jane clothes) and I’m glad you’ve come to realise the magnitude of having Lorna Jane herself contact you. I am so glad I have found your site, I have added it to favourites and look forward to exploring it. One thing I have come across so far is the Body Language clothes you had as a prize once. I have gone and checked their website out now too! You should definitely buy some Lorna Jane (they ship internationally)though looking at you I don’t know if the tights would be small enough. Wow, what a few hours of discovery I’ve had online today!!

    • I want to visit Australia so badly!!! I just got my LJ today and am loving my outfit. Will have to post a pic soon. The tights are def small enough! They fit me so well. Please let me know if you need anything – and welcome to my blog and YouTube channel!

  • What a fun interview. I love that you “met” Lorna Jane through twitter and did this blog post about it. Her story shows that if you are passionate about something you should follow your dreams. So inspiring!!

    Just checked out the LJ online store – they’ve got some super cute stuff.

  • Helen

    That’s one thing I miss about living in Australia. Cute fitness tops and pants. Lorna Jane’s stores are amazing, as soon as you walk in you see the cutest little workout singlets and the stores are so colourful. Cassey, you will love her work out wear..so comfortable. Thanks for the interview!

  • Kate Fitzsimons

    Woww Cassey, that was such an inspiring interview! Im an aussie & been in loveee with LJ clothes for years!! I swear all my pay I save up from my casual job goes straight on LJ tights or crop tops, my friends think I’m crazy but I would way rather fill my wardrobe with workout clothes that make me feel beautiful than anything else! So being such a fan of Lorna it was unreal to get to know the face behind the brand and she seems to be as amazing as all her designs are!

    It is definitely an honour to be recognised by Lorna Jane, but how could she not fall in love with you Cassey, we all have!! You have already inspired so many from all around the world, and I know that’s just the tip of the ice berg of what you’re going to go on to achieve in your life through your passion & enthusiasm. Keep on doing what you do best Cassey, you’re amazing!

  • Kate McElhare

    Personally, myself. I am inspired by qualities that some of my teachers have and my parents, but I am the only one who can truly motivate myself. My mom is my idol and my biggest fan. She has always been to every practice and every competition when I was a cheerleader for 12 years and she supports me in every way. She encourages me to pursue my dreams and to be an independent young woman. I am a Respiratory Care student and I am extremely grateful for my health, my ability to breathe, and to have the opportunity to go to college. I hope to work alongside the American Lung Association and hopefully work in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit in the U.S’s best Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. My education, dreams and aspirations are what motivate me every day and I cannot achieve those dreams without establishing a healthy lifestyle and a good work ethic- both in the classroom and in the gym.

  • Kajsa Österling

    You!!
    Haha, no but you are a great motivator in my life. I seriously wouldn’t have been here without you.
    You know I love you Cassey, I’ve said it lots of times before :) but you are my inspiration!

    But: first I was like, oh yeah, I’m the best, Cassey is the best etc… but then I started thinking, I want to be an inspiration to OTHERS! Me, an inspiration!!! I want to motivate and inspire young girls to workout and get their healthy lifestyle!
    Also, I’m doing it for my family. I want to be fit and thin, in a healthy way, not by dieting and being sad, but with great love and inspiration!
    I love my family, but when it comes to eating healthy, well, not so great.
    I’m trying my best, and I’m looking forward to being healthy and fit in january!! :)
    Be strong Cassey!! <3