An interview with... Caroline Lucey, Founder: Active In Style
Tell us about why you launched Active In Style.
I had been working at Lorna Jane, Australia’s largest activewear label, in Australia and they offered me the chance to move back to London and to bring Lorna Jane to the UK. At the time, the UK didn’t have much of an activewear offering, just the big brands like Adidas etc. and Sweaty Betty (which was a lot smaller than it is now), so it was a unique and exciting opportunity. I moved back in 2012 and started importing Lorna Jane. I needed an outlet to sell the brand into the UK and European market so I decided to set up an e-commerce platform that would allow me to do it. That’s when Active in Style was born.
You were previously a journalist and PR – how did this experience shape your desire to launch your own business?
Journalism was what I originally wanted to do as a career and I studied at London College of Fashion and did months of unpaid work experience. When I moved to Australia I wanted to continue to work in the media but there were no job opportunities in Brisbane. Instead I trained to be a personal trainer and set up my own business training clients and doing group classes. Eventually I was offered the PR & Communications Manager role at Lorna Jane which I accepted but continued to run my fitness business alongside. To be honest, before moving to Australia I had never thought about running my own business and I kind of fell into setting up my own fitness company; it was just about identifying an opportunity at the right time. I loved the Lorna Jane product and I could see there was a gap in the market in the UK and I thought let’s give this a go!
What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to take the first step in a new fitness regime?
For me it’s all about it being easy to achieve and to get to each week. With running a business and being a mum, I have to plan my workouts at the beginning of each week; they have to be at convenient times and when nothing else can take over. I don’t over commit myself to too many sessions so I don’t have to cancel any. If getting to the class is difficult or there’s a chance your work or home life will take over then the new regime won’t work. So ensure you have the time set aside and don’t let anything get in the way, and be realistic about what you can actually fit into your week. Once you can commit to one or two sessions you can then add in any others from there.
How much are you involved in the design process of the Active In Style clothing line and what inspires you/ the line?
Very involved. We have a designer who develops the styles and produces all the tech packs for the factories but it’s completely led by my inspirations. We wanted the own label to sit side by side with our other brands and not compete with them as such, but complement them. So we have created a collection of classic, everyday pieces. We also know what our customer wants, so it’s very easy for us to know what will sell well, which is huge asset.
These days there are so many chemicals in everything but thank goodness there are now brands pushing forwards with great natural product lines.
What are your best tips for balancing work, a social life, family and working out?
It’s a constant juggling act but it is possible to have some kind of balance as long as you’re organised and you get enough sleep! Those two things are so important to me in order to be able to cope with the pressure of work and family etc. If I’m tired then I’m not efficient and the balls start dropping! I also try to avoid doing any work when I’m with my children. This is obviously not always possible as sometimes there are urgent things that need doing, but I try and stick to it as much as possible. I use my train journey to work in the morning to clear my head and think about what needs doing – it’s my thinking time. And I try to have a 9 until 9 policy with my phone – again it’s hard to enforce as social media in particular means that there is so much to look at and engage with!
What steps do you take in your life to be more natural?
I try to take as many as possible. All my skincare products are natural and I use them on my children too. The same applies to cleaning products too. These days there are so many chemicals in everything but thank goodness there are now brands pushing forwards with great natural product lines.
What does the term Go Natural mean to you?
For me it means the above; finding ways to use products which are natural and don’t contain chemicals, are not harmful to the environment and are not tested on animals. To me it also means that some days, if I can, I won’t wear make-up and will just use a lip balm and moisturiser. Ideally this would be at least one day a week so that I can let my skin be natural and to breathe.
What advice would you give to someone looking to take more steps to live a more natural life?
Do some research on what brands there are available and give them a go. I think sometimes the thought is that these brands won’t be as good, but believe me they are. Maybe just choose one thing at a time to make more natural and once you’re happy with your choice, move on to something else, and so on.
What’s next for the business?
We are going to be focusing more on our own brand Avenue C and launching new collections this year. Our men’s business Active Man is also a huge focus and we will be launching our own men’s brand soon. Other than that we will continue to work on awareness and growing our business in the UK and Europe and showing that being active and stylish go hand in hand.