AIB Featured Business Leader – Lorna Jane Clarkson
Lorna Jane Clarkson is a name synonymous with a fit and healthy lifestyle – but what many do not realise is her remarkable business success over the past couple of decades. As Australia’s leading activewear businesswomen, Clarkson is certainly one to watch. Born in England in 1964, she moved to Brisbane with her mother at the age of ten. After leaving secondary school she trained as a dental therapist, and subsequently went on to work in that role for some years.
Pursuing her passion in active living, Lorna Jane Clarkson was also a part-time fitness instructor out of hours. It was during this second occupation that she discovered the lack of comfortable and fashionable activewear available for women, and started making her own garments. She created items such as t-shirts for herself, however after sometime she noticed that people in her classes were discussing them. In true entrepreneurial spirit she seized the opportunity and decided to sell her items. In an interview she stated that ‘It’s all about putting yourself on the line. If you’re not willing to do that, how can you really achieve anything?’.
After much success selling her garments to local fitness-g0ers, Clarkson opened her first retail store ‘Lorna Jane’ in Brisbane’s CBD in 1990. This store included her original product ideas, as well as evolving into a number of new products to cater to all needs. A high achiever with an enviable spirit of perseverance, she adds ‘I have always seen setbacks as an opportunity to test my underlying determination and push myself to achieve more’. The first store was a huge success, leading Clarkson to open subsequent stores around Queensland, then around Australia as a whole. In 2010, private equity firm Champs Ventures co-invested into the Lorna Jane brand, which enabled it to begin its worldwide expansion.
Currently Lorna Jane Clarkson boasts 155 stores worldwide, with the majority in Australia and the US. With a reported $100 million turnover per year and debt-free expansion, the organisation is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Other achievements of Clarkson include being inducted into the Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame in 2013, winning numerous RAQ Fashion Design Awards and showcasing her designs at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival. Regardless of what industry you are in, Clarkson shows us that hard work and determination can help you achieve your goals. She adds ‘I think when you are truly passionate about something, you know you have to make it happen’. Businesspeople alike can use this case study as a source of motivation which can help put you back on track to achieving your goals.
What do you think about Lorna Jane Clarkson’s journey to success? Alternatively, would you like to see any other business leaders featured on the AIB blog? Let me know by commenting below.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to complete this article: Move Nourish Believe and The Bottom Line TV.