Here’s what went down at this morning’s Business Chicks breakfast at Hilton Brisbane, hosted by Lorna Jane Clarkson.
Fitness fashion entrepreneur and designer Lorna Jane Clarkson completed a seven city Business Chicks tour in Brisbane this morning, addressing a sold out crowd at Hilton Brisbane.
The crowd had gathered to hear Clarkson speak about business, life and health, and to hear about her new book ,Inspired, but something else had to be addressed first. Today’s event followed two days of controversy and social media storms, after the Lorna Jane company posted a controversial job ad seeking a “receptionist/fit model” to complete administrative duties as well as help the design team fit garments.
At the event, which bmag attended, Clarkson took to the stage where journalist and Media Potential director Jillian Whitting wasted no time in asking her about the controversy.
“I just had to close the doors because I felt the whole thing had been blown up into something it actually wasn’t,” Clarkson told the audience. “We had two part time positions to fill and decided to combine them into one role, so that this person would be completely focused on Lorna Jane. I was trying to give someone a full time job, I was just trying to do something good. I think the people who are upset did not actually read the advertisement.”
When asked why she required a model, Clarkson replied that it was standard procedure to use a fit model to ensure consistent styling and fit across all products.
“Why not use a mannequin?” asked Whiting, to which Clarkson replied, “Because a mannequin can’t tell you how it fits. It can’t work out in the product and tell you how it feels, how it moves or if the zipper is too heavy. At Lorna Jane we all trial the products, but we need to have the right fit.
“We received so many applications for the position and it really is a great opportunity for someone to be part of the Lorna Jane team and to actually be in the showroom, try on the clothes and give feedback.”
Clarkson said that building a brand and launching a business was hard work, but focusing on getting your dream off the ground holds a special kind of excitement.
“All of our friends had cars and were going on holidays; we had a couple of bikes and lived in a factory,” Clarkson said, referring to when her business was just starting out. “But when you’re chasing a dream you never see yourself as missing out. You see yourself as moving one step closer.
“I’ve always thought of the business as inspiring one customer at a time to inspire the world and that’s how I look at it. Every morning when I wake up I think ‘how can I make a difference? How can I inspire one more woman?’ I know that sounds corny, but that’s the truth and I get to do it through an amazing active wear brand.
“One thing people like to write about my husband and me is that we’re selling the business and we’re leaving, but I would like to share with you that that would make me really sad. I love what we do. I love this brand too much to give it to anyone else, no matter how much money they offer me. But also, this is my life; I can’t imagine my life any other way. You’re stuck with me.”
So, what’s it really like at Lorna Jane and how do you get a job there?
“Yes we have green smoothies, yes we have a gym at Lorna Jane and we wear active wear,” Clarkson laughed. “But, we also work really hard and we are really driven. I liken Lorna Jane to a swan on a lake, moving forward on the surface but my amazing team going like this (moves hands quickly) under the surface. It is controlled chaos and we do believe in building the ship while it is flying.
“When you go for an interview at Lorna Jane, there’s one question we ask that is very important. It is ‘why Lorna Jane?’ we want to know why you want to work with us, and the correct answer? It’s because you want to be fit and active. You believe in the active philosophy of moving your body every day, of nourishing it with food and being energetic. You want to inspire women.”
Clarkson used the Business Chicks breakfast to launch her new book Inspired, which will go on sale tomorrow.
“The book is called ‘Inspired’ because when people talk about Lorna Jane and our team they always say ‘you inspire us’,” she said. “I feel like people are looking for it and in a social media world we look at all these other lives and think ‘they have a more inspired life’ than we do. The message in this book is that if you do what you love and slow down enough to appreciate it, you will live an inspired life.
“That’s what I do. I watch movies, I travel, I do all the new work outs and try all the new super foods and that’s what inspires me.”
So what advice did Clarkson have for the hundreds of women who poured into the Hilton this morning, eager for advice on what they should do if they want to start their own business?
It can be summed up in two words.