OPEN DOOR POL­ICY

As the founder of an ICONIC AC­TIVEWEAR la­bel, Lorna Jane knows how to mix BUSI­NESS AND LEISURE. That’s why her new Los An­ge­les HOME is all about au­then­tic CON­NEC­TIONS.

Collective Hub - - CONTENTS - WORDS AMY MOL­LOY

lorna jane takes us be­hind-the-scenes of her new los an­ge­les home which, thanks to an open door pol­icy, per­fectly mixes busi­ness and leisure

Ithink it’s a pre­con­ceived idea from the ’90s that you need a cor­po­rate of­fice,” in­sists Lorna Jane Clark­son. “I know a lot of peo­ple start their busi­nesses from home and one day dream of mov­ing into an of­fice, whereas I’m al­ways telling women that if you can work from home well and have it all-en­com­pass­ing, that’s per­fect. I like to live my life a bit more flu­idly.”

For most of us, a home of­fice means a spare room con­verted into a study or a lap­top propped on a din­ing ta­ble – not an en­tire ‘spare’ house ded­i­cated to cre­ativ­ity. But this is the work­life ar­range­ment of the founder of Aus­tralia’s most iconic ac­tivewear brand, whose suc­cess in the US has now mo­ti­vated her to move state­side.

“Al­though launch­ing the busi­ness in Amer­ica has been ex­cit­ing, stay­ing in ho­tels with air con­di­tion­ing and win­dows you can’t open is a night­mare for me,” says Lorna. “The idea was to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that would make us want to spend more time in Los An­ge­les. I’m a real home bird and knew that if we in­vested in prop­erty it would make a dif­fer­ence.”

In early 2016, Lorna and her hus­band Bill Clark­son bought a patch of land in sought-af­ter Santa Mon­ica, which came with two palatial houses – one which they live in and one that has been con­verted into Lorna’s de­sign stu­dio.

“I wanted a space that meant I could spend more time at home rather than go­ing to the of­fice ev­ery­day, which is what I do when I’m in Bris­bane,” says Lorna. “The dream was that I could have break­fast meet­ings with my team in this ca­sual, cre­ative space where they would feel re­laxed and em­pow­ered.”

The story be­hind Lorna Jane has be­come a start-up fairytale – how a young aer­o­bics in­struc­tor from Bris­bane was so frus­trated by the work­out wear on of­fer that she be­gan sewing her own, and in do­ing so cre­ated a cult prod­uct line. But suc­cess hasn’t al­ways come eas­ily; one of the rea­sons Lorna was so drawn to her new Los An­ge­les res­i­dence.

Bai­ley House, the build­ing that is now Lorna’s stu­dio, was de­signed in 1948 by ar­chi­tect Richard Neu­tra as part of an ex­per­i­men­tal project. His brief was to build min­i­mal but stylish hous­ing for a post-war econ­omy. How­ever for over 20 years, no­body wanted to live in them be­cause the ar­chi­tec­ture seemed too un­con­ven­tional.

“When I read that story I thought – that’s just like me!” ex­claims Lorna. “For 25 years I’ve been telling peo­ple to wear ac­tivewear be­yond their work­outs, but for at least 12 years peo­ple told me I was crazy. I in­stantly had a real affin­ity with the build­ing and the fact that great things do take time.” >

I wanted a SPACE that meant I could spend more time at HOME rather than go­ing to the OF­FICE ev­ery­day.

So, what does it take to cre­ate a healthy, happy home for a fit­ness mogul? When shop­ping for real es­tate, Lorna and Bill had three im­por­tant re­quire­ments. It had to be less than a 10 minute drive to the brand’s Santa Mon­ica head of­fice (“I don’t want my hus­band to be stuck in traf­fic when we could be work­ing out to­gether”). It also needed to be bright and airy. On top of this, any ren­o­va­tion work had to feel “au­then­tic”.

In con­ver­sa­tion with Lorna, au­then­tic­ity is a word you hear of­ten, whether she is talk­ing about brand­ing, net­work­ing or paid-for so­cial me­dia en­dorse­ments (Lorna Jane re­fuses to pay any In­sta­gram in­flu­encers to wear the brand’s prod­uct).

Dur­ing the Bai­ley House ren­o­va­tions, in­te­rior de­sign firm Twofold LA were given a sim­ple brief – mod­ern bo­hemian – and a tight dead­line. They had just three weeks to turn the sec­ond house into a de­sign stu­dio be­fore Lorna Jane held an event at the prop­erty, at­tended by LA’s most fit and fa­mous women.

“It was Bill’s idea to host the event at home and I thought it was crazy at first,” says Lorna. “We only fin­ished ren­o­va­tions on a Thurs­day evening and the event took place on the Fri­day.”

They set­tled on a com­pro­mise, open­ing up part of the house for the cel­e­bra­tions, in­clud­ing the gar­den where ‘elixr sta­tions’ served health-boost­ing ton­ics and clean-eat­ing canapés.

The guest list was a mix­ture of old friends, in­clud­ing one of the first mod­els to shoot a Lorna Jane cam­paign, and lo­cal celebri­ties with a pas­sion for healthy liv­ing. “I’ve never been good at net­work­ing be­cause I pre­fer things to hap­pen or­gan­i­cally,” says Lorna, “but I kept think­ing, this is how I want to build re­la­tion­ships. It felt so in­ti­mate, re­laxed and gen­uine.”

There are now plans to host more at-home events at the prop­erty. “We can bring peo­ple to Bai­ley house, feed them recipes out of our cook­books and show them the prod­uct range in an in­spir­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” says Lorna.

The open-door pol­icy also ex­tends to em­ploy­ees, as the de­sign stu­dio is linked to a sep­a­rate an­nex with a bed­room,

I pre­fer things to hap­pen OR­GAN­I­CALLY… This is HOW I want to build RE­LA­TION­SHIPS.

bath­room and study. “It means that, if one of my de­sign­ers comes over from Aus­tralia, they can stay there and have their own pri­vacy.”

With a global busi­ness that in­cludes 235 stores in 53 coun­tries, how does Lorna per­son­ally stay grounded? “I ac­tu­ally love change,” she says.

“In my home I’m al­ways mov­ing things. It’s why I’m a real leaner of pic­tures and not much gets hung on the walls here. As long as I have my favourite can­dle and my favourite per­son with me, then I’m happy.”

To com­bat home­sick­ness, she only needs to visit the gar­den, where huge gum trees of­fer a re­minder of Aus­tralia. Lorna now plans to di­vide her time be­tween LA and Bris­bane, with shorter trips to Europe and New York. “Asia is also a huge mar­ket for us,” she says. “In the next 12 months I think busi­ness will ex­plode over there, so I can tell I’m go­ing to do a lot more travel – but no more houses!” Did she have any con­cerns about mov­ing to LA – a town with a rep­u­ta­tion for su­per­fi­cial­ity – when au­then­tic­ity is so im­por­tant to her ethos? “I saw it as a chal­lenge,” says Lorna. “I re­mem­ber hear­ing on the ra­dio that Se­lena Gomez asks for $500,000 for an In­sta­gram post. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I want peo­ple to love our brand with­out hav­ing to pay them to en­dorse us.

“I love that peo­ple choose to wear our prod­uct be­cause they love it.”

As long as I have my FAVOURITE can­dle and my favourite PER­SON with me, then I’m HAPPY.

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