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Lorna Jane Clarkson — From Inventing Activewear To Global Empire

38 minutes

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How this 'accidental' entrepreneur grew a multi-million dollar business over 30+ years in business

Did you know that 1 in 3 new small businesses in Australia don't get past their first year of operation? With ever-changing markets and consumer demands, to recessions and pandemics, there's no question that running a successful and profitable business long-term is challenging. So, how do you become a part of the 1% in business and actually succeed? This week's episode of The Make It Happen Show features a legend in the Activewear space, Lorna Jane Clarkson, who spills all on exactly what it takes.

Credited for creating the Activewear category as we know it today, Lorna’s story in creating Lorna Jane Activewear began nearly 33 years ago when she couldn’t find fashionable, functional pieces to wear that fitted her active lifestyle. So, she decided to make her own. She’s since become the most awarded Activewear Designer, a 6 time author, and shared with us exactly how she became one of the most influential figures in the health and wellness industry and recognised as a global business leader too. This is not one to miss.

Questions asked in this episode:

  • 1:00 - Over 30 years, you've gone from coming up with the concept of activewear to over 100 stores and retail all over the world. How have you made that happen?
  • 2:27 - What if a business owner isn't fully aligned with their passion and what lights them up?
  • 4:43 - How do you get more people in your team to be champions of your team's culture?
  • 5:19 - Do you think gut feelings come from intimate knowledge of all parts of the business or can you develop it?
  • 6:22 - How do you make the right choice more often when hiring new people?
  • 8:46 - How do you get your new hires set off on the right foot in the beginning?
  • 10:47 - When did your HR/Peoples department come in?
  • 13:50 - What was the thought process behind buying back the business after it had been sold?
  • 22:12 - What are your philosophies on running a good, profitable, stable business?
  • 23:57 - The last few years have had a lot of change in the business. How much was a focus was on retail vs ecommerce before COVID, and how has it changed?
  • 26:20 - What can retail do as we open back up to inject more flair and fun?
  • 27:31 - Have you had to change your footprint in your stores at all?
  • 29:50 - Do you have a couple of go-to levers that you can pull to get back on target when targets fall behind?
  • 32:15 - Have there been particular trends that have come, gone and come back again in design?
  • 33:36 - Make It Happen In A Minute


In this episode, you will learn:

  • The 2 types of business owners
  • Who's responsible for the culture of a business
  • Why you need to facilitate your team's growth potential
  • The 7 year slump most entrepreneurs face
  • The #1 investing advice for business owners
  • The pros & cons of bootstrapped businesses vs. investor-backed businesses
  • How the retail and ecommerce industry looks in 2022
  • And more!
Headshot of Lorna Jane Clarkson, Founder of Lorna Jane Activewear, for The Make It Happen Show

"You've got to do scary things in business and you won't do those scary things if you're worrying about paying the bills."

— Lorna Jane Clarkson




Great insight for business owners and super practical takeaways!

Bruce Casanovic

Amazing guests, great insights into their journey and what has helped make their businesses successful. Great to hear how some of the guests have navigated challenge as well. Loads of good practice takeaways.

Perfect for the Monday commute


Great to listen to on the commute to work on Monday mornings. Great content, well delivered and plenty of insights from industry leaders in a variety of fields. Good to see the entourage getting out there with a podcast series

Top-shelf guests. Top-shelf conversations.


This is so awesome, so helpful, and so fresh. Right from the get-go, the team at The Entourage have brought out the big names in the Aussie entrepreneur and business space to have conversations that every business owner should listen to. I can't wait to see who they bring on next.

Amazing guests


Loved the episode with Tim Fung, Airtasker CEO! You guys are getting some awesome guests in! Thank you!

Entourage on point again!

Adz Rodger

Great content again from The Entourage! Particularly like the 1st episode and the points Tim Fung made about making sure you make time to map out the future and don't get stuck on day to day 'work', as well as the observation that you really need to be strategic about your people management and not just try to save money. Two awesome take homes I have already taken action on!

For entrepreneurs and non-trepeneurs alike


Well this was one of the best things I’ve heard in a while. I’m by no means the target demographic, having zero business or entrepreneurial experience at all. Luckily the advice given for business growth and success is remarkably applicable to personal growth and success. Loved the conversational style, by the end of the podcast I felt like I knew both Tims personally, which is a great mark of engagement. And I loved hearing about the humble beginnings of Airtasker from the founder himself. Give this a listen if you’re craving a bit of personal or professional inspiration.


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