LIJA Founder Linda Hipp takes us behind the brand to talk fitness, fashion and balancing functionality with style
From golf and tennis to yoga, LIJA is fast becoming the go-to sportswear brand that people want to be seen in both inside and outside the gym. Setting the bar as far as fitness gear goes, its selection of lightweight leggings, panel dresses and racerback tanks have all manner of sports and workouts covered, seamlessly fusing cutting edge fashion with high energy fitness.
We caught up with LIJA founder Linda Hipp, to find out how it all began, how you develop activewear that caters for any sport and the exciting new winter collection...
So how did it all begin?
We started about 15 years ago, (which makes me feel old!) as a golf brand. We used the same mantra that we use today, which is fusing fashion with sport, but it was specifically for golf at the time. I was playing it recreationally and there was nothing that was out there for women who were younger and more style conscious, so I started the line.
It coincided with when women’s golf really started to take off in America, so it became one of the top brands very quickly. We figured that our following of active women must do other sports too, so it made perfect sense for us to move into tennis and it rapidly became our biggest revenue stream. Then we launched our run and yoga lines and those are now starting to catapult too.
We love how the range is separated into different sports…
It’s definitely very sports-specific. We wanted to design modern, edgy and feminine silhouettes, but it’s really all about the fusion between fashion and sport. The fabrics are important as are the trims and details too - women love details that make the pieces special, so that’s really important to us.
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Do you have your eye on any other sports to expand the range into?
I think the one thing that we’ll probably expand into in the near future is adding some lifestyle pieces to the range. It wouldn’t be a sports-specific category, more to complement and enhance the sports categories we already have.
Women now have such busy and active lifestyles that they want to be able to have pieces that help it look like they haven’t just come back from the gym - some fantastic leggings or we have this really cool tunic that you can throw on top of a top. That will be the next big foray for us.
How do you stay fit? What’s your favourite sport?
I have a lot of favourites, but unfortunately my time doesn’t always permit me to do them because of running the business. I also have a five year old at home too which keeps me very busy! But I do go to a personal trainer twice a week. It’s mainly strength-training which I really enjoy.
If time permits, I run twice a week and I do love practicing yoga. Unfortunately I only get to do it once a week, so I’m trying to get that to the next level a bit more. It’s so hard though because it takes time, plus, I don’t want to take more time away from my daughter and my family. But I’m working on it.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
I usually get up at quarter to six, have a good, healthy breakfast and then work out from 6.45am until 8am. Then I shower, change and have a second breakfast and then it’s off to work.
I’m usually at work from 9 to 5.30 and it’s usually filled with meetings. At the end of the day I’ll come home and be with my daughter - we’ll hang out. I like to keep the office out of the home while she’s awake so I’m totally focused on her. We’ll go for a walk or a run around the block. She’ll head to bed and then it’s just a little bit of work in the evening to prep for the next day.
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What do you find helps you to separate work and life?
It’s really tricky and I’ve gone through phases where I have to have a bit of a check in with myself because it’s just not healthy to work too much. You have to have that work-life balance. I make sure when I get home to put my phone away while I’m with my daughter because I don’t want to constantly be checking it, which you can get into a very bad habit of doing.
I also make sure that I get out a couple of times a week. You need your own personal time as well, so I do ensure that there are some breaks in between the work. Working out is really important too for making sure you have some time for yourself, because if you have time for yourself, it ultimately makes you better for your family. Everybody falls into that same trap again though. I’ll go through ebbs and flows and make sure that I get myself back on track to give myself a strong balance between the two.
Where did the name LIJA come from?
That’s a good question. We always knew it was going to focus on active apparel, so when we were trying to figure out a name of the business, we tried to come up with a word that meant something to the direction to the company. So LIJA’s a spin-off of the word ‘leisure.’ We just felt it was a great feminine name, reflective of the category of the business that we were in.
How do you look to improve each line? What motivates you?
When we design for each sports category, we try to ensure that we have the functionality that each one needs. They have to have the basics (quick-drying and stretchy) but we also want to make sure it’s of superior quality fabric-wise too.
We don’t necessarily look to fabrics as inspiration for the lines though. It’s more about what the fashionable edge is that we want for that season. We often then find a technological fabric that meets the needs of the direction for that season, but we always try to stay up to date with what’s new technology-wise too. We try to ensure that they have all the functions we need for each sport.
What’s your favourite piece from the winter collection?
There are many loves from the Fall 2014 line, but I think my favourite item is the updated Cocoon Jacket.
Originating in spring as an ultra-lightweight layer jacket, we’ve brought it back for Fall using a bonded water-repellent fabric. The ¾ length silhouette has a beautiful, feminine shape with gorgeous gather details on the back. It's perfect for to and from a workout or to throw on with a pair of jeans.
If you had to describe the LIJA girl in three words, what would you say?
Modern, edgy, confident.
The new LIJA Starry Night AW14 collection is available from the 1st of July 2014 and the Lotus Land collection from the 15th of September from www.lijastyle.com