Lara Mead, Co-Founder of VARLEY is Inspired by the Californian Lifestyle
We all know that California is inspiring. There's amazing weather, beautiful beaches, and overall great vibes. London-native, Lara Mead, took her love of California -- specifically Santa Monica -- and turned it into a business. That business, VARLEY, is a widely successful activewear company that has been seen on women all over. VARLEY has been designed with both London and Los Angeles in mind, with a focus on performance. Newly based in Los Angeles, Lara spoke to MISSBISH about what she loves about LA and how she balances motherhood while being an entrepreneur.
Tell us about where the name VARLEY came from.
My grandmother was a seamstress and she gave me a vintage sewing machine, on the sewing machine was the name VARLEY. The word really resonated with both Ben and I. It sounds strong, active, and looks great.
You work side by side with your husband. What's the best thing about working with him?
I get to hang out with my best friend every day of the week.
VARLEY was created after a trip the two of you took to Santa Monica and has managed to successfully fuse London and Los Angeles style together. How does Los Angeles still inspire your work today? What do you wish LA had that only London can offer?
It’s hard not to be inspired in California, the sheer geography of the place makes it inspirational. You have both mountains and the ocean, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. The place itself makes you want to be healthy and active. People here are exuberant and positive. I don’t wish LA to be any different, it’s special and unique just how it is. However, I do miss elements of London, such as the the architecture, history, and elegance.
You saw a need for contemporary activewear and you filled it with VARLEY. What obstacles have you had to overcome while building your brand?
So many obstacles, but the biggest challenge has been growth. We’ve almost been a victim of our own success sometimes. We have struggled at times to keep up with demand, and have had to very quickly expand on our supply bases and update our distribution facilities.
“I have learned a lot about determination, hard work, and keeping a sense of humor."
How does it feel to see your brand become more and more successful -- being worn by women all over the world?
It’s an incredible feeling. I was at my local ice cream shop over the weekend and I saw a woman with her kids walk in wearing VARLEY. She looked incredible and I was overwhelmingly proud.
What have you learned about yourself since launching VARLEY? What advice would you give someone eager to start their own activewear business?
I have learned that I’m more resilient than I thought I was, not only have myself and my husband launched a successful brand, but we also had a baby at the same time and moved countries. It’s been a crazy two years and I have learned a lot about determination, hard work, and keeping a sense of humor.
How do you balance being a full-time business owner and mom with fitness? What's your favorite way to stay active?
Fitness has been a way of life for as long as I can remember. I started running when I was 9 years old and I think I have been active most days since. It’s a way of life, as normal as brushing my teeth. I’m a better mum, wife, and business women when I have had that time for myself. When time is short I will do a quick interval session, I find a hill near my house and sprint up and down about 10 times, and then do a mini circuit in my living room with the aid of my toddler. If I have more time then I love to do a class; pilates, boxing, anything really.
Give us three of your favorite places that you have discovered since moving to LA!
1) The Rose Bowl Flea Market: My house is full of flea market bargains, as is my wardrobe!!
2) Malibu Farm: My favorite food in LA.
3) Pacific Palisades Sunday Farmers Market: I do all of my food shopping there.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
A boss; a girl who is true to herself despite what others say. A girl who works hard to achieve her dreams and inspire others.
Who is your MISSBISH?
Photographer: Christina Choi