We sat down for 3 minutes with Alex Vanthournout founder of athleisure brand Fashercise to find out how she started her business, her rules when purchasing fitness apparel and the best workout tunes!
How did you start your business?
Prior to starting my business, I worked full time as a fashion blogger. I am short and curvy and wrote about fashion in a way many others didn’t at the time, which helped me build a loyal following. I discovered running and started writing on my blog about fitness and fashion, and found there was a real gap in the market for cool activewear. If I cared about what I wore in everyday life, why should I wear boring clothes at the gym? Fashercise was launched as a bit of a tongue-in-cheek side project about making fitness more stylish, but within a few months I realised it could actually be a great business venture. We relaunched as an eCommerce in August 2014, and the rest is history!
What are the three rules for buying the best fitness apparel?
- Quality over everything. When we sweat, squat, run, jump etc. we expect activewear to stay in place, to not be see-through, to keep you dry, to support you. There’s so much more to activewear than regular fashion, and I will not stock brands which cannot offer the level of quality we have come to expect.
- A stylish twist. Fashercise is all about being able to cross over your everyday wardrobe and gym wardrobes. The technical fabrics traditionally used in gymwear lend themselves so well to our busy everyday lives – sweatproof, creasefree, breathable – so why could you not wear the perfect black legging with a blazer to work? The brands we stock are often young, independent labels and I’m always looking for that point of difference in their style. You wouldn’t go for drinks with all your friends wearing the same dress as you, so why should you go to the gym all dressed the same?
- Inclusivity. As a curvy girl, I look for brands which offer a wider size range. Rather than differentiating between ‘regular’ and ‘plus size’, I love brands who just offer the same design for everyone. The industry still has a long way to go, but there are some amazing brands out there which understand the need for inclusivity, such as Good American and Wolf & Whistle
How important is music to you when exercising?
From the moment I wake up until I go to sleep I have music on – I can’t even imagine working out without music. The right song has the power to get you to go that bit faster, be more consistent, and get your focus away from the struggle for a little bit. When I first started running, I compiled my own playlists which were timed to the duration of the run I wanted to do. These have now become a regular feature on our website and lots of people have downloaded them for their own workouts, try it yourself here.
What are your top three songs to get you geared up to exercise?
Too many to choose! It depends on the workout and the mood I’m in. I’m a indie music girl at heart, but that does not always work well with running, so I like a mix of genres. These are some regulars on my playlists:
- Bloc Party – Flux
- Lost Frequences – Are you with me
- Kelly Clarkson – since you’ve been gone (my ultimate guilty pleasure, perfect if you’re having a bad day and want to just sing at the top of your lungs)
What are your top three songs to get you pumped for work?
- Mumford & Sons – Believe
- Bon Iver – 8 (circle)
- Robyn – Dancing on my own
What is the biggest learning of having your own business?
Where to begin… Running my own business is both the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a rollercoaster with endless ups and downs – just when you think you’ve figured something out, a new challenge comes knocking. The Coronavirus crisis was one challenge no one could have seen coming, but I’ve used it as a real moment of reflection, where I’ve been able to take a step back and finetune where I want the business to go. I think the main thing I’ve learned these past 7 years is that if you’re not truly passionate about whatever it is your business does, running your own business is not for you. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and if you’re not willing to make those sacrifices, it’s not for you. The losses feel personal and so hard, but the wins are so satisfying and worth the hard work.
If you had to give three pieces of financial advice to someone starting their own business what would they be?
- Start with a proper business plan and find out how much money you’ll need to make that happen. There are so many costs which you might not expect, so speak to someone in a similar field and ask them to go over your budget with you and point out where you might need to make some changes. I’ve seen businesses fail before they even properly started because they simply didn’t budget correctly.
- Be a pessimist. Prepare for the worst case scenario and run with that. At worst, you’re prepared. At best, you’ll find yourself turning a profit quicker!
- Get an accountant. You’ll spend most of your days trying to figure out how to file tax returns and set up payroll, when you really need to focus your energy on launching your business. Get a professional to do the heavy lifting for you so you can just do what you do best.
Are you a saver or a spender?
I’m a spender. I’m definitely an impulse shopper – but those purchases are often my favourites.
What’s the best purchase you’ve made this year and why?
Quite early on in lockdown I bought myself a foldable, electric bike so I could cycle to our shop every day to pack our online orders without having to take public transport. It’s been such a joy exploring London in this way and will definitely be a great investment going forward.