When Lara Mead started VARLEY it was all or nothing, putting her house on the market and leaving behind an intense job in London, she and her husband co-founded their athletic wear business after inspiration hit on a trip to Santa Monica. Between both of them, they’ve taken on the roles of design, shipping, and logistics, as well as all the myriad other responsibilities that come with being founders. Four years on, VARLEY is now a staple for women worldwide, with timeless athleisure wear that performs. We picked Lara’s brain about what it’s like working with your significant other, wellness rituals and how keeping it simple is the best way to stay balanced.
You and your husband famously quit your jobs and sold your house to get Varley going. Looking back, what made you both take the leap in that very moment?
On one of our first holidays together, we were walking along the beach in Santa Monica when the idea to start Varley came to us. We rarely saw each other, and we felt unfulfilled by our career paths, so we knew we needed a change. We felt inspired by LA’s active lifestyle and dreamt about spending our lives together building a brand that we’re both proud of, around our passion for fitness. As soon as we got back home to London, we started putting the plan in motion. It was exhilarating.
In the early days of Varley, you took on the roles of designer, marketing, PR, and dealt with fulfilment. What was the process of letting go and growing your team like?
In many ways, Varley was our first child. Watching it grow has been an incredible journey, but we’ve learned to be realistic about how much we can take on ourselves. The brand has grown quite quickly, and we’ve worked hard to build a reliable team that we can trust.
How has the husband-wife dynamic made Varley stronger?
I consider myself very lucky because my business partner is my best friend. We have a strong foundation of trust and push each other to achieve more. Persevering through the highs and lows of running a business has made us stronger. I’m grateful for our partnership because we wouldn’t be here without one another.
“I think there’s enormous pressure for women to “do it all.” I used to challenge myself to start new diets, try new workouts, listen to more podcasts – anything to improve myself as a professional and mom.“
Varley is headquartered in London and LA. When it comes to design, how do you bridge the gap between two such distinct lifestyles?
Our design process starts with the Varley woman in mind. We choose color palettes and silhouettes that women will want to wear today, tomorrow, and after several seasons. Each design blends California’s chic wellness lifestyle with London’s metropolitan sophistication. I think our “best of both worlds” approach is what makes us so unique.
How did becoming a mom change your approach to fitness and business?
Fitness has always been a large part of my life. I started running when I was nine years old and have made working out a priority ever since. I’m a better mum, wife, and business woman when I make that time for myself. But motherhood has taught me that less is more, and you need to be realistic about how much you can take on and how much time you have to dedicate to things.
Being in LA, you’ve tapped into the abundant wellness culture; what’s one wellness ritual you implement into your work life?
Every morning before work, I drink fresh celery juice. I’ve found that since drinking it daily, it has really helped my skin, digestion, and energy levels. I add a squeeze of lemon or a piece of ginger to give it a proper kick.
“It’s so easy to fall into the betterment trap. But I’ve learned that keeping it simple is best, and now I’m trying to focus more on the little things that make me happiest.“
When it comes to the active community, what do you think industry leaders focus on too much, and subsequently what often gets overlooked?
I think there’s enormous pressure for women to “do it all.” I used to challenge myself to start new diets, try new workouts, listen to more podcasts – anything to improve myself as a professional and mom. It’s so easy to fall into the betterment trap. But I’ve learned that keeping it simple is best, and now I’m trying to focus more on the little things that make me happiest.
How do you keep a balanced, active day-to-day lifestyle?
I like starting my day at Speir Pilates, located in Santa Monica. If I can’t make it to the studio, I usually stream P.volve workouts in my living room. I try to wrap up work by late afternoon, so I can spend more time at home with my baby and toddler. After a hectic day at work, I like nothing more than to walk around my neighborhood with my dog and listen to podcasts. Moving and being outdoors really helps rejuvenate and clear my mind.
What does the term ‘everyday athlete’ mean to you and how does it resonate with you?
To me, “everyday athlete” means living an active lifestyle that’s balanced and realistic. You don’t need to run marathons or have a six-pack to be healthy. Instead, it’s about knowing what’s best for your body and taking care of yourself. Raising my children and running Varley is a balancing act, and finding time for working out can be challenging. Understanding my needs allows me to incorporate activities into my routine that are simple, effective, and work for my schedule.
Photos by: Christina Choi