HEALTH is wealth for Lorna Jane Clarkson, so despite being offered "huge amounts of money" for her global fitness empire, she says she won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
She put to rest rumours her 26-year-old business was facing a sale at a Business Chicks breakfast on the Gold Coast this week.
"One of the most frustrating things I read in the press is Lorna Jane is leaving or selling - it's just not going to happen," says Clarkson.
"People start asking when you have some level of success when you are going to retire - but I just think, I've worked really hard for this and am not going anywhere.
"It may sound sad to some people, but if I didn't have this business and team, I just don't know whether I would be happy with my life.
"I've had those talks on the beach; we have been offered huge amounts of money for our business by massive overseas companies - and when it comes down to it I've sat with my husband [Bill, Lorna Jane CEO] and said I just don't know what I would do without it.
"I'm half a person without the brand."
Clarkson, who is now 50, says she expects her next 30-odd years will mirror those that just passed.
"I often semi-joke to the girls they are stuck with me and I will still be there telling them what to do when I'm 80," she says.
"However, I'm not that girl who writes a five-year or 10-year plan - it's more about if I could spend the rest of my life doing what I do today, then I would be really happy."
Clarkson says she knew fitness was going to take off when she launched her brand in the 80s, as she split her time between teaching gym classes and sewing gym gear for friends.
However, she attributes her rise in business to being authentic rather than the health and wellness wave.
Case in point, Clarkson says she didn't even think twice about calling her brand something different to her name.
"I'm so behind the game in other things but it's natural for me to keep ahead of the game in active living because I'm genuinely interested in it," says Clarkson.
"It would only last so long in the modern world until people would see me eating chocolate, not working out or being a different person to who I say I am.
"I think it's a really important message for the younger generation to have the courage to be themselves. Authenticity is key and you can only have success in life if you do what you love."
In tune with her "heath is wealth" motto, Clarkson takes a different view of success to most.
"This is the stone age of what's happening and I really do think health is the new wealth," she says.
"When people look at success they now look at someone who has everything together and a great life, not just lots of money in the bank.
"Success is about happiness - maybe not happiness as big, bold smiley happiness, but genuinely being excited for what's ahead or the feeling you get when you return from a trip and everyone you love is in the one room."
For Clarkson, her loves are her dog, husband Bill and team - she mentions them in that order, but it might be interchangeable.
"In my day-to-day at head office, my team is really small. I have been through periods with more, then brought it back because I want to care about my people, know about their families, be happy if something great happens in their lives - I couldn't do that if all 1800 Lorna Jane employees were at head office."
Sometimes working alongside her husband is "argy-bargy", although in any way it pushes the brand further along.
"I feel sorry for new employees when they have their first meeting and see us disagree on something; it's like seeing your mother and father have an argument," says Clarkson.
"But it's never personal - it's amazing to have your soulmate by your side in business. That kind of tension just drives you further forward in business."
She says Bill more than fulfils his role as CEO, being the first one who will say women are coming into their own and that the brand needs to keep championing that.
It complements her creative direction as chief creative officer and also adds diversity in more ways than one to the Lorna Jane C-suite.
"Bill is competitive and good at every single sport, which drives me insane," says Clarkson.
"I am, on the contrary, one of those people who just likes to do their personal best.
"When we go for runs he makes it a competition to beat the woman in front of us, and I don't want to bite, but he knows just how to push my buttons and next thing I know I am sprinting past her."
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