hit enter to search

Not a member? Learn more about our community.

Apply Now!

This next success story reads a little like a fairytale. On a trip to Los Angeles from London with her husband, the idea for Varley was conceived while walking along the Santa Monica shoreline, all the way to Malibu. Having successful careers back home that were leaving them unfulfilled, the pair decided to trade in their day jobs and follow their dreams to create a line of athletic wear that is growing in popularity faster than the speed of light. Fast forward to two short years later and Lara Mead and her husband Ben have relocated to sunny la-la-land and have a brand that is hotter than the LA forecast. Read on to hear more from this Ladyboss we want to get to know.

Congratulations on your insane growth! You and your husband started Varley less than 2 years ago and you’ve grown the brand 2000% and are in over 500 retailers. How did you do this?

To answer this question fully, it would be a very long and boring chapter! We have built the business with a lot of hard work, determination and drive, and of course, with a smile and a sense of believe along the way.

The idea for the line came out of a trip to Los Angeles you took from London. What specifically was it about the California life that inspired you so much?

I love the outdoor way of life, and the positivity of the people in California. When I first came here, everyone appeared to be active, and taking a holistic approach to their wellbeing which I found very motivating. Also, the beauty of the ocean and surrounding environment is a constant source of inspiration.

How did you go from the idea stage to a booming business? What were the first steps that you took and who was your first hire?

Our first steps were developing the first product samples and had an amazing photoshoot. We then set up appointments with Bandier and Carbon 38. Luckily, they both loved our products and bought into our very first collection.

Our first hire was actually the model we used for that first shoot! Given that she was based in LA, she soon became our ‘girl Friday’ and she helped run operations in LA while we were still living in London.

Surround yourself with people who
are more talented than you are.

Did you have someone who really influenced and helped to develop you in the early days? A mentor? What was that like?

Nicole Oldenwald, founder of the showroom Nicasa, was pivotal for the brand. She has been our sales agent since day one, and has been instrumental to our wholesale success. Nicole left her position as the sales director of Wildfox to set up her own showroom and is based out of the Cooper Building, Downtown. She’s a real ball breaker!

You have definitely added some sex-appeal to work out wear. What inspires you when designing your collection?

I’m constantly inspired day to day with what’s going on around me. I spend a lot of time working out, and get ideas from all the amazing women around me. I also spend a lot of time traveling back and forth between Europe and LA, and that provides a constant source of inspiration.

What is your favorite workout? How do you have time to fit it in?

There are so many workouts I love. My first love is running and has been since I was 10 years old. There is nothing more therapeutic than running along the beach. Class wise, when in London, I only train with The Workshop Gym at the Bulgari hotel because they really know how to train a woman’s body. In LA, I love to box, and this is something my husband and I enjoy doing together. I always make time for working out, and training has been a way of life for me since I was so young. Working out is as natural as brushing my teeth. I like to go first thing in the morning as it sets my day off on the right tone.

Lara Mead

Working out is as natural as brushing my teeth.

You’ve since moved your family to LA and are enjoying everything that the warmer climate has to offer. What are your favorite places to hang out in LA?

We live in Santa Monica, so we love hanging out at the beach with our son. Our favorite ice cream shop is Rori’s on Montana. We also enjoy heading down to Malibu Cafe on a weekend for a walk on the beach followed by brunch. When it’s just my husband and I, we enjoy drinks at Esters Wine Bar, and we love doing dinner at Nobu Malibu. We are also very partial to a pizza from Gjelina’s, and shopping on Abbot Kinney in Venice.

Your son is 2 years old. What has been the biggest life lesson since becoming a mother?

Don’t compare yourself to others! Just concentrate on your own happiness. We have a saying in our family ‘comparison is the death of happiness’.

Do you see a difference between parenting in London vs LA?

Maternity leave in the UK is often longer than here in LA. Many of my London based friends took a full year off from work and adapted slowly to motherhood. I think women here in LA juggle and hustle much more which makes parenting trickier. The weather in LA helps enormously, it’s always easier when I’m able to get my son out the house and to the park or down to the beach. Santa Monica particularly has a constant source of free entertainment for kids.

We have a saying in our family ‘comparison is the death of happiness’.

3 pearls of wisdom


Stay calm.


Don't compare.


Be patient.

xx Lara Mead

Photos by Amy Smyth

  • Share

leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Suggested Stories

arrow-right pointer circle facebook instagram linkedin pinterest-brands social-youtube twitter-brands