Stalked: Mary Moran, Founder, ILU Fitwear

8 January 2017

I was introduced to ILU Fitwear through a previous stalk of mine, the lovely Ashley Yeater, founder of DEFINE. Mary Moran, the brains behind the brand, is an inspirational character, having once worked in the City she left that behind to do something she really loved. Her activewear is a must check out, affordable and fits the body to perfection!
It just shows that if you follow your heart you can do something you love every day!

Why did you decide to start your own brand and what do you love about your job?

It was while I was still working in the City as a lawyer that I started to think about ILU. I had started to realize I wasn’t passionate about the whole City lifestyle….I was much more passionate about health and fitness and I even trained as  a PT, but I wasn’t sure I could build a business from that. Then I noticed that almost every woman in the gym/classes was wearing Sweaty Betty and thought- I could do better!

I actually love the creative process and the joy of seeing a design idea come to life…..but I also enjoy the practical aspects- making the timeline work and thinking about sensible ways of combining fabrics/factories/designs (this is quite similar to some of the work I did in the City!). Talking to customers (business and personal) about the product and their lifestyles. And the interaction with my team. It is stressful financially, going from a City job to running a start up (currently without external investment) – and I work very, very hard- but every day I realize how lucky I am to have this amazing opportunity, and I relish it!

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own activewear brand?

Be absolutely clear about what your brand is- what do you stand for, what is special about it, what makes it your brand- and then be confident about that. And go into it with your eyes open- be aware that it is HARD work and financially challenging- though incredibly rewarding.

What inspires your designs?

The inspiration is really the ILU vibe and the ILU look. We want to project a confident, happy and feminine vibe, with a look that’s stylish chic. We’re not about the pout and the cool. Or top flight athletic bodies. We want our customers to look and feel good when they exercise and go about their daily lives in our pieces.  That means they need to be flattering, functional and have the thought- through details and finishes that make the wearer feel special. Our woman is healthy, but holistically healthy- and happy.

 What other brands do you like?

Hmmm. Lots! Big brands- I like UnderArmour for basics, sensibly priced, functional pieces. I admire Lululemon’s make quality- (I have to say, not so much their designs or fabrics- or prices!). I like lots of the Sweaty Betty yoga/dance pieces. Freddie’s dancewear. For more leisure pieces I really love All Saints. And my favourite small brand is StarSeeds- I met them at OM Yoga Show in Manchester this year. Their concept is very different from ours, but I love their design touches and their green outlook.

Five items you can't live without?

Coffee, more coffee, did I say coffee? But also my phone and MAC, my Molton Brown Black Leather candle, my USANA probiotics and my INIKA purple eye liner….do I really need to stop there, I could go on….and on…My Aigle wellington boots (which are properly made in France)

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