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Behind The Scenes: A Day With FLANCI
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Behind The Scenes: A Day With FLANCI

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Nicky

What inspired you to start FLANCI?

I've been running in skorts for around 15 years, but the only skorts available when I started were either way too short or just not very snazzy or inspiring colours. Eventually, I mentioned to Alf that I’d love to start my own activewear brand to create my own fun and colourful skorts. Alf was fully supportive from the get-go, and we haven’t looked back since!

How has that initial inspiration evolved over time?

We've come a long way since those skort daydreams! Many now know us as the ‘skort people’, and the company that inspired a whole bunch of others to jump on and introduce their own colourful skorts. When I started, spotting someone running in a skort was a rarity, until FLANCI came along!

What were you doing in your previous career?

Well, my journey started as a nurse in South Africa, back in 1984. I retrained as a midwife at Christchurch College in Canterbury, but eventually decided it wasn’t for me. A good friend suggested I give pharmaceutical sales a go, and voilà! I spent the next 20 years in the pharma industry, mainly in oncology sales. Quite the career shift!

What do you love most about FLANCI?

Getting to talk about and create products for one of my biggest passions – running! Plus, I love being my own boss, instead of being beholden to a large corporation. The cherry on top is being able to meet incredible people who share our passion.

How do you think FLANCI improves lives?

Our motto is ‘Every Body Out There’ – we're all about encouraging people to move, no matter their shape, size, or fitness level. It's all about putting on something bright and cheerful and stepping out into the fresh air. When you hear someone shout, "I love your leggings!" it's a wonderful feeling. Nobody ever shouts that to someone dressed head-to-toe in black!

What’s your greatest achievement to date?

Gosh, there are so many! Winning industry awards is always exciting, and it’s fantastic recognition for the business that we have worked so hard on. Best of all is when our amazing customers recognise us at events and ask for selfies – that gives me a huge buzz and puts a massive smile on my face. 

Can you share any exciting upcoming projects or collaborations that FLANCI has in the works?

We've got a couple of top-secret collaborations simmering in the pot, but my lips are sealed for now! We're also plotting out next year's events calendar, with some fun new invitations in the mix which is always very exciting for us. Don’t worry, once everything is confirmed we’ll spill the beans!

 

Alf 

What did you think when Nicky came to you with the idea of FLANCI?

When Nicky first brought up the idea of FLANCI, I was absolutely thrilled! Having been together for many years (20 years at the time!), it isn’t hard for me to tell when she’s truly passionate about something, and with FLANCI it was clear to see. Of course, I had complete confidence in her boundless drive and enthusiasm to turn this dream into a success.

What’s your role in FLANCI?

If we had a Financial Director, that would be me. I also handle various operational duties and keep the wheels of contractual admin turning smoothly.

How has FLANCI impacted your life?

Well, at 72 years young, if FLANCI hadn't come around, I might have retired into seven years of total boredom – just golf and endless TV watching. Instead, I get to watch FLANCI's remarkable growth, and I even still get to hit the golf course during the workweek without the boss catching me out!

What do you love most about FLANCI?

What's not to love about FLANCI? If I had to pick one thing, it's the thrill of wildwatching our products and designs when away visiting random towns and cities. Plus, seeing the celebrity-like recognition that Nicky garners when these people realise she's Mrs. Flanci fills me with great pride.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in the activewear industry?

The activewear world is a tough and demanding gig, and it can be easy to slip up. Before you dive into the deep end, do your homework – research the project inside out, and don't be afraid to seek advice in areas where you might lack expertise. Then, go for it with all you've got. I wish we had launched FLANCI a good 20 years ago, so don't hold back!

 

Lou

How did you get involved in FLANCI?

My journey with FLANCI all began very organically, starting through my connection with Nicky in the running community. I became an ambassador for the brand after purchasing a few skorts. After a couple of years as an ambassador, Nicky presented me with the opportunity to join the company in a more official capacity, just at the perfect time when I was looking for a change from my previous job. I couldn’t say no!

What’s your role in the company?

I like to think of myself as the all-around support person for what Nicky and Alf do – a jack-of-all-trades if you like! I handle various tasks that are mostly to do with Nicky's responsibilities, like dealing with customer inquiries, keeping an eye on our social media, and picking and checking orders from our suppliers. On the flip side, I also tackle tasks aligned with Alf's responsibilities, such as compiling customer order information for daily sorting and creating postal labels for orders ready to be sent out to our fabulous customers!

How has FLANCI changed your life?

From a clothing perspective, I absolutely adore the skorts – when I run, they make me feel both feminine and empowered. Gone are the days of running in plain black capris; once I tried a skort, there was no turning back! The variety in styles and colours means there's a FLANCI product for every mood. In terms of work, I get a lot of satisfaction from my role at FLANCI. Working in an environment I'd willingly choose to spend my free time in is such a bonus.

What’s your favourite thing about FLANCI?

The beauty of FLANCI is its variety and inclusivity. There's something in the lineup for everyone – from shorts to leggings, crop tops to hoodies, and everything in between. FLANCI is a brand that welcomes all, regardless of shape, size, age, gender, or ability.

What does a day in the FLANCI office look like?

No two days in the FLANCI office are ever quite the same. Some days are calm and tranquil, with customer orders processed swiftly, and we all head home early. Other days, we receive a huge delivery from our suppliers and there’s a mountain of tasks to complete: checking items in, matching them with customer pre-orders, reaching out to offline customers, and much more. These are the longer and busier days, but they're actually quite enjoyable. Then, there are those days when swatches of new designs arrive and we get to see our upcoming collections come to life on fabric – what’s not to like?

What advice do you have for people who want to work in the fitness and activewear industry?

Patience is key, and sometimes you've got to say "no." No matter how many designs you offer or how many options you provide to customers, there will always be someone who asks for more, something else, or something different. Some might not fully grasp the immense effort that goes into the creative process. However, for every one of those individuals, there are countless others who adore the brand and appreciate the incredible work done at FLANCI. It's an immensely rewarding industry to work in, and you'll find many inspirational people within it.

 

Jan Olive (designer) 

What makes your designs stand out from other brands in the market?

My designs for FLANCI have a secret ingredient that sets them apart – they're crafted from scratch, with a sprinkle of my personal touch! I draw, paint or print the backgrounds and individual motifs as much as possible. Every pattern has elements of my own hand in the design.

Many other activewear brands lean heavily on off-the-shelf patterns, which often lack exclusivity licenses. This sometimes leads to repetitive designs that seem to echo among competitors. Right from the get-go, Nicky had the foresight to dodge this trend and build a consistent, exclusive look for FLANCI.

Are there any particular trends or styles that you are currently focusing on?

Currently, I'm in the festive spirit, working on designs for the Christmas and winter season – quite the irony as we brace for a heatwave (at the time of writing!). While I keep an eye on trends, I don't let them boss me around. FLANCI's ethos revolves around crafting garments that stand the test of time. This year, we're adding a Christmas design to the mix, but we've always had winter designs that can be worn year-round.

My signature style involves layering patterns, and it pairs beautifully with activewear. A tonal background print is far more forgiving and flattering than a block colour that can be unforgiving on lumps and bumps.

What do you love most about FLANCI?

Where do I even begin? One of my absolute favourite aspects of FLANCI is the incredible community that's grown around the brand. It's a warm and welcoming group, and I've made so many new friends through FLANCI that I've genuinely lost count. They've even managed to coax me into running Parkruns, 10k races, and yes, even a half-marathon!

As a colour lover, I really appreciate Nicky's trust in giving me creative freedom with my designs. While working within specific guidelines can be fulfilling, nothing beats letting my creativity run wild without any constraints. Nicky and I share similar tastes, which makes our collaborative process even more enjoyable.

How does it feel to see people wear your designs with pride?

The thrill of spotting someone running down the road wearing my designs is a feeling that never gets old, and living in Somerset (Ground Zero for FLANCI) means that it has become a regular occurrence! The farthest wild FLANCI sighting happened during a holiday in Scotland a couple of years ago. I couldn't contain my excitement and ended up shouting across a café like a wild person! We managed to have a brief conversation, and she completely understood my enthusiasm before making a hasty exit!

What other projects are you working on?

While there are some projects that I can't spill the beans on, I recently had the pleasure of designing some Hawaiian-style shirts for the Somerset Cricket sports shop – quite a fun challenge!

Beyond my role in FLANCI, I’m also an artist and coach. This summer, I'm dedicating my time to developing courses aimed at helping fellow artists overcome creative blocks. This aspect of my work is truly fulfilling because I have the privilege of nurturing a wonderful community of artists, designers, and makers.

By Unearth Marketing Ltd.
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