Balancing the Grind with Alana Clarkson, Founder of Idea Athletic

Alana Clarkson is the founder of Idea Athletic, a new activewear line that feature Australian innovation patented sweat-absorbing bamboo lining.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My name is Alana Clarkson and I am a lover of all things exercise, family, friends, fun and sweat related.

I am the founder of Idea Athletic which is sweat proof activewear. My brand came to life through me trying to buy a type of activewear to solve my own issue and realising it didn’t exist so I set out on my mission to create it. 

Our point of difference is called invisiSweat which I hold an Australian Innovation Patent on. InvisiSweat is strategic hidden design panels of a specific fabric within the crotch, butt and bust region of activewear, so you can wear all the colours you love and not worry about visible sweat marks in those areas. 

Being the owner of Idea Athletic which is a startup is one of my roles but secondary to that I also co-run a financial services focused recruitment firm. I’ve always worked in the finance industry and spent many years working in the stock market and now I recruit to that industry and beyond. 

Whilst I’ve always been a finance type of girl, my real passion lies in health and fitness and for fun I was a fitness instructor on the side for over a decade. This was my passion job and of course one where I wore lots of activewear.

So as you can see my background is mixed, especially now running two businesses which are different from each other.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My usual day starts around 6am. It involves me getting up and making my two little girls their school lunches, making sure all their things are ready to go for the day whilst they are still sleeping.

I’ll then usually check emails that have come in overnight and respond to anything that is urgent across either business whilst I have my coffee.

My girls are usually up after this and they have their breakfast and get ready for school. My hubby who also works from home usually takes them to school each day.

After that I’ll spend an hour doing a workout. That’s either a run on the treadmill or a group fitness class online. I love the Les Mills on Demand App and will do either a step class, body attack, body pump or something else super fun. I like to mix it up depending on what I’m feeling on the day. 

I then sit down at my desk for the day and I’m usually there from about 9am – 2.30pm working across both businesses and it really depends daily what’s happening. I could be packing and organising orders for Idea Athletic, I could be working across recruitment, each day is different.

2.30pm is off to get the girls from school then we have after school activities. Whilst they are at their activities I will usually sneak off to my reformer pilates class and then come back and pick them up.

After that, it’s home, dinner, homework and whatever else we need to get done.

Throughout this time I’ll usually be answering emails on my phone.

After dinner (we eat super early) I will then go back to work for a couple of hours which depends on what’s happening that day.

Then I’ll spend time with my girls, put them to bed, check my emails, watch a little TV and then by 9.30pm I’m in bed myself. Needless to say I sleep really well hahaha.

That is a fairly standard day for me. Lots happening and a lot of juggling but it works (most of the time).

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes absolutely. Working for myself has allowed me a level of flexibility that I am beyond grateful for. I’ve worked for businesses before and whilst at times there has been amazing amounts of flexibility that has been offered, it’s just not comparable to the freedom I have now working for myself.

My day is structured in a way that works best for our family unit. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

It means a lot but I have to be honest and say, I’m currently not very good at this! Working for myself within two businesses and one of them being a startup means this is a pretty challenging thing for me to master, especially right now. 

Idea Athletic is something which I have lived and breathed into every aspect of my life in order to get it off the ground, and we are only just starting out. So in terms of having work life balance, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really difficult. 

I’m one of those people that if I have something to do or something needs to be done or a request comes in late I cannot just leave it to the next day. I’m highly responsive and like to get things done asap. This attitude is great in some aspects but not great for the work / life balance aspect.

Creating a startup was something I knew which would be all absorbing by way of my time but I do hope in the future Idea Athletic can move past this hectic phase as the business builds and evolves and I can work toward striking that balance. 

For now, I’m so lucky to be in this position to bring this solution to the world that I’m just going to roll with it, however hectic it may be.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I’m trying to meditate. I emphasise the word trying here. My brain runs a hundred miles an hour and literally never stops so I am focusing on trying to find that time, even if it is a short 15min block each day to calm the farm which is my brain and just breathe, centre and refocus myself. Gratitude is everything to me and being able to take a moment to feel that is so important. So it is a new habit and certainly one that I’m hoping to get better at over time.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I love to read. Even if it’s only 10 mins every night before I switch the lights off. I’m one of those readers who will read anything and everything.

So what did I last read The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth, One Last Dance by Emma Jane Holmes, Never Greener, by Ruth Jones. These have all been really great books that I’ve read recently, I’d highly recommend all of them actually.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Of course my iPhone 13 Pro is my most used device. The pictures and video quality are just insane. I also love my Apple Watch for many reasons – It allows me to quickly check a text without having to pull out my phone, but my most favourite part of it is the fitness tracking element of course. 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be? 

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. I love her energy, her zest for life and positivity and would love to know how she has done it all. I find her story fascinating and she is an all round inspiring woman and business person. 

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Tell me how to get more of it hahaha! 

When it comes to balance and work life balance in particular, I never feel like anything I do is a chore. With Idea Athletic I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to bring this solution into the world and what has come with that is a sense of excitement and eagerness to want to work hard at it and get it out there.

Yes there have been times where I’m tired or defeated or I’m just plain over it but I haven’t lost sight of what I’m doing and where I want it to go and that excites me and propels me to keep going with it. I’m also driven by my little girls to show them that if you have an “Idea” that you believe in to really go for it.

I’m incredibly fortunate to have an amazing husband and close knit group of family and friends who have supported and encouraged me. It’s so important to find your people, whether it be friends or family. Take the help, take the support they offer but make sure it’s a two way street and you send it back their way as well.

In terms of work, a key lesson I have learnt throughout my life that has always served me well is to always ask questions. If you don’t understand something just ask questions, even if you have to ask the same question over and over until it clicks, just do it. 

Always be kind and positive and stay the hell away from office drama.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.