Founder, Lexie Sport, aged 26
As the only interviewee in plain jeans and a T-shirt, Lily Rice was accepted at Central Saint Martins to do a foundation course. “I had a keen interest in fashion when I was a teenager through magazines and the same university kept cropping up in all the articles so I decided that this must be the one to go for,” she explains. She then continued her studies by doing a performance sportswear design course at Falmouth University, and was the only student in her year to graduate with a first.
A four-month stint working for Sri Lanka Fashion Week followed, before Rice was headhunted by sportswear brand Umbro, where she spent a year designing kits and trainingwear for some of the world’s biggest football clubs. “I always wanted to start my own brand and there was a huge gap in the market for aesthetically led women’s sportswear designed by women,” says Rice. It led her to apply for the BBC3 show Be your own Boss with her brand Lexie Sport, which she launched in August 2013. The producers were so impressed with her idea that she appeared on the show and gained Richard Reed, founder of the Innocent smoothie drinks company, as an investor.
Lexie Sport has seven stockists, including its own transactional website. Debra Hepburn, founder of Young British Designers, which stocks Lexie Sport, says: “Lily is one of a handful of designers who we’ve taken on without actually seeing final samples. She kept us informed at every stage, created a brand to believe in that filled a very credible market gap. “