Heike Schnell – The Loungewear Revolutionist

Heike Schnell – The Loungewear Revolutionist

Ever since we discovered Wellicious, we’ve literally been falling head over heels for their beautiful colour palette, chic easy pieces and luxurious touch. The London based lifestyle brand specialises in gorgeous pieces for Yoga & Pilates as well as loungewear and accessories, that are not only visually appealing but also eco-friendly. With an ethical approach that’s woven through, from the cotton used for their garments through to their stance on fair labour (with all their products made in Europe) there’s more to Wellicious than just looking pretty!

In an increasingly fast paced world it’s rather lovely to take a moment to consider the thoughts behind a more serene brand, so we sat down for a peppermint tea (“A favourite as it is super refreshing on a spring day’”) with Heike Schnell, the inspirational founder of Wellicious. A yoga fanatic, busy mother of three and all round positive mind (“I do not believe in lows. I do believe that sometimes you need to learn lessons to get better, but there is no real low point when you try to make always the best of every situation”) the entrepreneur is a breath of fresh air in an ever frenzied world. It takes a lot of us ladies here at Your Coffee Break to substitute our coffee so you know this is a special encounter.

The brand was founded for a very pragmatic reason: “It was my first yoga class and I fell in love with it, but was slightly frustrated by the lack of fashionable yet comfortable yoga wear available. That was where my true inspiration first came from; I wanted to provide an eco-friendly yoga and Pilates based collection that didn’t lose its style or functionality, which is why Wellicious was created!” Heike tells us. Having suffered equal woes when trying to find attractive sportswear, (why is it all pink?) we understand her frustration and the results of her epiphany are really quite fabulous.

Taking a fresh approach to activewear, Wellicious takes style, femininity and sophistication as the centre of their designs, touching upon trends. “It’s important for us to check the latest trends and be up to date with fashion, but at the same time to see what is still missing within the yoga market in order to find new designs.” Having added a much needed touch of style to our gym ensembles, you can imagine our delight at sitting down and picking Heike’s brains about the brand, the ethos and the making it work with a busy family lifestyle.

Wellicious model picFirstly, what was the idea behind the delectable name?

I woke up at 3AM, in the middle of the night with the business name ‘Wellicious’ in my mind and the business has grown from that point onwards!

When designing for different activities such as Yoga, Pilates or the Gym, what do you consider the most important aspect?

Three aspects come to my mind; comfort, quality and practicality!

What inspires the ethical ethos of your company?

When I was first starting up Wellicious, I travelled to China to start looking at production, however it was soon after my trip that I realised that Wellicious would be a better brand if I considered an eco-friendly and ethical path.

As an eco-friendly brand, we really believe that looking after the environment we work in is key to the happiness of future generations and we also love the fact our customers believe the same. Not only do we care about where our fabrics are produced, we also care for the people who create our garments. With all of our products made in Europe, we do regular checks on our factories to ensure fair labour is in place and the standards of the work places are high quality.

Wellicious has quickly established itself; to what do you owe the success?

In the beginning I didn’t know if the company would quickly establish and what the outcome would be. However with constant hard work and persistence I established the brand and having started at the right time with the right ethos, the Zeitgeist of being eco-friendly and made in Europe, it worked!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

This is a fantastic question – I always wanted to be a doctor, to live and work in Africa in order to help other people who cannot afford expensive doctor visits or medicine. Although I went on to a career in business, Wellicious has the same charitable ethos that I believed in then and therefore we support the charity SOS children’s village in Peru. I chose to help the children of Peru as I have a Peruvian heritage. 

Take us through a typical day in the life of Heike Schnell?

I normally get up around 6am, or when my three daughters wake me up! I believe the best time to wake is around sunrise; the extra hours you gain are simply invaluable and provide me with the chance to do yoga. I practice 20 minutes of yoga, including breathing exercises and meditation, every morning. It increases my daily concentration and allows me to be relaxed for the day ahead.

After the morning school run I head to our Notting Hill office to catch up with the team and have our weekly meetings. I normally grab something fresh from Planet Organic for lunch and then come late afternoon I head back home to prepare dinner for my family. After I put my children to bed, I normally settle down to catch up on any important emails from the day and prepare for the day ahead!

As a mother of three, how do you successfully handle all aspects of your professional and personal life?

I think starting up Wellicious made me realise just how important family time is and now I ensure I always spend the afternoons playing with my children or baking healthy treats. I have a great team at Wellicious who I know I can rely on to keep the business running smoothly when I am out of the office and I think this is so important if you want to find the right balance between working and family. I love spending time with my children and husband, but it’s also important to relax after a busy working week, and I love to have my weekly reflexology massage with Lydia Smith (www.theindigotree.co.uk).

How do you dress for the office?

I mostly wear Wellicious pieces from the current season mixed with previous seasons. That truly is the beauty of Wellicious; it’s so versatile and the high quality means it lasts longer than fast fashion. It can also easily be teamed up with pieces to give a smart office appearance.

Where is your favourite place to practise yoga?

My favourite place is definitely the beach with fresh air and of course a lot of sunshine, which gives me energy and power. When I am in London, I love to practise in the playroom of my children since they love to copy my movements and it has a little teaching effect.

What advice can you give readers who want to start their own business?

My best advice would be to choose your strengths and to focus on them. Go for one product range that you can easily escalate and grow later on when your business becomes successful. Otherwise you end up trying to focus on too many different projects and you can become lost.

What has been a career high point?

Definitely starting my own company and proving that there is a work life balance, even though it is not easy. Yoga helps a lot!

Have you had a moment where you’ve thought, “I’ve made it?” and if yes, when?

Yes, a lot of times, but I believe that success can fade very fast that is why I set myself immediately new goals to never stop working on my dreams and constantly keep a balance and stay happy. I have a great team working in my company; a wonderful family with kids and what else could a woman wish for?

In order to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to…

Be confident! Even though every step may not be perfect and it will most probably be difficult at times, if you really believe in your product you are more likely to succeed. It’s also important to make sure you do not try to cover too much at one time, start the business idea small and then it will become easier to grow once you have started. It is better to have a strong foundation focusing on one idea, which has the potential to grow, rather than a weak base focusing on lots of ideas.

What’s planned for the future of Wellicious?

We have been working with some exciting celebrities in New York and the UK and have had a lot of great feedback about our brand, just recently celebrities Selena Gomez and Naomi Watts have been spotted out in Wellicious! We are also releasing a few new products in AW14, including our favourite lavender eye masks! Stay tuned for more exciting projects which will launch towards the end of the year!

For more information on Wellicious and to view the entire collection, simply visit: www.wellicious.com

Gina Brar

A self-confessed coffee addict, collector of fabulous high heels and a lover of the written word, Gina plans on taking over the world of Fashion Publishing one story at a time. When she’s not shopping for beautiful new finds or devouring the latest catwalk pictures she can usually be found curled up with her favourite novel.