An interview with Tamara Hill Norton, Founder and Creative Director of Activewear Brand, Sweaty Betty.
Sweaty Betty was founded on a mission to empower women through fitness, providing activewear that would help make women feel both powerful and beautiful, and since its inception over 20 years ago, the brand has fast grown into one of the largest international sportswear brands.
Last week, we had the opportunity to interview dynamic entrepreneur Tamara Hill-Norton, Founder and Creative Director of Sweaty Betty about the women’s activewear line and ask her some of our communities burning questions. Here’s how the interview went down.
What has been your most favourite race you have taken part in and why?
It’s really hard to choose, so I’m going to name two. There was the Worthing Triathlon which I loved as we swam in the sea (I love doing this), ran along the beach and cycled along the downs. The landscape was just beautiful and I love being by the ocean, so this was a really special race for me. I also loved the Windsor Triathlon in 2012, they had to cancel the swimming portion of this race as the Thames was too high, so I could wear our Union Jack Leggings for the whole race. This made me feel incredible, people were cheering me on due to my leggings — which really spurred me on.
Who do you race or train with?
I run every Monday with our office run club, which really spurs me on to train. I also train weekly with my swim team, who I’ve become really good friends with, we’ve developed a real community there.
What is your favourite way to exercise/keep fit and what is your weakness? Also what is your guilty pleasure? PS thank you for designing great running wear that is also practical. I love that my phone fits in the back pocket of the leggings! Life changing!
Thank you so much! I try to do some sort of exercise every day, whether that’s an hour of swim training, our office run club or a yoga class. This is my switch off time and self-care moment so it’s really important for me to schedule it in. I’ve found I really know what works for me, so instead of making big changes I do and try new studios when I can, I recently tried SolidCore in New York and I love reformer Pilates at Heartcore, it’s so good for toning.
Nordstrom’s Dark Sea Salt and Caramel Chocolate is my weakness, so that and a good cocktail are definitely a guilty pleasure of mine.
What are your top tips for juggling life in general?
I realised years ago, that you will never have enough time, you have to make time to do the things you want to do. So I make sure I schedule in fitness for ‘me time’ and dinners with my girlfriends. Fitness has also been huge for me in maintaining a life balance, I discovered yoga about a year into Sweaty Betty and it was a huge game changer for me, I love how you just focus on your breath for an hour with no distractions.
What would you say to your 18 year old self if you could?
It doesn’t really matter if you don’t have a specific path to follow right now. You’ve just left school and are about to go travelling around the world, then you’re going to university to study languages. Don’t worry that you don’t want to be a teacher or translator, you will end up doing something you are passionate about that has nothing to do with your degree.
In your mind and when you started your firm what kind of woman were you imagining? A super sporty one, a mum who was trying to get back into fitness, a working woman who would hit the gym after work? I love your brand and would love to know what your inspiration is.
My mission when I started Sweaty Betty was to empower all women through fitness and beyond. In 1998 there was nowhere on the high street offering good-quality, female sportswear. Activewear for women just wasn’t a thing, it was all about big, male-oriented sportswear stores with a tiny area in the corner for us. So, I wanted to curate and create clothes for women who lived an active lifestyle that made them feel powerful and beautiful. I’m really proud that we design clothes for any woman who lives an active lifestyle and likes to look and feel good, you’ll find everyone from girls my teenage daughters’ age to my Mum in our pieces.
Do you prefer wearing a visor or a cap when exercising?
Both are great, though I am a huge fan of our Swiftie Cap for running. It’s my go-to in the summer as it’s really protective, but ultra-lightweight so it feels like you aren’t wearing anything. I’ve also been known to wear it on a bad hair day in the office!
Can you recommend the best high waisted leggings and running bras that don’t chafe
The Power Leggings are my favourite high waisted leggings, they are really versatile and high in elastane content so are super stretchy. It’s like you’re putting on an amazing pair of sculpted underwear to hold you up. You put them on and you realise, oh my God, they look amazing and they’re so comfortable. If I was to choose one of our running bras it would be the All Train Bra, it’s really supportive but the edges are bonded instead of stitched, which means it doesn’t chafe at all.
Do you test all new garments, fabrics and accessories yourself before launch?
One of the things I’m proudest of is that our all-female team designs and tests every single piece in-house. I try and test out as much as I can especially our ski and running pieces, but we make sure that every garment is tried and tested by a number of women to check the fit and performance is perfect. We’ve even been known to stand under a shower in our coats to make sure they’re waterproof.
Racecheck is a web and app community helping recreational athletes find, book and plan great endurance events through the power of race reviews, while also helping organisers promote their races to a highly relevant audience.