A conversation with lawyer turned founder of Xavier Athletica, Nikki Lynds-Xavier

It’s always exciting to know about a brand just before it breaks into mass popularity and we at List For Life have caught Xavier Athletica just at the right time. A fitness brand like no other that’s specially catered for men but with a greater emphasis on quality, fit and function!

Run by Nikki Lynds-Xavier, the lawyer-turned-fitness-wear-founder spoke to us about transitioning from the corporate world, business ethics and the changing landscape of the fitness industry.

Check out our chat below and be sure to swing by Xavier Athletica’s website to see all their great products.

1. Can you briefly walk us through your colourful career so far?

I was a solicitor (although technically you remain one, I’ve moved on). I was a litigator and a Partner of a City firm, so I’d done the hours in court and in the office, and I’d earned my stripes. I’d been head hunted by another firm and I decided to take a year out before I started at my new firm. Long story short I got bored and went to work in a brewery for the experience. It was there that I met Sir Gerry Robinson and he talked me into giving up the Law and working instead for him, as his Investment Manager. That role was pretty much as you see him on TV, finding businesses for him to invest in, and helping them turnaround. It was there that I developed the bug for business.

2. What are the three things your business values most above all?

Our Team is number one, without them we would not be where we are today. Number two, it has to be our customers for obvious reasons but also for taking the step of trying a new brand, we really appreciate their support. And finally the opportunity to bring a relatively new concept to the UK – athleisure

3. In what ways did your experience in the corporate world help and hinder your move into the health and wellness industry?

My legal training definitely has helped with negotiating all our contracts. And my corporate experience meant I knew that everything had to be scaleable from the off. It’s not easy convincing companies that are capable of dealing with very large orders, who are used to only dealing with the big boys – to take us on. Getting a foot in the door was hard but then I had to sell the brand to them, and then of course I wanted the same terms as their other customers. I am eternally grateful to those companies who have taken a chance on us.

There have not been many hinderances I don’t think. I’ve been very upfront with people about this being a new thing, and I’ve found the creative industry very welcoming and happy to explain how things work. I suppose as a lawyer I’m very conscious of detail and how much it can matter, so I may take a little longer to do things, so that I’m happy we’ve got it right.

Image credit: Nikki Lynds-Xavier

Image credit: Nikki Lynds-Xavier

4. What has been the most challenging part of your career and, inversely, what has been the most rewarding?

The most challenging should be XA as everything is new, and not a day goes by where I’ve not learnt something but I love it, so it doesn’t feel challenging. And to have built something good from nothing, is very very rewarding. So I think the most challenging was being a solicitor – long hours spent helping other people with their problems, combined with the adrenaline of court advocacy and the competition to make it to the top as partner in what was then a man’s world (96 partners of which 9 of us were women).

5. Have you ever had plans to expand XA into the world of fitness training and events?

We’d like to but its still early days for us (first 6 months). I’d be interested in talking to people in the fitness industry, to explore opportunities but it would have to be the right fit for our brand. We are all about quality.

6. What change in the fitness industry would you like to see in the next 10 years?

We’re an ageing population and staying fit and flexible enough to enjoy life to the full, is going to be key. So the fitness industry needs to take account of that. What we eat will play a big part in that, so reducing sugar and increasing plant fibre will be a focus. A greater understanding of our genetics, so we can make changes in our diet and how we exercise to maximise fitness will become more prevalent. And I’d like to see more people doing yoga and from a younger age, as it’s an activity anyone can do, it helps maintain muscle mass and flexibility.

I remember reading an interview with a New York photographer, who took photographs of people naked…and she said to put them at their ease she would chat to them about their hobbies. She realised that those with the best bodies, young/old, male/female, all had one thing in common – they all did yoga.