Deborah Symond, Mode Sportif, Australian entrepreneur, success story

Luxe leisurewear e-tailer, Mode Sportif has gone from strength to strength since its founder, Deborah Symond (daughter of one of Australia’s most high-profile businessman, Aussie Homes Loans founder John Symond), launched the business in 2013.

Initially a blog, Symond transformed Mode Sportif into an online boutique to cater for the growing demand for cool, chic active and weekend wear. And she hasn’t looked back.

We caught up with the stylish entrepreneur to chat about about everything from the best advice she’s even been given to the up-and-coming athleisure trends.

What inspired you to create Mode Sportif?

A photo posted by Mode Sportif (@modesportif) on

A passion for a combination of e-commerce, retail and fashion drove me to identify a major gap in the market. There was no one-destination for athleisure, and I knew I could build something amazing and make it a world first. I saw my opportunity and jumped on it.

What was the first step you took toward making your idea a reality?

Research, and a lot of it. I travelled, read (a lot) and met with many inspiring people. From there, I developed my business case and Mode Sportif was born.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced since launching the website?

Technology – it can be unpredictable and often elements are out of my control. It has taken some time to get used to. While technology can be an obstacle, it is also one of our biggest opportunities.

What do you think is the secret to your success?

Passion and drive.

How involved are you in the day-to-day business?

A photo posted by Deborah. (@deborah.symond) on

Very! I oversee every aspect of the business and no two days are alike. Whether it’s developing new technology, buying product, digital marketing, content creation, recruitment, training, team building or dispatch. I wear a lot of hats and I absolutely love it. I have built an amazing team to support our business development and growth. I am very lucky.

What has been the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Follow your gut instinct. It hasn’t let me down yet!

What are your top three tips for someone who is looking to start their own business?

  1. You must believe in your vision. I mean, really believe in it.
  2. You have to do your research and have a strong business case to support your concept.
  3. You can’t be the best at everything. Build a team who work well together and compliment one another’s strengths and weaknesses.

What would you say is the best and worst part of your job?

I run a business that is open 24 hours a day. In one breath it’s sensational because of the possibility it brings, but it does make it difficult for me to ever switch off.

If you could pass on advice to your 20-year old self, what would it be?

Notice everything – always be interested and ask endless questions. You can learn so much from every environment you step into!

Who do you look up to and admire?

My parents are people I admire very much – their values, drive and business success are an inspiration to me daily.

What is your advice on a healthy work/life balance?

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I’m definitely still working on this. I’ve learnt that if you work 24/7, you will eventually burn out. My advice is to take time for yourself everyday. I use training as meditation for my body and mind – no phones, no computers. I’m completely unplugged for an hour a day. I also suggest having some rules for working at home – a healthy work/life balance will result in greater productivity.

What is your own food and fitness philosophy?

I try and be balanced in my food and fitness regime. I try to never to deprive myself – moderation is key. I like to mix up my workouts and do combination of Personal Training and Hot Yoga. I also swear by bone broth and try to have a cup a day!

What key athleisure/active wear trends do you foresee for 2016?

1. Technical Fabrications: Compression fits and flattering lines. Brands like LNDR, Lucas Hugh and Monreal London are creating leggings, shorts and crops in gorgeous circular knits. A more luxurious look, this fabrication combines fashion and function perfectly.

2. High Waisted: From Kengi to the street style set, leggings are rising higher and we are showing a little more skin. Two piece sets are trending in tonal hues and coordinating crops.

Related article: 9 statement sweatshirts to add to your wishlist.

3. The Statement Logo: We are making a retro statement with some of our favourite labels like Calvin Klein and Kenzo. Cult logos and graphic motifs are a must-have on sweaters, tees and accessories.

The lines between active wear and daywear are more blurred than ever. What are your top three tips for styling this look?

A photo posted by Deborah. (@deborah.symond) on


1. Layer your look. Add an element of style when leaving the studio and work your look with a leather jacket, logo sweater or cool vest.

Related article: How to style your favourite white sneakers.

2. Invest in cool kicks. Whether you like cult styles like Stan Smiths or statement sneakers like Pierre Hardy, a stylish shoe will elevate your look.

3. Go tonal. Choose grey, navy and black hues for a chic transition from studio to street.

How do you see Mode Sportif evolving over the next few years?

A photo posted by Deborah. (@deborah.symond) on


For Mode, it’s all about the complete customer experience. Omni-channel retailing is critical to remain a market leader and provide the ultimate experience at every touch point of the customer journey. We are opening our first boutique in July [pictured above], and have a number of exciting developments to come. Watch this space!

Quick Questions:

First thing I do in the morning: Open my eyes and take a deep breath!

Last thing I do at night: Read – it calms my mind and helps me sleep.

Most people probably don’t know this about me, but: I used to be a dance teacher.

The one place I’d never wear yoga pants: I wear leggings a lot, like A LOT! But, there is a time and a place. The obvious answer for me here is a black tie ball!

If I were a fruit or vegetable I’d be: A 30 second quiz on Google just told me I would be an orange. I’d rather be something exotic like a Mangosteen, so let’s go with that!

If sugar were a superfood, my diet would consist of: Coconuts, berries, watermelon. I would likely be a fruitarian.

I never leave home without: Glasses and my iPhone.

I’m inspired by: Everything and everyone.

My favourite emoji is: The unicorn of course.

My pet peeve is: Negativity.