We managed to catch up with Anabel Sexton, the founder of Boudavida a women's sportswear brand which is getting a lot of attention right now - not just for their stylish sportswear but also for their commitment to helping women's sport by donating 5% of profits to women's sport. We found out about the brand, the exciting launches that are coming up for 2018, female empowerment and her love of Billie Jean King.
Her style of cycling is weekend family cycle rides across the Somerset levels, usually ending up meeting friends in a lovely rural pub. Sounds perfect.
Anabel is also offering Hill & Ellis customers £20 of any of their kit with the code BHE20 but hurry as the offer is only valid until the end of May.
1. How & why did you start the Boudavida (great name by the way)?
The idea for Boudavida came about when I read that there are so many women out there who are put off exercising because they feel too self conscious in what they are expected to wear. As a result they aren’t exercising at all. I felt there was room in the market for a brand that produces sympathetically styled activewear that makes women feel good about their bodies, and therefore inspired to get active. I wanted the women who wore my brand to feel bold and brave so I named it after the original bold, brave and physically active woman - Boudicca - the Queen of the Iceni tribe.
2. Boudavida gives 5% of all profits to back women’s sport. What’s the most exciting project you have got involved with so far?
We decided to create a bit of a virtuous circle by investing back in the women’s sport market (unlike many brands who sell leggings to women and channel much of their profits into sponsoring male footballers!) One of the most exciting projects that we have supported so far is the young GB cyclist Lauren Dolan. We identified her when she was only just on the radar of the GB squad and she applied to us for funding to replace the wheel on her racing bike which was damaged after a spectacular crash. Not only did we manage to raise money for her, but we have since been following her progress and were so excited when she was selected as part of the GB squad. She’s the gutsiest athlete we’ve ever met! Definitely one to watch!
3. 2018 started with the Golden Globes being dominated by female empowerment and that speech by Oprah Winfrey. Do you think there is a change afoot for equality and “girl power” and what do you think needs to change in women’s sport?
There’s definitely a change afoot for equality. The great news is that equality and feminism are no longer the dirty words that they used to be. People are far more willing to have the conversation compared with, say ten years ago, when being a feminist was looked down on. The sports industry has been male dominated since sports were first codified in the 19th century. It’s the way it has always been, so there is a lot of work to be done. For me the biggest change needs to come from the media. If more women’s sports are covered by TV and in the press, then advertisers and sponsors will sign up in order to get brand exposure. That generates prize money for the competitors which would enable female athletes to give up their day jobs and turn professional. That in turn would attract more women which would improve the standards, which would then generate a bigger following, making it something that the media would want to cover. And so it goes around. It’s certainly not a quick fix, but there are enough men and women on the case now trying to improve things that I’m more confident than ever that we are making progress.
4. What exciting developments can we expect to see from Boudavida this year?
I’m really excited about our products for 2018. We are going to continue with some of our best sellers from 2017, plus we are introducing some amazing new fabrics and designs. I am particularly excited about our Scapri which is a combination of a Skirt and a Capri pant. It’s perfect for everything from hockey to tennis, to running. I’m also looking forward to launching our first ultra-lightweight Packable Mac.
5. Do you have a range for the cyclists amongst us?
While we don’t have a dedicated range for cyclists, we have produced some separates that are absolutely perfect for cycling (and we tested them on Lauren Dolan). Our new stretchy waterproof Spark Jacket is probably the best for cycling, as it is shaped to sit longer at the back than the front and it has slightly longer sleeves to enable riders to reach the handle bars. We were also delighted to see Louise Minchin on breakfast TV doing a cycling feature with Alistair Brownlee whilst wearing our Resolve Jacket.
6. What is your favourite Hill & Ellis bag? (www.hillandellis.com/shop)
I love the Hill & Ellis collection - my favourite is definitely the Professor bag in navy with tan straps. It’s such a classic!
7. If you could be any sportswomen in history who would you be?
I would have to be Billie Jean King. It’s funny because at the time I was a much bigger fan of Chrissie Evert in her pretty dresses and frilly knickers, but now, looking back on it I would love to have been the person that fought for and won equal prize money for men and women at Wimbledon. Billie Jean King’s legacy stretches so much further than her own tennis results.
8. As a female entrepreneur do you have a top tip or tips for daily success that you could share with us?
Being a female entrepreneur usually involves an awful lot of juggling, whether it’s the kids or an existing job, or just general every day admin, and the truth is you can’t do it all! (There - I’ve said it!) Some things will have to give. So my best advice is to cut yourself some slack if you didn’t manage to get to the supermarket for the third day in a row. It’s not the end of the world. At the beginning I would tell myself ‘you can only do as much as you can do’, and I’d consciously give myself permission not to beat myself up about it.
Also, get enough sleep!
Don't forget to take advantage of their £20 off offer by visiting their website - https://www.boudavida.com/activity