Lily Rice - She/Her
Freelance Sportswear Designer
Lily Rice dresses Lionesses, Olympians and World Champions. With over 10 years of international design, production and brand experience, Lily is an accomplished, award-winning designer who has worked on both bespoke collections and mass-market consumer wear at sportswear’s highest levels. She creates garments that women really want, making a positive impact in the life of the wearer and on the world of sport - helping women to defy gender stereotypes and social norms, make inspiring role models, and show men and women as equals. She has won many awards, including most recently Designer of the Independent's "best sustainable running clothes for 2021" and over all winner & 220 triathlons "best in test cycling jersey".
Please tell us about your career
The sportswear industry is rapidly changing, not just in terms of trend and design but in helping to support women to go further in sport. By creating kit that allows women to have a more level playing field we can open up a formerly closed arena. Just look at what the England women football team has already achieved. Women that play sport go on to lead in other areas, creating ripples of change that can touch so many women globally. We can also impact industries environmentally and I have been so lucky to work with educated clients who want to create change in a very toxic and polluting sector, collaborating on more sustainable practices and collections.
I have always been incredibly passionate about fashion and creativity. As someone who is dyslexic I find it very natural to communicate through design. Matching my two interests of sport and fashion has allowed me to pursue a career I really love. I started my career with a foundation in art and design at Central Saint Martins, following this with a BA in Performance Sportswear Design.
Due to my ND I always felt limited in regards to academics. Being able to articulate opinions in writing is difficult for me and entering an arena that’s formal like politics would be a huge challenge. But I feel like I can make change with my creative abilities and I’m really excited and proud of this. As a country I think we are facing uncertain times, but personally I am optimistic in regards to my career and look forward to many more years helping to be part of a positive change. I want to work with more inspirational people on impactful projects.
How has being Neurodivergent shaped the direction of your career?
I’ve always been someone who wanted to speak up for injustice. But being neurodivergent made it feel impossible for me to be an academic or political in the formal sense. Instead design and art came more naturally. I invested my passion and focus into design and learnt to channel my voice through this new medium.
Now with over 10 years international design, production and brand experience I am an accomplished, award-winning designer who has worked on both bespoke collections and mass-market consumer wear at sportswear’s highest levels. I am passionate about creating the garments that women really want, making a positive impact in the life of the wearer and on the world of sport.
I create sportswear that not only graces the covers of Vogue, outsells its competitors and wins global awards but changes the world and all while still creating spelling mistakes!
Do you feel that your job/industry is a good fit for an ND woman?
I am so lucky to be able to work in an industry where I am valued for my creative abilities. As a freelancer, I am solely responsible for my communications and accounts, however working for myself means I can set the pace and use tools to support me in areas that I feel I need it. As a creative, I can also talk about being ND and feel comfortable to do so. Obviously I’ve also had less than pleasant experiences, I struggle with spelling and reading (I often pronounce words incorrectly for example) and this isn’t always great in office settings but I’ve learnt to navigate this and educate those around me to the reasons why I work the way I do.
What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?
Have confidence. Men do. Woefully under qualified, under achieving men wander through life believing they can do anything. My ability to spell 'orange' in no way impedes my ability to be bloody fantastic at my job (unless the client really wants an orange pair of leggings designed, but hey that's what spellcheck is for!). Surround yourself with other women who will support you in low moments and be each other’s cheerleaders.