How to run an amazing pop-up: Lexie Sport

Lily Rice is the founder of stylish sportswear brand Lexie Sport. Her designs have graced the pages of Vogue, she’s teamed up with Virgin Active to get more people into an active lifestyle, and she’s also run several successful pop-ups.

Lexie Sport actually launched from a pop-up on Kings Road, before going on to set up pop-ups at startup hub Boxpark, various gyms, and more. Their most recent venture was a pop-up ‘health hub’ in Old Street in January/February 2015 that saw Lexie Sport collaborate with other startups to stock healthy snacks, host fitness classes by female trainers, and generally to turn selling their sportswear a product into an even more positive and exciting event. Here are Lily’s tips for making a pop-up work for your business.

Small budget? No problem

“Our health hub at Old Street had basically no budget,” says Lily. “All our pop-ups have been done on a shoestring. However, because we’ve done a few now, we have a streamlined set-up. Our equipment and furnishings are things from IKEA that we can assemble and dissemble easily. Check out sites such as Appear Here for low-priced pop-up venues. Working with other startups in the short-term also helped, as our trainers were happy to volunteer in order to get some promotion.”

lexie 2

Make it more than a selling experience

“When you set up a physical shop, it’s like having a website and just waiting for people to come to you,” Lily explains. “Make a pop-up more than this – really use your space and think about what different things you can do with it to get attention. You only have it for a limited time, so you’re not restricted as much. Get creative and try out things to make it a unique experience for all your shoppers.

“For example, our last pop-up was in January – a time when lots of people are thinking about health and making new resolutions. By incorporating free exercise classes as well as displaying our goods, focussing on wellbeing and making it an overall experience, we caught people’s attention.”


“As well as working with volunteer fitness instructors from other businesses, we got as many other startups involved as we could,” says Lily. “Whether it was stocking their product or helping us out in some way, we offered them a chance to involved with our concept and promote their own business. I’m always bowled over at what people will give you for free if you just ask for help.”

Get to know your consumers

“Pop-ups are great because they tend to get more attention across social and the press, which gets you in front of a potential audience first-hand,” advises Lily. “Our pop-up meant that potential customers could come in and try the clothes, and feel more confident going forward about ordering online. Getting to meet your customers first-hand is also a great opportunity to make new connections and find out what they think.”

lexie 3

Be flexible

“We found out that we had the space two weeks before the pop-up would launch, which meant we had to act quickly,” says Lily. “The space was literally opposite the ticket barriers at Old Street station, so there was no way we could turn it down – thousands of people would be exposed to the brand every day. If you can find a way to make it work, make it work!"

Be prepared

“It’s easy to underestimate how draining running a pop-up can be, between the preparation, short notice, and long hours,” explains Lily. “Because it’s only for a few weeks (or even days), it’s tempting to go all out. But look after yourself by asking for help from friends, family or fellow startup owners to see if anyone can give you a hand. Give yourself all the prep time you’re able, and in the excitement don’t forget about logistics such as bringing enough stock!”

Get the Virgin StartUp Business plan