Pip Edwards is experiencing something of a professional renaissance. She has long been a respected fixture in the Australian fashion industry, working her creative magic behind the scenes for brands like Sass & Bide, General Pants and Ksubi, but her most recent adventure has seen to step into the spotlight – joining forces in 2016 with long-term friend and collaborator Claire Tregoning to start her own street-meets-athleisure label, P.E. Nation. One look at her Instagram account and you can see why this was such a natural next-step for the mother-of-one; fitness, fashion and plenty of beach-time feature heavily.
Customers and the industry alike are signing up, with P.E. Nation recently expanding into menswear, collaborating with Reebok and taking out both the 2018 National Designer’s Award, as well as the Etihad Airways Emerging Talent Award at the Australian Fashion Laureate Awards in 2017. When she’s not wearing denim or activewear, Pip has a natural affinity for statement-making pieces and high-fashion accessories so we encouraged her to take the lead on this shoot, styling herself in our new season arrivals. The results? Well – you can see for yourself. Read on to discover the driving forces behind Australia’s newest rising fashion star.
You’ve worked in-house for a number of Australia’s most recognisable and loved brands… What’s the biggest change now being ‘the boss’?
There are definite pros and cons (lol). It’s great that the initial vision and purpose of the P.E. Nation concept doesn’t get diluted, as the buck stops with me. However, the responsibility that comes with that which is enormous. That’s why it’s so great to have my business partner, Claire Tregoning, by my side to brainstorm these decisions to make the best educated call and own it. I’ve been fortunate enough to gather a lot of working knowledge from my career stints – a good 15 years in the industry has served me well – however, there are always fashion curve-balls so it’s a mix of gut, experience, and vision that gets you through.
Was starting your own label always on the agenda?
I never really wanted my own brand. I did start a few little passion projects over the years on the side whilst working, but the thought of running a business was not ever appealing. It became a no-brainer with P.E Nation, as the vision and concept was so clear and given my industry knowledge and experience, I knew I was finally equipped to do it. P.E Nation is the solution for all women. Women like me, who are juggling work, life, home, motherhood… who love fashion and follow global trends, who love to train, whose style is street-based and tomboy-ish. P.E Nation was developed to get you through your day with minimal effort, maximum comfort, whilst being fully functional and fashion-approved.
Describe your relationship with your P.E. Nation co-founder Claire Tregoning…
Claire and I met at Sass & Bide. Claire was senior designer and I was senior creative. We sat next to each other every day, and this working relationship went on for around four years. We understood and respected each other’s strengths and weaknesses and most importantly, shared the same eye for detail and style. We know each other inside out and understand each other’s working abilities and ethics so well; we are literally yin and yang. We are both creative directors and we build the creative brief and vision for the brand together – we are on the same page when it comes to direction, colour palette, prints and silhouettes and styling. Claire then manages the design and product team, and I manage the marketing, PR, sales and online team. However, we are BOTH across all areas of the business, not just because we have to be, but because we want to be.
How would you describe your style MO?
I do prefer a more undone, lo-fi, street vibe but I am deeply passionate about designer brands. When I select designer pieces, I pick the more casual pieces and mix them back with denim, trainers and tees to make the look be more natural and effortless. I don’t have much time to get dressed every day, so it really is down to my schedule. But it all starts from the feet up!!!! Hahahaha.
How long have you worked in the Australian fashion industry for?
I have been working in fashion since I was 18 – from retail whilst studying at university. I then took a break from fashion and worked at Price Waterhouse Coopers in Risk Management for three years before coming back to fashion when I turned 24. So I have been in and around fashion for 20 years, but with a solid 15 years of working knowledge within some of the best Australian brands.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Setting up the structure of a business is the greatest challenge and a moving target. Staffing and systems and process, especially within the growth phase of a start-up, can be a constant juggle. Know your business. Trust your gut as no one knows your business better than you.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given?
Know your customer. Know them inside out: what they do, where they go, why they shop. Understand their lifestyle and activities of choice and this will help determine what they need, and why. It is this behaviour that ultimately impacts your product offering. Your brand is nothing without your customer.
Do you have any mentors?
I have had a few mentors along the way and have worked with and currently work with some awesome people. It’s the people you surround yourself with that allows you to grow and learn, and it’s always a work in progress. The best reality check is to know your strengths and own up to your weaknesses, and play to both. It’s good to have a few sounding boards for different areas of the business. Ultimately each business is different and so cross-checking what others have done and interpreting that for your own business is so, so key. The more knowledge, the more information and the more we share about business experiences is what ultimately makes for a better business, and an overall better industry.
As well as being a business entrepreneur, you’re also a fitness lover + a mother of one. How do you manage the juggle?
Ha!! Sometimes I’m really terrible at the juggle. I do have the amazing help of my parents and partner to get me through. I’d be nothing without them. One of my non-negotiables is my fitness regime. I never compromise that. It keeps me sane and happy, so it is always worked into my schedule.
What are the top 3 items on your must-buy list for the season ahead?
The Balenciaga denim jacket. The Valentino Rockstud sandals. The Céline scarf jumper. The list actually goes on this season as there is so much goodness… the Isabel knit trackies, the Balenciaga flats, the Fendi striped knit… !!!!!!!
What kind of boss to you think you are/try to be?
I am a pretty fair and fun boss but I do expect that everyone does their job as diligently and with as much passion as myself. My staff get a lot of autonomy in their roles, so I expect them to truly own what they do, as they are hired as “experts” in their role. I know I don’t know everything, but I know what the end result is to be, and I know there is only one way to get there… and that is to work together and align with common goals and be the best we can be, collectively.
Shot on location at the Presidential Suite, at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.