HOW I MAKE IT WORK...
IN 2008, EDWINA ROBINSON FOUNDED FASHION LABEL AJE WITH BEST FRIEND ADRIAN NORRIS. AS HALF OF ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S MOST SUCCESSFUL DESIGN DUOS, SHE REFLECTS ON BALANCING FRIENDSHIP WITH BUSINESS
Aje’s Edwina Robinson on working with mates.
When Adrian [Norris] and I met through friends 13 years ago, it felt like falling in love. Not romantically, but like falling in love with a friend that you know you’ll have forever. We just seemed to fit.
Years later, Adrian owned a high-end boutique in Noosa and I was working for a fashion magazine in Sydney when he called and needed advice on a few things. We started collaborating and decided to create something special. That was the birth of fashion label Aje.
Coming from different backgrounds has definitely affected our designs. Adrian studied at a prestigious fine arts school in Venice and I’ve always been into styling, but it’s this contrast that makes us work. Sometimes I can go a little bit too high fashion and creative and Adrian has to rein me in.
Our clothing is all about mixing tough and feminine, urban and coastal. In different stages of our lives one of us has gone one way creatively, while the other has headed in the opposite direction. When Adrian’s in a happier place, his designs are softer and more flowing and then I bring the rock component, and vice versa. We’ve always understood it’s those two elements combined that brings the magic. We balance each other out.
Working together has made our friendship a lot deeper – a little bit like how a marriage makes a relationship deeper. We’ve been through many ups and downs – personal and business – and it’s really nice to know that you have this person by your side no matter what.
We celebrate little triumphs, but there have also been big milestones, like our first fashion parade in Sydney’s Martin Place and when Myer came knocking on our door in 2015. Sometimes Adrian and I celebrate with dinner and champagne, but otherwise going home with a happy heart is celebration in itself.
When it comes to disagreements, we deal with them better than we used
to – he would shout and I would flee. In the heat of the moment you obviously get frustrated with each other, but now we just breathe through it.
Last year we opened our ninth store in Australia and now we’re working on our resort collection. If I didn’t have Adrian by my side, Aje would not be where it is today. I don’t know what it would be like to do it on my own, but I definitely don’t want to find out.