Wel­come to the na­tion ... Pip

SHE’S A DRIV­ING FORCE BE­HIND WORK­OUT WARDROBES NA­TION­WIDE. PIP ED­WARDS TALKS WORLD DOM­I­NA­TION, THE ‘NEW FEM­I­NISM’ AND THE POWER OF PI­LATES

Women's Health Australia - - NEWS - By Alex Davies Pho­tog­ra­phy by Steven Chee

P.E Na­tion’s Pip Ed­wards on the new fem­i­nism, and the power of pi­lates

You’d be for­given for think­ing P.E Na­tion had been on the ac­tivewear scene for a decade. In only two years (yep, it launched in 2016), the cult Aus­tralian la­bel has seen more ac­tion than many brands ever do: le­gions of fans in­clud­ing Kayla Itsines; denim and menswear col­lec­tions on top of the sport­sluxe-with-an-ur­ban-edge gear it’s known for; two col­lab­o­ra­tions with Ree­bok (the first sold out in six hours); and not to men­tion the cov­eted 2018 Na­tional De­signer Award. But, this suc­cess is no sur­prise when you con­sider the drive and pas­sion of the woman at the helm, Pip Ed­wards.

Since co-found­ing P.E Na­tion with Claire Tre­go­ning (the friends met while work­ing at la­bel sass & bide), Pip’s con­sol­i­dated her place as one of the most in­flu­en­tial Aussies in the fash­ion-meets-fit­ness space. There are snip­pets of her life on In­sta­gram – the events, work­outs, clothes, beach days with son Jus­tice, 12 – but be­hind the pho­tos is a woman who’s been through as much of a jour­ney as the brand she lives and breathes.

More on that in a mo­ment, but first, let’s talk tat­toos. Pip has nine. The first was Jus­tice’s name on her right foot. There’s a rose on her arm for her grand­mother, a star on her an­kle be­cause she loves stars and, among the rest, the line ‘This must be the place’ – the name of a Talk­ing Heads song that re­minds her of Jus­tice – writ­ten on her left arm.

These arms were a ma­jor talk­ing point at our pho­to­shoot with Pip, 38, at Syd­ney’s Paramount Recre­ation Club. If there was ever an ad for pi­lates, her arms would be it. But her non-ne­go­tiable thrice-weekly ses­sions are about much more than hon­ing a hot bod. “I’d love to do [pi­lates] more,” she says, hold­ing a mug of licorice tea as we chat at P.E Na­tion HQ the day af­ter our shoot. “When I don’t do it, I feel that I’ve not done it and the wheels fall off.”

Pip cred­its her work­outs with Kirsten King at Flu­id­form Pi­lates for help­ing to change her out­look and sense of self. She be­gan see­ing the Syd­ney-based in­struc­tor as part of her re­hab af­ter a shoul­der in­jury in 2017. Be­fore that, Pip’s fit­ness ap­proach was very dif­fer­ent: she went hard. “When I was train­ing, it was ag­gres­sive. It was HIIT, it was cir­cuits, it was weights.”

She says this all-out at­ti­tude stemmed from an up­bring­ing with “more of a mas­cu­line edge”. “My mother’s Pales­tinian and she was brought up in a non-west­ern world where women couldn’t re­ally work; she wasn’t al­lowed to wear pants,” says Pip, who grew up on Syd­ney’s north shore. “She was lucky enough to be ed­u­cated – and was this pi­o­neer­ing woman – so when she had me, she raised me to be in­de­pen­dent. I was go­ing to be the provider, the bread­win­ner, the aca­demic, the achiever: I was to do ev­ery­thing and I wouldn’t stop at any­thing. And I took that to the nth de­gree, some­times to the detri­ment of my fem­i­nin­ity. It was like be­ing a girl was al­most too much of a vul­ner­a­bil­ity, you know?”

It was her shoul­der in­jury, cou­pled with some per­sonal stress, that forced her to con­nect with her fem­i­nine side. “Thank God I had the in­jury, be­cause I was able to con­nect with pi­lates – and [Kirsten’s] holis­tic ap­proach – and it coached me through my body,” she says. “I saw my body trans­form in a way it hadn’t be­fore through any train­ing ... and now I’m ac­tu­ally more wom­anly in my ap­pear­ance, stronger in my core, prouder to be a woman.”

This new ap­pre­ci­a­tion has in­flu­enced her per­sonal life and busi­ness too. “I call it this ‘new fem­i­nism’ of be­ing grace­ful and play­ing to your fem­i­nine guile, which is pow­er­ful but more so if you know how to use it and it’s com­ing from your core strength. Not from ex­ter­nal strength. It was a re­ally beau­ti­ful turn­ing point for me.”

Here, Pip spills on the strong women in her life, build­ing a fit­ness em­pire and why time was never a bar­rier to smash­ing her goals.

DE­SCRIBE THE PE­RIOD SINCE P.E’S LAUNCH.

Whirl­wind, chal­leng­ing, ex­cit­ing. We knew this was a void in the mar­ket, in the sense that Claire and I had noth­ing to wear that sat­is­fied our needs for a busy life, so we thought we [couldn’t be] the only ones. We’re moth­ers, ca­reer women, we love fash­ion, we train. [The la­bel] was an every­day so­lu­tion for the every­day woman. Claire and I have been in the in­dus­try for so long – 17 years each – [that] we weren’t go­ing to set up a brand just for fun. This was to be a busi­ness and it was to be scal­able. So, the ap­proach when we launched was to op­er­ate like we’d been oper­at­ing for a long time. Struc­ture and that at­ti­tude is key.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR PROUD­EST MO­MENT?

Oh, ev­ery bloody day. I’m just so stoked that it’s come to such

a fruition and of course, my team. There isn’t a mo­ment. The mo­ments are when I walk into my pi­lates class and the whole class is wear­ing P.E Na­tion. Or walk­ing down the street and see­ing nu­mer­ous women [in the clothes]. I kind of just go, “Holy shit, how did that hap­pen?”

DO YOU HAVE AD­VICE FOR NEW EN­TREPRENEURS?

I’ll re­it­er­ate, struc­ture. It’s the only key to longevity. And it’s not nec­es­sar­ily the clothes, you know? It’s the op­er­a­tional side be­hind it. Also work with peo­ple who bring strengths that you don’t have. Re­ally iden­tify your weak­nesses and don’t try to do them; you need to bring on the right peo­ple to do that.

WHY DOES YOUR PART­NER­SHIP WITH CLAIRE WORK?

Be­cause we are the op­po­site in our skill set, in some re­spects. The yin to the yang. It was al­ways like that at sass & bide – our work­ing re­la­tion­ship was so rock solid and so un­der­stood. We have the same eye [and] there was never a con­flict over who does what – it was a clear de­lin­eation and it al­ways has been. The hon­esty and the trans­parency’s there, and we also play to our in­di­vid­ual strengths.

WHICH WOMEN IN­SPIRE YOU?

I love my team. I love hav­ing smart, strong, ex­pe­ri­enced women around me be­cause you need to be car­ried, as well. You don’t know ev­ery­thing so I ac­knowl­edge that. My mother, be­cause I couldn’t be here or present in my busi­ness if I didn’t have her to as­sist with man­ag­ing my son. I don’t have a huge net­work at all. It’s re­ally just my work net­work, my fam­ily

and about five friends I can count on one hand. The core. The nu­cleus.

FIT­NESS IS AN IN­DUS­TRY WOMEN ARE DOM­I­NAT­ING. WHY IS THAT?

I think we’re in an age where your voice … is al­lowed to shine, and I think [it’s] a beau­ti­ful time. It should have come a long time ago in terms of feel­ing able to be who you are. But I do think the women who are con­quer­ing at the mo­ment de­serve to con­quer. It’s not be­cause they’re women. I think if you’re killing it or you’re con­quer­ing and you’re suc­cess­ful, you earned the right to be there.

WHAT ELSE DOES 2018 HAVE IN STORE?

Lots more. We’re launch­ing a snow [range], that’s [com­ing out in] Oc­to­ber. I think what’s next is re­ally ex­plor­ing the dis­ci­plines of sport, so get­ting into the box­ing, the yoga, ski­ing … Snow is big for Claire and I be­cause we both love ski­ing. Denim’s a big part of the busi­ness, which speaks again to our her­itage and our strengths pro­fes­sion­ally, com­ing from a denim back­ground. And you know, just more in gen­eral!

ANY MORE BIG COL­LAB­O­RA­TIONS COM­ING UP SOON?

Well, the snow [range] is with DC Shoes, the her­itage snow [and] skate brand from Amer­ica, so that’s a re­ally big one. We’re also do­ing a slide with Su­perga, and then the rest of the big col­labs are hap­pen­ing next year, which we won’t talk about! The big dream would be to crack Amer­ica. To be like a Nike or an adi­das ... to be Aus­tralia’s ver­sion of that would be amaz­ing.

WHAT DOES YOUR TYP­I­CAL DAY LOOK LIKE?

I get up early, like 5:30 or 6am. I sort out my dog, sort out Jus­tice and drop him to school or to my mum’s de­pend­ing on what morn­ing it is.

I go to pi­lates Mon­day, Tues­day, Wed­nes­day, then come into the of­fice. Any­thing from meet­ings to pho­to­shoots to fi­nan­cial bud­gets to plan­ning to prod­uct rang­ing – you name it, it hap­pens all day. I pick up the dog from his doggy day care, pick up Jus­tice, go home, cook, sort out home­work, put him to bed, then [do] more re­search. That’s my cre­ative time. When no one’s around and I’ve got my licorice tea.

“I’VE LEARNT THAT HAP­PI­NESS IS A CHOICE. HAP­PI­NESS IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, ALL THE TIME. IT’S WHETHER YOU WANT TO SEE IT OR NOT”

LET’S TALK FOOD. WHAT’S YOUR AP­PROACH?

In the last year, I’ve leaned to­wards the more ve­gan side of life. I was so busy jug­gling so much that I’d eat what­ever, when­ever, but then put all the pres­sure on train­ing to fix my body. And I think it’s def­i­nitely 80 per cent diet. So, turn­ing slightly ve­gan in terms of ... I still eat eggs ... [and] it’s just the clean­ness of food and the con­scious­ness of think­ing about what’s healthy for my body. That has been a dra­matic change.

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR DOWN­TIME?

I love the beach. I live in Bondi, but my part­ner has a house in Palm Beach, and so ev­ery week­end – I know I’m very lucky – I get my down­time by be­ing on the north­ern beaches. Claire [also] lives up there, and it’s just a bit of a break. You just get out of the hus­tle of the city. I’m driven by the sun, so when­ever I’m in the sun I’m at peace.

DO YOU SURF?

Yeah! Surf, swim ... I was a Lit­tle Nip­per grow­ing up. I love be­ing at the beach and in the wa­ter. I’m a true Aussie coastal girl.

WHAT KIND OF PAR­ENT ARE YOU?

As a sin­gle par­ent [ed’s note: Jus­tice’s fa­ther is Pip’s ex-part­ner, fash­ion de­signer Dan Sin­gle] it’s al­ways a work in progress, and I think you’re al­ways learn­ing. I was def­i­nitely a young mum at

25. You’re talk­ing to me now as a mother that’s come into her own, [but] it took me a re­ally long time to deal with moth­er­hood, es­pe­cially as a work­ing sin­gle mother who had to com­pro­mise or sac­ri­fice a lot of my child’s firsts to sur­vive, or to pay the bills. In say­ing that, my re­la­tion­ship with my son is ev­ery­thing. He’s not just my son but my best friend, my room­mate, my con­fi­dant. And I’ve grown up with him, if you know what I mean.

WHAT DOES THE WORD ‘HAP­PI­NESS’ MEAN TO YOU?

I’ve learnt that hap­pi­ness is a choice. You can ac­tu­ally be happy ev­ery day and I choose hap­pi­ness a lot of the time. Hap­pi­ness is right in front of you, all the time, ev­ery day. It’s whether you want to see it or not.

LASTLY, WHAT’S THE BEST AD­VICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

The grass is greener where you wa­ter it, and where your fo­cus goes, the en­ergy flows. It’s about mak­ing things hap­pen.

P.E Na­tion Stro­ker Ace dress, $249; Camilla and Marc Harper jacket, $750

LEFT P.E Na­tion Man Up jacket, $199, and No Set tank, $99; Lil­lian Khal­louf bralette, $680, and pants, $760; Valentino Logo cuff, $395 @ Par­lour X RIGHT P.E Na­tion Over­time crop, $129, and Com­mit leg­gings, $139

P.E Na­tion Man Up jacket (worn around waist), $199, and Chasse leg­gings, $139; Toni Mat­icevski top, $1650, and long-sleeve top (worn un­der­neath), $995; Louis Vuit­ton train­ers, $1490

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