Today, sitting amongst a showroom filled with PE Nations latest collection, Pip is feeling empowered, refreshingly open, honest and ready to let the world in on exactly who she is.
An only child, Pip was born to a mother of Palestinian descent and a lawyer father. “Mum, in her youth was featured in Time Magazine as one of the first women to ever drive a car in Egypt. She was quite a little pioneer in her own way; she grew up in a time when females didn’t really have a place and she always fought for women’s rights and independence. I think for me, as the only child that also happened to be a girl, that came through to the point where she brought me up to be like a man.” Ironic then that today, now in peak physical and mental shape, Pip has shed the family lineage of boys prioritising girls and set aside the masculine in an effort to find her true feminine self. And she dedicates her new found strength and nurtured fragility to Pilates.
While she’s not out there burning bras, this full time single mother-cum-imperial queen of street-meetssportswear knows exactly where she’s at and exactly where she’s headed. She’s shattered glass ceilings and picked up the pieces with her bare hands; and she thanks every lesson learned and every instinctive step she’s taken over the course of her career for today’s success. You see, today, she’s got steadfast experience, a pure passion for her dream and an unwavering focus driven by sheer survival. And no, it’s not been an overnight success story.
Before her well renowned stint at Tsubi or her ‘school of fashion’ as she fondly refers to it, Edwards garnered a commerce law degree at Sydney University, was headhunted by Price Waterhouse Coopers for a role in Risk Management and Corporate Restructuring prior to the completion of her degree and simultaneously worked under her “greatest mentor” fashion maestro and Marcs Founder Mark Keighery, as the muse for Marc’s diffusion line Baby Doll. You see, that’s the thing about Edwards; she has this innate ability to shine across multiple platforms at any one time, and it’s nothing short of incredible.
She’s intellectually smart meets street smart: throw in a dash of social media and she’s almost a movement in herself. But we digress. In the midst of the Tsubi glory days Edwards gave birth to son Justice, with then partner and Tsubi Co-Founder Dan Single. Upon separating from Single, and with a one year old to care for, Edwards left Tsubi armed with experience across brand activation, community engagement and demand; and a burning purpose to provide for her child. A tenure at sass & bide saw her move from visual merchandising to accessories design and onto a senior role where she worked closely with Heidi Middleton. But it was her serendipitous connection with another sass & bide colleague, Claire Tregoning, which would mark a significant turning point in both girls lives some eight years later. But there was more to learn before that undertaking.
During her tenure at GPs, the idea for PE Nation was born and the partnership between Edwards and Tregoning solidified. “I had to work full time at General Pants to pay bills, be a mum during the afternoon/evening and work overnight until three AM on PE for over a year.” While Tregoning designed, Edwards sold the dream to manufacturers and retailers. She successfully cold called Net-a-Porter, and contacted everyone she knew. “If you don’t ask you don’t get but I had earned my right to ask and I understood the protocol, the hierarchy and earning your stripes.” With General Pants blessing Edwards slowly reduced her hours as interest in PE burgeoned.
It started with a name and the name set the tone; not only because they were Edwards’ initials, the brand spoke to her aesthetic. “Everything about PE was (business partner) Claire and I. The pillars of the brand represent the mum that juggles, the fashion enthusiast, the career girl; she needs to be fit, she’s strong.The pillars are us.”
The brand resonates because the product speaks to all those pillars, but it’s the flavour that invokes people and that flavour is Edwards and Tregoning. “It’s the way it’s styled, it’s the personality, we’re not adopting anyone else’s vision. It took a lot of confidence, but I’d been selling the dream for everyone else, why could I not do it for myself? It had to work.” PE Nation launched in 2016 with fifty retailers. Her experience had brought her to this point, but Edwards had never thought ‘local’. “It was always going global and we set it up to scale. With two mortgages and a child at school it was more than a dream, it had to happen, and this was survival.”
With son Justice by her side, this mother continues to soar with pure purpose. “The business is everything for me and my son and he’s with me every step of the way. He has become my best friend and protector and all I want to do is give back to him. A single mum will always feel that struggle, but I’ve got an opportunity to show him what women can do, how to treat women, what love is, in this new modern way– that’s a major social responsibility and he’s seeing women work hard. For me, it’s for Justice. It’s JustUs.”