MC: What was your original vision for P.E Nation when you launched in 2016?
PE: I came up with the idea with [co-founder] Claire [Tregoning]. We really started with the name, which is my initials, and a common term for physical education. We used that as a hook and played to our own attitude and style, as working mums who love fashion and are fitness enthusiasts. Our premise was always: every woman, every day.
MC: We’ve just done a Women In Business survey of small business owners and the main reasons women started businesses were to have more flexibility, work-life balance and to be their own boss. What was the driving factor for you?
PE: I’d worked with three iconic Australian brands – Ksubi, Sass & Bide and General Pants – and I’d gotten a bit beaten down by the whole system. I knew the industry inside and out, the dynamics and the processes. I decided I needed to do something for myself.
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MC: How has P.E Nation grown in the last three years?
PE: The growth has been quite exponential; we’ve just kept growing and growing. We’ve moved office five times to keep up and have a team of 25 at head office now. We just closed the books for FY18/19 and we turned over $20 million.
MC: Incredible! What do you credit your success to?
PE: I can tell you, it’s not luck. There's a great skillset within the business, loads of combined working knowledge and history. It’s also about timing and authenticity; having a voice that speaks to real people. There’s a realness about the brand.
MC: Speaking of authenticity, how much of a role has social media played in your success?
PE: It was everything, basically. I had a small following when we started, and I used to test the product on them to gauge interest. Obviously, it just catapulted from there. Now when we post something, sales spike. Our business is pretty much 50 per cent from our Instagram.
MC: What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
PE: I always say product is king. Without the product, we don’t have a business. You must back your products. Second to that, I say, know your numbers. Financial management is key. I’m an accountant by trade, and I’m in the numbers all the time. Those numbers feed every decision we make. When we make a decision it’s 50 per cent feeling and 50 per cent numbers. As a business owner, I also believe you’ve got to live and breath what you do. This isn’t just work, it’s my life.
MC: So what does a day in life of Pip Edwards look like?
PE: There’s no such thing as an average day [laughs]. It can go from a trade meeting, to a board meeting, to a photo shoot, to an interview, to a plane, to sitting with Claire designing a look-book. It is very day-to-day, which can be unsettling, to be honest. It’s hard travelling a lot because I disconnect from the heartbeat [of the business]. I’m learning how to manage that.
MC: What is the one trait that’s gotten you where you are today?
PE: I’m unstoppable when I commit. That is a general rule for me. No one will get in my way. If there is an obstacle, I know my way around it. I think you need that tenacity and self-belief to run a business.
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