Heads turn as designer Sarah-Jane Clarke (centre) breezes onto our set in a whirl of marigold silk and ivory ruffles. “It was like this every morning when we worked with her at Sass & Bide,” says Pip Edwards (left), who, along with Claire Tregoning, spent her early career designing for Clarke’s illustrious label. “Everyone would wait with bated breath to see what SJ would wear each day.” Adds Tregoning, “She was a bit of a muse to all of us.”
When Edwards and Tregoning branched out on their own to launch their sports-meets-streetwear brand P.E Nation in 2016, it was Clarke they turned to for advice. “I could sense the energy and excitement around them and I knew they were going to be a huge success,” recalls Clarke. “As a duo, they had all the perfect ingredients. I just told them to follow their dreams and trust their instincts.”
Beyond her business brain and styling nous, Clarke provided personal inspiration. “Before Sass & Bide, I’d only worked in male-dominated environments,” says Edwards. “So it was quite a beautiful switch to work with SJ and Heidi [Middleton, Sass & Bide’s co-founder], who weren’t just talented working women but talented working mothers. I was a young single mum at the time and it was a really nurturing environment.”
Clarke affirms her support was no coincidence: “I am passionate about getting mums back into the workforce. We’ve gained knowledge, patience and empathy through raising children, and this in turn will help businesses and society in general to be better.”
Read the full story in the April issue of marie claire, out now.