One year on: Pip Edwards talks P.E Nation’s evolution & Insta’s role

It’s been exactly 12 months since Pip Edwards delivered a first-look at her new activewear line – P.E Nation – designed alongside good friend and former colleague Claire Tregoning. And needless to say for someone who’s pedigree includes working for Ksubi, Sass & Bide and General Pants Co, people have taken notice. But it’s not her past employment nor her public following (Pip has got almost a 100K following on Instagram) that has seen P.E Nation accrue an impressive level of success in very little time…

Read on as Pip chats exclusively to Husskie about how the past year has played out for the brand, gaining traction as a start-up, and her hands-on approach to Instagram.

Congratulations on the success of P.E Nation! Can you talk me through some of the brand’s milestones in this first year?
Thank you!!! There have been many milestones and so many achievements for our P.E team!!! From launching with 45 stockists including international representation from the first season, to showing at MBFWA just two months after launch, to being invited to showcase as part of Net-A-Porter’s New Designer Series in LA, to showing in Paris as part of the AFC Showroom, to being finalists at the Australian Fashion Laureate, to collaborating with Reebok on a sell out trainer, and our pop up store at Selfridges in London in January… it really has been quite mental!!!! However, just seeing women wearing P.E every day and knowing from feedback that they love to wear it and feel good has been the greatest achievement. It’s certainly been a whirlwind year!!!

Did you ever expect it to be such a big success?
Claire [Tregoning, Co-Founder] and I knew we were onto something, but it’s hard to predict success. We had all of the right pillars in place – a great name, a great product, price point, design, team, retailers, and a PR plan. We poured our hearts into P.E Nation and genuinely created a brand that we felt women would love. Rather than playing into trends, we designed something that serviced what women needed; To be honest, we created a brand that serviced what WE needed to juggle our crazy busy lives – we needed the product to be functional, comfortable yet fashionable. Something that would get us from A to B but really, from A to Z. We are definitely proud of everything we’ve achieved.

Having a recognised “name” behind a brand is helpful, but it never automatically means success. What do you think it is about the brand that has managed for it to gain such traction?
Having an existing presence in the Australian fashion industry has made for many stories – media I have worked with for years were definitely interested in knowing more about P.E; we capitalised on these existing relationships and I am so grateful for that. But really, I think the brand gained traction through word of mouth and the fact that the product was great value for money. You can have all the bells and whistles, but if your product does not stand up in the market, you essentially have nothing. We created new and fresh active campaigns. We designed and delivered quality product. We have had a wide range of celebrities wearing and supporting P.E and we have everyday women telling their friends how much they love the brand. It’s definitely a combination of things aligning to create the potent traction.

P.E Nation seems to appear in a lot of influencer posts. Has this been mostly organic or have you actively engaged with other influencers to work with the brand?
P.E Nation is all about authenticity and our team. A lot of influencers reach out to collaborate with us because they genuinely love and want to wear the product. We don’t pay for posts as a business because we choose to work with people who actually want the product. We do target people that we think are the right fit and if they like it, they’ll wear it, but there is no pressure. I think with activewear, it’s important that the people wearing and supporting it are actually active – customers can see through paid posts when it’s not aligned so it’s all about keeping it real and creating content that resonates with our customers and our brand. We started Instagram before we launched and it was a bit of a moodboard. We had to set the scene. We attracted followers who were keen on our vibe and that then transitioned to followers loving the brand once we dropped product.

Have there been any specific moments on social media that has really helped the brand gain traction?
Khloe Kardashian wearing and tagging P.E Nation was a pretty big deal. She has 65 million followers. Hailey Baldwin, Bella Hadid and Sofia Richie have all worn P.E. Cate Blanchett has also been snapped wearing it. It’s all very exciting for us.

Do you personally run the Instagram account? If so, why is it important for you to oversee this part of the job?
I did. It was my baby. I was so passionate about it and knew it was important to build the context around the brand to give it personality. I would spend hours researching inspiration pics, to help create the aesthetic that we now know as P.E. As the business grew, it became more of a specialised role and we have a Digital Content Manager as well as a Customer Service Assistant who work across Insta. The vision and aesthetic had to come to from me so that it was true and pure to what is P.E – and when you are a start-up, only the creatives are able to really convey that message. I am still very much across all of the creative, and it’s important to be so to ensure the brand’s creative eye is still on track. It was important to showcase the design eye, the colour blocking eye and the attitude that has now become the P.E woman – the images are heavily curated.

How much time do you spend on Instagram each day?
I flick through it all day, definitely when having a coffee, eating lunch etc… and I try to post at least one pic a day on my personal account. On the P.E account, we like to post at least twice a day. I try to respond to as many questions as possible as I think being there and allowing our audience to have that contact with me is an important aspect to the brand.

What behind-the-scenes work goes into the creation of a P.E Nation Instagram post?
It depends on what the post is. We post our campaign and ecomm images, flatlays, regrams and inspo shots so depending on what it is, there could be more or less work to create it. We create all our own campaign and ecomm content so it’s great that the purity exists. We love to repost our customers wearing it, but only if it fits with our aesthetic in terms of composition. We are so fortunate that our audience have recognised our aesthetic and try to replicate it in their images, so we actually have a bank of imagery that we can draw on. We are calculated with our posts, we work on a plan and it all relates back to what you can buy – it coincides with our delivery drops, that’s commercial side to it all. See now, buy now, wear now.

And the Pip Edwards account?!
In terms of my personal page, it’s literally what you see is what you get. I don’t pre-plan anything. I just show my real life. With my personal Instagram, it more relates to what’s going on in my life. I like to showcase as much of the reality as possible. From work to friends to family, it’s all in there as it’s the perfect platform to show as much of the real me as possible – and because it’s not a source of income for me, I can post whatever I want and that’s the integrity behind it (I believe).

What would be your three top tips for a fashion brand wanting to use Instagram as a way to grow the business?

  1. Be authentic and be who YOU are. Don’t try to play into the ‘trends’ or grow the brand with fake or disengaged followers. Just be you and your fans and followers will find you.
  2. Show a little personality. Tell your followers a story. Who are you and what inspires you? I think your personality can come through your copy – to be a little tongue-in-cheek always takes the seriousness out of it.
  3. Have fun. I think the days of ‘Instagram businesses’ is on its way out. It’s more about engaged followers than it is about the number of followers. You need to showcase more about why people should buy into and follow you and you can’t do that if you’re not having fun whilst doing it!

What should we expect to see from P.E Nation over the next 12 months?
More, more, more! With the expansion of categories, more collabs, a wider product offering, new colourways and styles… P.E Nation never sleeps (neither Claire, nor I, nor the team ever sleep either hahahaha)! Watch this space.

All images: @PipEdwards wearing P.E Nation

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