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International Women's Day | An Insider's View With Creative Director Edwina Forest

An ode, a tribute, an homage, this International Women's Day we celebrate the marvellously multifaceted females the world over by sitting down with Aje's own Co-Founder and Creative Director, Edwina Forest.

 

In conversation, we discuss her career trajectory, the biggest learnings before starting Aje, navigation between career and motherhood and who she cites as her biggest female inspiration.

 

Step into Edwina's world here and now.

Tell us about your formative years — University, what degree did you study and how did this inform your career trajectory?

 

I had always felt a strong affinity towards fashion, my grandmother was always dressed impeccably and I have such fond memories of getting lost in her wardrobe during my younger years. This fascination continued through school, however, I had never considered fashion design as a career as it felt too fantastical, so I decided to study journalism in hope of becoming a news reporter. I finished my Bachelor of Journalism at the University of Queensland, and after a few internships at local news stations, I realised this wasn’t for me. The written discipline and the broad foundation of general knowledge this degree gave me however has definitely been helpful in allowing me to communicate at an effective level in my day to day business dealings.

 

From there I decided to revert back to my love for fashion and merge this with my studies by delving into the magazine realm. I applied for and was successful in obtaining an internship at Russh Magazine, so I moved to Sydney and worked with Russh for two years assisting three different fashion directors on editorial and advertising. It was a very busy couple of years but it solidified my love for the fashion industry and honed my eye on form, fit, construction, and fabrication. Then Adrian and I started Aje…

What was your biggest learning before starting Aje?

 

My biggest learnings were spent during my university years working in premium fashion boutiques in Brisbane. I was selling a myriad of premium international and Australian designer brands which gave me such a great understanding of the power of brand, the importance of good design, and quality of make and fabrication but most importantly, of the power of fashion to transform how people feel.


Now that the business is thirteen years old and you’ve worn almost every ‘hat’ within the company, what has been your biggest teacher?

 

I am a student every day. There is so much still to learn, and our company is moving at a rapid pace, but it’s nice to to be at a point where I can concentrate on honing my skills as the creative lead rather than trying to be a jack of all trades, and a master of none which was how both Adrian and I felt for many years.

How did you develop your curatorial eye and interest in the arts and design?

 

By being innately interested in beautiful things by remaining passionate and curious, by allowing intuition to guide and by constant practice and research.

 

As a female professional and mother, how do you navigate your working week?

 

I do so with regular intervals of tears. Like all working mothers, I feel the unabating tug of war of the heart between two worlds. Freïa is almost a year old and I definitely haven’t found the right balance yet but am getting closer. The main things outside of a wonderful support network at home and in office, are organisation, routine and humility.

Who do you cite as your biggest female inspiration?

 

The extraordinary women I am surrounded by on a daily basis.

 

What is the biggest change you would like to see in terms of gender equality for the future?

 

My personal view and stance will always be one of equality. I appreciate that women and men have contrasting strengths and qualities, and thankfully with the continuous awareness of breaking down traditional, archetypal roles in society, we can continue to shift the mindset and create opportunities for each individual, irrespective of gender, to have the ability and opportunity to embrace their inner most desires and pursue their own path in life.

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