INTERVIEW | GEORGIE ABAY
When talking accomplished, stylish mothers it is hard to go past Georgie Abay. The former Deputy Editor of VOGUE Australia, creator of The Grace Tales and mother of two has somehow found the time to add Fashion Designer to her portfolio, with the launch of her children's luxury knitwear line Atelier/Child.
Usually on the other end of the interview, I enjoyed turning the tables and learning more about Georgie's motherhood journey, her pre-baby life in the glossy world of magazines, and of course her latest venture as co-founder of Atelier/Child.
Congratulations on Atelier/Child. You have definitely found a gap in the saturated children’s market. Can you talk us through the collection and how it came to be?
My business partner and close friend Jessica Baird Walsh and I have wanted to launch a business together for years. We brainstormed a lot of ideas together, but after heavily researching the childrenswear market it became clear there weren’t a lot of great knitwear options out there. Where were all the statement baby blankets for the stylish mum to throw over her pram? Or the cool leopard print jumpers? A lot of people have asked if we make our jumpers in adult sizes so hopefully we’ve achieved what we set out to do: appeal to the stylish mother and also her children. We start at size 1 and go up to size 7. We’ve designed jumpers, baby blankets, beanies and scarves. We also have a line of basics launching soon. The accessories are all one size (and have been tried and tested on many fit models). We’ve based the range on fashion’s most timeless prints such as leopard and houndstooth and updated them in fun, playful colours and contemporary scales.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Both our styles are quite classic, so we were naturally drawn to checks and stripes and then added bolder prints such as leopard and houndstooth. We both also love colour and tried to offer a mix of colours – there’s soft pinks in the range and then also bright green and aqua for the bolder dresser!
Do you have a favourite item from the collection?
The leopard print baby blankets – we wish they were around when we had our first daughters! My second daughter Lottie, 14 months, is getting a lot of use out of her blanket. Jessica is about to have her third baby so no doubt she’ll be getting a lot of use out of the blankets!
You are a very accomplished woman. Juggling a successful career in fashion journalism, The Grace Tales and now, Atelier/Child - all while being a mother to two beautiful little girls! How do you find a work/life balance? Can you offer any advice for other busy multi-tasking mamas? To be honest, life is much easier now I’ve left magazines and I also have a great support network around me (hello Mum!). After my first daughter Arabella was born I went back to work at Vogue three days a week as the deputy editor and fashion features director. Prior to becoming a mother, it was the dream job. I travelled around the world and spent my days doing something I was truly passionate about. I adored magazines and put my heart and soul into my work. After my daughter arrived, I lost the desire to travel and felt sad when I’d rush through the door at 6pm and she’d be asleep. The job wasn’t worth it for me. Working for a big corporate company when you’re a mother is hard and I think women who can make it work are incredible – I certainly couldn’t. It was too demanding. I felt unbalanced and detached from my baby girl. It’s not a nice feeling to walk through the door and have the nanny tell you your baby girl took her first steps. That said, I need to work, so I knew I needed to come up with something else to do that was more compatible with motherhood. My mother ran her interior design business from home and I guess I had her as an inspiration for setting up my own thing. I also had a very difficult pregnancy with my second daughter and knew I couldn’t go back to a corporate job while my kids were so young – life is too short. I had also started to put more energy into The Grace Tales and was working on the launch of Atelier/Child with Jessica. It was a period of big change and transition and I couldn’t be happier with where I am now. People often ask me if I miss Vogue or regret leaving. I have no regrets. While there are many challenges, doing my own thing (and working with Jess) is more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. The downside? I do work a lot at night as my girls take up a lot of my day. That’s the sacrifice for spending a lot of the week with them. The nighttime working is probably not great for my relationship but I do try and make sure my husband and I spend quality time together. We always eat dinner together. We also watch a good TV series a few times a week together –does that count as quality time?. My tips? Take one week at a time. If things are feeling too busy, I’ll pull back and cancel things. Also go easy on yourself. I’m terrible at replying to emails, but you can only do your best.
Most girls dream of working at Vogue. Can you give us a scoop? What was it really like? Is there a standout moment or event where you look back and think wow, that was pretty cool?
Probably being flown to Cannes for a Chanel Cruise Show. That trip was insanely amazing. Standing there surrounded by celebrities such as Alexa Chung and Diane Kruger was quite surreal. Going to the Valentino couture show was another one I’ll never forget. Also walking past Miuccia Prada. It was a dream job for a girl who grew up obsessed with fashion magazines. I had the privilege of working for the most talented editor in the industry, Edwina McCann. She was a huge inspiration and a great mentor to me. She’s also incredibly nice which I loved - nice girls don’t always finish last. Honestly though, mostly it was a lot of hard work and after hour events. Women in magazines work VERY hard – it’s not all glamour.
You have profiled many inspirational stylish mothers for TGT- is there a particular profile/story that really resonated with you?
The story that resonated the most with me was one on a beautiful woman called Peta Murchison. Her daughter is very sick with Batten’s Disease and despite this and all the challenges they are facing, her outlook on life was so inspiring and strong. She’s a testament to the strength of women. She really is one extraordinary woman.
How do you treat yourself when you have some "me-time"? I’ll go for breakfast or dinner with a girlfriend or I’ll meditate or sometimes mum and I go and get our nails done. I recently did a meditation course at The Broad Place in Paddington with an amazing woman called Jacqui Lewis. It was a game-changer.
If you could only wear one brand for the rest of your days- who would you choose? Probably Isabel Marant – I love the effortlessness of all her designs. So cool but so understated.
I love reading the List of Little Loves from the mothers you profile. Can you sure yours? Chocolate – that’s something I have in common with my business partner Jessica.
Coffee in the morning. Peppermint tea in the afternoon.
Ballet classes with Arabella – her collection of tutus is getting rather large.
Shopping for and dressing my girls – so fun! I was secretly thrilled I had another girl as I get to reuse all of Arabella’s adorable dresses.
Driving solo – no kids - with the music turned up really loud.
Fresh flowers. Every Wednesday Arabella and I meet my mum at the farmer’s market to get some flowers.
Printed skirts – other than jeans and trackpants, they’re all I wear. Let’s just say there’s usually a purchase when Net-A-Porter goes on sale.
My husband’s cooking – he cooks every single night. I clean. We’re a good match.
My girlfriends – their support and friendship has made this motherhood journey so much easier. Whenever I’m about to lose the plot, I’ll call one of them and end up laughing about how bloody hard it can be at times! It’s better to laugh than cry! We share endless funny stories.
Kisses and cuddles from my girls.
Red wine and pasta at Frattelli Fresh in Potts Point.
Champagne. We obviously don’t go out as much as we used to so sometimes, we will just open a bottle of champagne for no reason.
Travel – I travelled a lot before I had children, which is lucky because other than Fiji, we’re staying still for a couple of years!
My business partner Jess. Seeing Atelier/Child come to life is really exciting and I can’t believe we’ve finally launched our children’s knitwear brand.
LEAD PHOTO CREDIT | JULIE ADAMS