How to Succeed in Business with Your Two Best Friends
You know how you’re always told to avoid living with your best friend? That whole mixing business with pleasure thing is always very touch and go. Which is why I’ve always been fascinated—and envious—by the ladies from AYR, an independent clothing brand that has been e-commerce-only up until this month.
In celebration of the opening of their beautiful pop-up shop in New York City’s SoHo (which we are asking Santa to keep open forever as a Christmas gift to us), we spoke to the girls about how they met, what their biggest challenges are working together, and how their line allows them to express their individuality. Meet Jac Cameron, co-founder and creative director, Maggie Winter, co-founder and CEO, and Max Bonbrest, VP of PR and marketing.
Oh, and if you find yourself in New York City this holiday season, be sure to stop by their store at 199 Lafayette Street, open through March 2017.
How did you guys all meet?
Maggie Winter: Max and I met in college at the University of Michigan. We were in a sorority. There, I said it. I’m not ashamed. Max and her roommate were the only people I knew when I moved to New York City. They used to take me out and taught me always to buy my own drinks, which I still think is good advice. Jac and I met working together at Madewell. She designed denim and I merchandised a handful of categories. We made this bomb chambray shirt that we still see everywhere.
Jac Cameron: We had an excellent working relationship and had always talked about creating our own line. We imagined the product mix, the fit and feel of the denim, the fabrications.
Max Bronbrest: Maggie and I became fast friends over a mutual love of pizza and Paris. Jac I met thru the J.Crew/Madewell family probably eight years ago and she was way too cool for me at the time. Now I get to sit next to her and talk fabric and form over her shoulder.
You guys have such different person style, but you’re always wearing AYR. How do you wear the brand differently and stay true to your own taste?
MW: We all wear the brand a bit differently. I love how Max and Jac and everyone on the team puts the pieces together—I steal ideas for how to shoot the clothes online from how they style their outfits. Personally, I am extremely lazy with my clothing, and I really love AYR because wearing it ensures I’ll look 50 to 75 percent nicer than I might otherwise.
MB: I barely ever wore jeans and was not an avid online shopper before AYR, so it’s a testament to the brand that it’s converted even the toughest of customers.
VIDEO: How to Create the Perfect Frayed Hem on Your Jeans
I follow you all on Instagram and you are ALWAYS together. How do you separate work and friendship?
MW: We don’t. It’s all one big beautiful glorious mess.
MB: It’s definitely a blended world at this point. Work isn’t work anymore; it’s just life.
JC: I don’t switch from colleague to friend, neither do Max or Maggie. It's all one in the same. I think it's important to spend time outside of the confines of the office and to make sure you have focused time chatting about anything other than work.
But you must fight sometimes! What is the one thing that can always get you guys out of a fight?
MB: Pizza (and wine).
JC : Fries and wine.
What’s the best advice to give friends that are going into business together?
MW: Work with people you admire. Work with people who are good at different things. Work with people who love what they do. Work with people who want the same things. The work brings out the best in us in many ways, which is infinitely awesome.
MB: Surround yourself with people that know things you don’t. Be honest with yourself and with them about what you do well (and learn to do it better!). Be open to feedback, learn to take advice, and most of all learn to not take anything too seriously. Remember how lucky you are to have an opportunity to do something different.
Jac, Maggie, and Max opened their pop up in a matter of five days thanks to the help of their friends and family: Matt Bindner (architect), BSP, Uprise Art, Scent, and Max's own grandmother, a floral designer, who decorated the shop with flowers.