Jac Cameron and Maggie Winter are the dream team behind AYR—a women’s brand with a realistic approach to how we dress. Dropping the charade of outfits for occasions, AYR is about the one outfit we wear all day. Qualities of the AYR woman are reflected in the brand’s creators: driven, smart and adventurous, with the rare combination of passion and hard work in equal measure.
Jac: “Prior to AYR I was at Calvin Klein Jeans as global denim director. The company scale was overwhelmingly big—it was like night and day to this experience, but I worked with an amazing team of people. Good people make all the difference, but you still need a structure to support that.”
Maggie: “I had been at J.Crew for over 7 years, where I also had wonderful people to learn from and work with. When the opportunity for AYR came up it was a really difficult decision to leave, so I wrote a list of all the best experiences I’d had in life. What they all had in common was new adventures with good people, so that’s what I decided to pursue.
We both felt a disconnect with the brands we grew up wearing—like they weren’t growing with us. AYR is meant to be worn by a woman who’s having an 18 hour day who isn’t going to spend all her money and time getting dressed. We’re constantly thinking about what she wants. Now that we’ve launched we’re learning the answers—especially with our guide shop allowing us to interact and identify with our customers.
Jac and I have always had the imagination and vision to create new things—but we’re also very hardworking, self-motivated and focused. So we understand the conceptual level, but also the day to day execution of that. If we stood outside of ourselves it would look like we’ve done quite a bit in the past year and a half—but when you’re in it, you’re focused on what needs to happen next in a very real, very tangible way.
It’s about hard work, trusting your instincts and doing it yourself.
With AYR we’ve created a place where we have a tremendous amount of trust, which is something very special to us. When you try something new there’s no guarantee it’s going to work out, so there have certainly been humbling moments.”
Jac: “There are times where you’re like—oh, god. But there are also moments when you think—those jeans look amazing on her! ”
Maggie: “A perfect example: we had begged our LA factory to make 4 pairs of jeans in a limited run. It was the first time we’d let anyone outside our team see and try on the product. At 2AM we were building racks and mannequins saying—we didn’t have to do this in our old jobs. But 5 hours later at 7AM, we were in the same space getting ready to meet with Vogue, thinking—we didn’t do this in our old jobs either. So it’s the whole spectrum. When you care about what you’re doing and trust the people you’re working with, the best motivator is to be proud of the work.
When you’re working on something small, there’s a lot of responsibility but with that comes a huge amount of pride.
When it came to resources we had pretty scrappy beginnings—scrappy being a fancy word for poor! But it gives you an appreciation for resources when do you have them. It also allows you to see what each individual brings to the team, which you wouldn’t appreciate in the same way at a large company.”
Jac: “There is definitely a trade off between resources and experience—it forces the best kind of creativity. A lot of the line has been built on genuine vintage pieces in our own wardrobes. You build it from a different perspective and it grows you in a different way.”
Maggie: “To me, opportunity is a choice to be open to the unknown—to take risks and chances. You very much get what you give. It sounds cliche but you have to put yourself out there—which creates a vulnerability and can be pretty uncomfortable. Working for a company becomes a big part of your identity, it’s how you introduce yourself—what you do is a huge part of who you are. Jac and I still find ourselves explaining what we do and nobody really knows. Going out on your own forces you to define your identity outside of the company that you work for.
It’s all about the relationships you create with people, because you don’t have the name of a business or brand to rely upon. You have to be good to people, you have to be open, you have to listen. One of the best parts about AYR is all of the incredible people we meet—it’s like discovering a secret world.”
Jac: “Having access to all of these talented people is phenomenal, you develop such an admiration and respect for others.
In the same way this interaction exposes the abilities of other people, it also exposes your own. You really get to know yourself.”
Maggie: “It forces self-improvement in a way a big company might not. In a big office you don’t have to face certain aspects of yourself, you play one role every day and can become complacent. Going out on your own heightens a self-awareness and understanding—you feel compelled and motivated to be a better person because that’s what people see.”
Jac: “I love being stoked to come in on Monday. I’m always excited because we’re creating constantly and no week is the same—you’re pushed every step of the way to really show up.”
Maggie: “Success for me is always feeling like you’re growing. If you’re growing and moving forward you’re alive. And let’s be honest, it’s also a beach house. One day there will be a beach house in the mix.”