If every story has two sides, on this occasion they come together, two pairs of sisters that successfully have created their brands in Australia and make them grow further their borders. First, we have the MacGraw sisters, Beth and Tessa, that have created their brand 'macgraw' back in 2012, it has been a privilege to watch them conquer the Australian fashion market and win the Australian Fashion Laureate for Best Emerging Designer in 2020. We discussed their complicity around some questions on sisterhood.

On the other side, while most of us were watching Netflix and learning some new cooking skills in early 2020 the Pillemer sisters Emma and Ashley decided to create their own jewellery brand, 'Emma Pills'. A year after its birth, the brand is worn by every Sydney it-girl and just landed in Los Angeles. We interviewed the sisters about their successful collaboration where business and family are not completely separated.

Words by Charlotte Coquelin.

Photography by Daniel Nadel. Styled by Charlotte Coquelin.

Model, Elle Ngo at Priscillas Models. Makeup and hair by Jessica Yang at The Uncommon Agency.

All clothes by macgraw. All jewellery and accessories by Emma Pills.


Whose idea was it to create a brand first?

Tessa MacGraw: We’re both creative and growing up we just kind of knew this was the dream.

For as long as I can remember, it was just something we did - sketching, styling, photoshoots - there were lots of new looks for Barbie!

Beth MacGraw: If we had to pinpoint a real moment for conceptualising the brand, it would have to be New York City in 2009. We took a year-long hiatus spending most of our time in our beloved NYC. On hot sweltering days, we would head up to our Soho apartment rooftop and flesh out our plans. We spent lots of time up there hanging out, taking in the city and sketching.

Have you both always loved fashion?

TM: Absolutely. For me, I love the storytelling ability of fashion. I love creating a macgraw world and bringing it to life… illustrating that idea through music, colour and character. We always give our models a character to play.

BM: I love that beautiful clothes can inspire people and create a sense of occasion and memories. Nothing makes me happier than positive stories from our customers - finding out we’ve created a little bit of joy and magic in their world.

Did you always get along when you were younger? And do you ever fight over work matters?

BM: We have always gotten along annoyingly well.

TM: When it comes to working matters, we are most often on the same page which is one of the reasons this works. If both of us aren’t into an idea - it won’t make it in. We are sisters though, so I’d be lying if I said we never bicker. It is usually over stupid stuff, but we never hold a grudge and get over it very quickly.

Did you always think you would be work partners growing up?

TM: Yeah we did. I think we told just about everyone too!

Do you see yourself as Yin and Yang or are you more of the same personality?

BM: We are quite different personality-wise, but our characteristics complement each other.

Your work is always happy and colourful. Where do you usually find your inspiration?

BM: So many places. We are definitely inspired by Australia and its beautiful nature, colours and wide-open space. I think we are most inspired when we disconnect. For me, that’s when we head up to our family beach house with dodgy internet. We also have a soft spot for all things Parisian, particularly the rich history.

TM: I’m inspired by storytelling and creating our idea of a macgraw world. That’s probably why we love doing shows. We were dancers as kids so we love the theatrics of weaving a story with sites and sounds, giving people a feeling. I think that comes from that showmanship.

Who are your muses for this collection?

BM: Our muse for this collection is more of a character we channelled. We shot the collection and show in one of Sydney’s grandest gothic revival mansions. Imagining the woman who would have lived there, amongst the grand drawing rooms and croquet lawns. A place of beauty and optimism, completely immersed in the colours of nature.

Describe the macgraw woman.

TM: Our woman has a youthful wit, a thing for detail-oriented design…and she’s a lady, albeit an irreverent one. She’s not a pleaser - she dresses for herself and certainly not for trends. She’s not overtly sexy, so she is very open to our rebellious play on femininity, high-Victorian necklines, ruffles, flat shoes and matching sets.

BM: Quality is important to her, so our use of natural fibres resonates. So does the fact we make the line in Australia and in thoughtful and small runs. I like to think of our woman as comfy in her own skin and comfortable standing out - she is empowered. Our favourite macgraw ladies to date would be Lorde, Coco Rocha, Julianne Moore and Pandora Sykes.

What is your next big project?

BM: We are really focused on the US market at the moment - this has become a growing space for us. It’s really exciting to see some tangible traction happening too. We recently dressed Paris Hilton and Andie MacDowell as well as St Vincent and Rose Byrne. We also dressed Leslie Grossman at our first Emmy’s which was pretty special.

TM: Our next big project would be celebrating our 10th anniversary next year! I can’t believe that we’ve been doing this for almost a decade now. It’s crazy how time flies! It’s a proud moment to still be here and grow and love every bit of it.

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Who came up with the idea of creating a brand first?

Emma Pillemer: I have always wanted to create some sort of brand whether it was fashion, jewellery, or something in between. I have always been obsessed with jewellery, I would never leave the house without my bling. So when my gap year plans fell through, I knew that this was my chance to not waste my year and create the brand I have always wanted, Emma Pills. I started designing and working on my first collection and realised the best person who could help me build it would be my nº 1 from day 1, Ash, whose talents totally complement mine.

Have you both always loved fashion?