Q&A: The fashion label that is transforming surf culture

For this week’s feature, we got to have a conversation with Georgina Browne, the founder of the surfwear label Araminta James. Georgina launched the brand at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and saw instant success. Beyond being a successful beach fashion brand, Araminta James takes pride in helping establish a community for the quintessential Australian beach girls who supporting the brand.

ISB: What inspired you to come up with the idea of making surfwear fashionable?

GB: Perhaps my upbringing in Melbourne influenced that desire, as we leaned towards more structured and tailored pieces. When I moved to Noosa, Queensland, with its coastal lifestyle, I blended that aesthetic with more relaxed lounge fabrications, such as terry towelling, which has now become a core staple for the brand.

ISB: Araminta James became an overnight success when it first launched; how did you achieve such a feat?

GB: I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in hard work and timing. In February 2021, I launched a collection of Terry towelling sets online. Then, COVID hit and everyone naturally gravitated to a lounge aesthetic. My Instagram and website literally exploded overnight, reaching places like Paris, London, Japan and the USA. The whole world started buying my sets through a few key influencers who were at home and sharing content, tagging Araminta James. I guess in hindsight, the whole world wanted tracksuits and I had the right aesthetic at the right time.

ISB: How important is it to be able to build a community around the brand?

GB: Great question! Yes, yes, yes… this is integral. Product and community are equally important. The “overnight success” of Araminta James was preceded by me working as a womenswear designer for top Australian retailers. I had spent 15 years honing my craft, so by the time I had the courage to launch my own business (through Instagram), I was just so excited and beyond grateful to have a platform to talk directly to my customers. I love talking to our community as that informs me as a fashion designer.

ISB: What was the most challenging aspect of growing this brand internationally and how did you deal with such a challenge?

GB: I am a hyper-creative fashion designer who is not great at maths. So yes, super-fast growth globally presented its challenges in running a business. I was the designer, product developer, social media manager, returns manager, accountant, logistics, packing orders (out of my garage). Hence, my time was spread too thin. That has all changed now as the business is now five years old. I have slowly built an epic team of girl bosses who work alongside me. In hindsight, entrepreneurship is all about overcoming challenges, nobody cares how smart you are. I focus on designing fashion and obsessing over products, that’s what truly counts. It’s about creating innovative products and ensuring a seamless customer experience. Then, in the background, I will find people in business who can help find the answers to the questions that present themselves daily.

ISB: What are your plans for Araminta James in the next couple of years?

GB: We are about to launch in Tokyo. Seriously, it feels surreal even saying it out loud. So, yes, global expansion through Asia, Europe and the USA, while nurturing our home turf in Australia. I have recently moved back to Melbourne, so opening a store in my hometown would be a dream come true.

ISB: If there is one piece of advice you can give to young women looking to start their business journeys, what would that be?

GB: Just do it. Maybe don’t tell everyone straight away (people love talking about the negatives). Find the gap in the market or the product that resonates with you and obsess over it. Start an Instagram account plus a Shopify account and go for it. Learn as you go, don’t be afraid to ask questions. My favourite quote is, “If there is no seat at the boardroom table, build your own table”.