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It was 2006 when Edwina Forest first laid eyes on Adrian Norris. He had popped into a fashion boutique in Brisbane where Forest was working to ask for directions.

“He was dressed very . . . unusually,” says Forest. “He looked like a Norwegian tourist. He was given the worst directions and I spent the rest of the day feeling bad, thinking he must have been so lost.”

Fate intervened and by coincidence, the pair met again that very night at a mutual friend’s birthday party. Norris, from Noosa (not Norway), was about to open his own clothing boutique on Hastings Street after studying art in Italy; Forest was soon to move to Sydney to work at Russh magazine.

That same year, Norris had opened his store, Strada. It was a sort of 21st birthday present (he asked his parents to lend him money) and it stocked brands such as Kit Willow, Josh Goot and Sass and Bide. “For Noosa,” he says, “it was cutting edge. We thought we were very cool.” Forest, who grew up in the Darling Downs and Toowoomba, took the magazine internship and stayed for two years, eventually becoming fashion editor.

Best friends Forest and Norris now work atop The Aje Collective of brands. Darren McDonald

She and Norris stayed in close contact, visiting each other regularly. One place they’d often meet was Australian Fashion Week, where Forest was a stylist and Norris was buying for Strada. Eventually “they” became “we”, working on Strada together despite their physical distance.

“We were each other’s fashion sounding boards,” Forest says. She regularly worked at the shop when she visited Noosa. Their mojo was simpatico. They worked well together. But they had no idea how to make money.

“We were completely clueless,” says Norris. “I still ask my parents,

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