Truth is, you can’t run from an idea that visits you every day and as we settle into another new year there's no better time to quit putting off that daydream and make it a reality, even if only part-time. When launching a business, taking it from an idea to reality isn't easy, however, I’m a strong believer that hard work and determination pay off for those that hustle. For fashion designer Megan Smith of Megan Renee, launching her namesake womenswear label was always the plan but it didn't happen overnight.
In 2016, after years of being unfulfilled in designing for retailers such as Macy's and Nordstrom, Megan realized it was time to push herself to dive deeper than ever before. “Moving to LA, I knew that working for larger companies I could get a lot of experience, network, and meet a lot of people.” Megan continues, “Fashion as a designer is a lot of work and long hours so I knew that if I didn’t at least attempt to do it on my own I would never know unless I tried.” Receiving amazing praise from clients, she knew she could do it for herself.
Dedicating nights and weekends to create her first collection, Megan Renee debuted at LA Fashion Week with a slew of new customers. “So many people were asking how and where they could buy, and since it was my first collection, I had no idea what to do,” Megan recalls. Shortly after her success at LA Fashion Week and the launch of her online store, sales started pouring in immediately. While slowly building her brand, Megan knew it would take savvy strategy and resources to get her label to the next level. “I applied for grants and every opportunity for young and emerging designers that would help me get funding. I applied about 5 or 6 times to Project Runway and kept getting rejected."
After connecting with a former casting producer, she suggested trying out for a new show, Making the Cut. Appearing on Amazon Prime’s reality fashion design competition show and receiving applause from celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, the brand’s popularity grew overnight. After an upsetting loss for Megan and those who grew to love her over the season, she knew it was only up from there.
Since departing from her Amazon show, Megan decided to take a break and pursue her clothing line full-time. As of today her designs have been featured in major publications and worn by celebrities such as Issa Rae, Becky G, and Dominique Fishback and her absolute favorite of them all, Kelly Rowland.
It wasn't easy getting onto the likes of the most iconic celebrities of our generation but Megan is the epitome of doing what it takes to design one's own life. “Making money is part of owning a brand but that's at the bottom for me. What really makes me happy is when I see people in my clothes and they love it while looking good. I’m grateful to be able to do that and have that reach.”
Courtesy of Megan Smith
What’s your advice for women who want to take that leap of faith but are hesitant to pursue their dream of starting a fashion business?
Megan Smith: The biggest thing is to just start. It doesn't [matter] where or how you start, the amount of money you have, or even the number of resources you have. Even if you’re designing one thing per week, or one piece every few months, just start. The problem is so many of us think about the bigger picture and when thinking of it as a whole it's overwhelming. Breaking it down into steps, one thing after another is how you build momentum. You have to realize it's a process; it doesn’t happen overnight but you have to start somewhere. Don’t wait to start. Just start with bits and pieces, you don’t have to do everything at once.
"So many of us think about the bigger picture and when thinking of it as a whole it's overwhelming. Breaking it down into steps, one thing after another is how you build momentum. You have to realize it's a process; it doesn’t happen overnight but you have to start somewhere. Don’t wait to start."
Courtesy of Megan Smith
What are your thoughts when it comes to doubting one's own ability of if they can succeed in what it is they set out to do?
Once you start and build that momentum, you’ll slowly gain the resources you need, they’ll come to you. That’s what it means to walk in your purpose. Once you start, blessings will come.
It takes money to start a quality clothing brand. What have been the strategies you’ve found helpful when funding your business?
As a young designer, I didn’t make much money so there was a lot of sacrificing. Starting out, I built relationships with fabric stores that had close-out fabrics which are fabrics on sale from companies going out of business or canceled orders. So I would get fabrics super cheap and the return from my sales gave me the boost I needed. I’d use all that money and put it right back into the line. All of my disposable income went into my clothing line.
Starting out, I kept my day job and today I still design for other people. I don’t encourage anyone to just quit their day job on a whim. If you can do both until you’re at a place with a steady income to support your lifestyle and the brand, then I would suggest that. Instagram makes things look glamorous like, “I quit my job!” That's not reality.
Courtesy of Megan Smith
Designers have to be resourceful when executing the vision. What are a few things you had to take on personally that were a challenge?
I already knew how to make patterns but I sucked it up when I started making my own lines. I taught myself how to sew my first samples, I would do it all. If you don’t know how to do that there [are] so many people here that will help you. My first seamstress and pattern maker, I found on Craigslist. I taught myself how to do a lot rather than outsourcing which saved a lot of money as well.
For more of Megan, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of Megan Smith; illustration by Kyra Jay
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images