31 Days of Dreamers & Doers | Megan Hunt
Ambitious and laser-focused, Megan Hunt, 1/2 of Hello Holiday, current candidate for state legislature and much in between, is definitely both a Dreamer and Doer. Determined to make a statement for all fashionable, quirky, free-loving women around her as well as fighting for what she believes in where she resides - megan is making her mark in several ways. Get into them.
"Hello Holiday is an online boutique inspired by designers, artists, activists, and uncommon aesthetics. We dress people who love getting dressed. We started as an online store in 2012, and we opened our first retail showroom in 2014 in Dundee. I am the co-founder along with my partner, Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik."
MH: Hello Holiday existed as an idea for just a week or two before it was thrown fully into motion, with my partner Sarah and I fully committing ourselves to founding and growing this business. In the time just before my partner Sarah brought the idea for Hello Holiday into my world, I was searching for a way to phase out the dress line I had been developing for Princess Lasertron, a boutique bridal design company I founded in 2005. At the time, I had been doing Princess Lasertron full-time for seven years, and I had seen it swell and shrink and felt my ambition exceeding my capacity with that company. I had tried to reiterate the business a few times, but I was looking for a way to clean the slate entirely and begin something else. One night at this time, Sarah brought the blueprint for that “something else” into my office. She was borrowing my steamer to iron out a prom dress for a music video shoot, and I was up late as usual, in my own head. We found a lot to talk about that night.
Sarah had been envisioning Hello Holiday in various possible incarnations for a long time before we first talked about it out loud. Coming with a psychology background and having worked in the nonprofit world, she was seeking an outlet to explore and express her love of fashion, of styling, of the power of clothing to transform a woman. To have an opportunity to showcase her knack for inspiring others with self-expression that she had become so known for. We both shared a love of our community, but most importantly a love for seeing women feeling their best. We both seemed to surround ourselves with women who were searching for their own style, who were unafraid to experiment, who were the feminine manifestation of confidence and ambition and sexuality and fearlessness. We wanted to open the coolest store for these women, who were always the most interesting girls in the room. How do we dress the new female voice, the female leaders, the cool girls, the brave girls, the girls we aspire to become?
MH: Those women became our first customers when we launched our e-commerce site eight months after that first meeting. Our eagerness to listen, careful consideration of our inventory sources and business practices, and marketing to our customers through avenues they already loved led to a opening highly anticipated by a sizable group of early fans who are still with us today.
When Sarah and I set out to start Hello Holiday as an online store, we had absolutely no intention of getting into brick-and-mortar retail. But as our need for space and staffing continued to grow, we decided it was time for our business model to expand as well. Staying flexible as entrepreneurs and following where the opportunities took us led us to opening our first physical retail showroom in 2014, which taught us an entirely new set of logistical and strategic lessons. It’s difficult to predict the evolution of anything, particularly when you’re embracing the wild west world of online retail. We never saw ourselves offering an in-person shopping experience because we thought e-commerce was the entire vision of the future. The truth is that the online and physical worlds are crossing over more and more, and retail is no exception.
What about this business makes you so passionate about it?
I believe that the more women love themselves, the better off the world is. The truth is that so much of our confidence is expressed through what we wear and how we present ourselves to the world, and because of that, I've never thought that fashion, clothing, or style were foolish or inconsequential things. How we want to look, what we choose to wear, and what we’re ALLOWED to wear are all heavy with social significance. I believe, however, that the best use of fashion is to make every day more festive, celebratory, and delightful. Wearing something we love is a way to escape the stress and monotony of our routines and lift us up. My vision is for every women to look the way she wants to look. There is so much strength in that.
Besides that, what I love about my job is the ability to set my own schedule, to take my daughter to work, and to be able to take inspiration and motivation from my other friends and mentors in the creative and entrepreneurial community. I love reinventing the rules about fashion, and helping women represent themselves without comparing themselves to some inaccessible “ideal.”
10 years ago, would you have pictured yourself in this position?
I would not have imagined I’d be here exactly, but I knew I would be doing something like this. Honestly, Ten-Years-Ago Me would probably be most surprised that I am running for office! What I hope for the next ten years are more of the same things that have given me so much consistent pleasure and purpose: More political engagement, more letters to the editor, more travel, and more community-building. With practice and experience, I think I’m getting better all the time.
"I often think about the Maya Angelou quote, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did. They will remember how you made them feel.” I have built a reputation as a very hard worker—I love to write, I love to take risks, I like to stay busy, and I frequently take on more than I probably should. I have the “what I said” and “what I did” part down, but in the past year I have been trying to focus more intentionally and consciously on the “feel” part. It is something I need to improve on."
MH: I’m most proud of what I have accomplished as a single mother and role model for my daughter. It’s a responsibility and privilege to be able to model strength, intelligence, entrepreneurship, and bravery to my seven-year-old every day by growing a company and advocating for other people in my community. When readers tell me that my pieces about discrimination in the startup community inspired them to change the status quo in their own businesses, or that seeing photos of me with my child at work inspired another single mother to dive into entrepreneurship, or reading my opinions about political candidates made them go to the polls and vote, I feel like a leader and that makes me proud.
While we’ve created an aspirational brand, we’re different from many other companies because we aren’t selling perfection. We’re meeting our customers where they are, and offering a brand that represents the best version of ourselves, not just an abstract view of coolness and perfection. The Hello Holiday girl isn’t perfect. She doesn’t have it all together. She is looking for her dream job, saving up to travel to new places, going to her friends’ rock shows. She loves to read, she loves to go for walks. From her grandmother’s collection of jewelry to her cigarette-burned thrifted coats, from her small designer bag that she saved up for forever to her trusty jeans she’s had since college, the Hello Holiday girl pulls her inspiration equally from real life and her own dream world, weaving it all together to embody a style that is completely individualistic. We want to become a fully developed fashion brand for the modern girl, and part of that vision is the specific focus we put on plus sized clothing, including women of all sizes in the fashion conversation. If I could change something, I would wish for the funds to help finance manufacturing of more plus-size clothing so more people can be invited to use style and fashion as self-expression.
There is also a lot I would change about my personal life. I spend a lot of time dealing with self-doubt and worry, and I think that’s something I will always struggle with.
My advice for people, especially women, is that when you have a good idea, you just have to START. You will be shocked how many hours you find in the day when you are working on something you are passionate about, so there is no valid excuse for why you can’t just start today. When you love what you do, you won’t notice the hours going by because you can’t wait to show your blood sweat and tears to the world and say "THIS is what I made." "THIS is what I care about.” “THIS is what I am proud of!"
Work smart and work hard. Evaluate the effectiveness of your methods, and be ready to change (or even apologize) if you’re getting feedback from your audience that it isn’t working. Leverage your resources--social media, professional connections, personal skills and strengths--to get your work in front of as many people as possible, and opportunities will come. Someone will pick it up and it just takes one little break, one great connection, to start the series of dominos falling.
And if that’s not enough of a pep talk, I can tell you that if you don’t work smart and hard, you can bet someone else out there is, and they’re going to kick your ass.
I know that we all make a lot of excuses about why we can’t START something NOW. What I’m telling you is, get the business cards later. Buy the perfect outfit later. Create the website later. Re-decorate your office later. You don’t have to have everything perfect to just begin. All you have to do today is identify what steps need to be taken to see progress, and dedicate a small amount of time to one of them. See the freedom from judgment and failure in the act of beginning–you can begin over and over again, but if you never do it the first time, your project will never happen. No one can care for your ideas and dreams but you. That’s starting.