#ICanDoThat Episode 7 with Megan Summerville

In the seventh episode of #ICanDoThat Jonathan Joeseph and Rachel Elspeth Gross, interview Megan Summerville. Megan makes underwear, lingerie would be the fancy word. Her eponymous brand is located in Texas, but as we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. Megan shifted her focus to include beautiful masks, made of fabrics you won’t find anywhere else. This week we’ll be talking about starting a business, running a brand, and multi-tasking when you have many, many goals. Little Red Fashion introduces Little Red Village and it's first interview series #ICanDoThat on instagram. Our #ICanDoThat campaign is a one-question interview for our IGTV that asks industry professionals across disciplines to respond to the question: "What advice do you have for a kid who wants to do what you do within fashion?"

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The video of this interview can be found here!

Live: June 3rd, 2021

Speakers:

Jonathan Joseph

Rachel Elspeth Gross

Megan Summerville

Jonathan Joseph  0:00  
Hello everyone, it worked. I've been trying to go live for the past few minutes because as you know, oh right, here we go. A little technical difficulty never hurt anyone. Hello and welcome to another installment of our Little Red Village initiative. #ICanDoThat. I am Jonathan Joseph, CEO and founder of Little Red Fashion and we are just going to take a second to get Rachel on line and our amazing saucy guest for today. Let's see. There we go. Hello, my dear. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  0:45  
Hello has been a day of things going awry. I completely understand. 

Jonathan Joseph  0:50  
Yeah, technical difficulties are never fun, but you got to happen sometimes. Let's get Megan in here. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  0:58  
Fabiola. She's on their.

Jonathan Joseph  1:02  
sdFabulous, fabulous, what a beautiful day despite technical difficulties. This is going to be an exciting segment, I think. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  1:13  
Yeah I'm excited to it's gonna be fun. 

Jonathan Joseph  1:18  
How are you doing my dear? 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  1:20  
Oh, I'm juggling chainsaws all day long. 

Jonathan Joseph  1:24  
Okay sounds like a day that ends in Y.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  1:26  
 Yeah, it's been it's been crazy but not bad. Just a lot.I guess that's life in the future. 

Jonathan Joseph  1:34  
And the present the future now the future now. We are jugglers here at Little Red Fashion our hidden talent. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  1:47  
Now I like your new studio setup. It looks beautiful. 

Jonathan Joseph  1:50  
Thank you. Moving as always, you know, moving 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  1:54  
Again, juggling chainsaws. 

Jonathan Joseph  1:59  
Absolutely. Oh, someone had a question in the audience. Tell something about fine art photography. Well, let's see fine art photography.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  2:11  
might be a conversation for a different days. Megan coming is she, did you? Did she respond to, Megan Are you there?

Jonathan Joseph  2:23  
Yes. I've been trying to hit yes. On her for like, a minute and a half. Instagram is not always our friend.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  2:31  
No, it's not the most friendly. Hey, hello, sideways friend. may want to change the orientation on your up. Yeah. For some reason. My it's showing a different spot. So I'm going to go sit down. Okay. It still has you sideways, but okay. Yeah. Just want to like change the orientation, maybe make it.... a little holding device. That's perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

Jonathan Joseph  3:03  
There we go.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  3:09  
That's great. We can see the chair and everything. 

Megan Summerville  3:11  
It's just not holding it. Why is it the aspect not changing. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  3:17  
that's just the theme of the day. I think Jonathan and I were just saying everything a little bit extra.

Megan Summerville  3:23  
Like I changed my sewing machines but I'm not going to sew on them today. It's today's not the day. 

Jonathan Joseph  3:32  
Hello to everyone joining us.

Megan Summerville  3:37  
 Un momento por favor.

Jonathan Joseph  3:43  
All good. No worries. We is this the part where I start playing a little music. I get a little animation like those old movie you know animations. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  3:55  
As long as its no pressure, like the Jeopardy music. 

Jonathan Joseph  3:58  
That's That's too much. No, no, no, no. We need like something here in an elevator on vacation. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  4:05  
Music. There you go. That looks stable. 

Jonathan Joseph  4:10  
There we go. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  4:12  
Perfect. Hi, Megan. How are you?

Megan Summerville  4:14  
Good! How are you?

Rachel Elspeth Gross  4:15  
I'm doing great.  Megan, Jonathan, Jonathan, Megan, everyone. Megan is a friend of mine, as well as an incredible independent designer. And we really wanted to speak with you today, Megan, about your perspective on owning your own brand. What it's like to have your name be on a label, what it sort of takes to get there. Do you think you could start with just kind of describing what the day to day is like when you have your name on a label?

Megan Summerville  4:43  
The day to day is probably a lot more messy or labor intensive from what people probably anticipated originally, when they imagined, I'm gonna be a fashion designer. So Have you kind of With that being said, there's a lot of what I would consider cleanup or just kind of the rough edges of design that take that you take the majority of your time in your day. And that can be anywhere from I had missing pattern sets today. Oh, God require a custom order. I have no idea where they are. So okay, we're gonna draft new patterns for the missing pieces. That was kind of the majority of my morning was just doing redrafts making sure everything all the patterns, walked, so when I sowed them together that they were going to do what I wanted them to do. And so not necessarily glamorous, but kind of the reverse to that would be what I would consider the more glamorous days of when I get a call from my mom who says "Do you want to go look at fabrics?" Of course I want to go!

Jonathan Joseph  5:59  
The fun part.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  6:00  
Yeah, definitely. Oh, so would you tell us the story about that, that picture on the red dress.

Megan Summerville  6:09  
So a dear friend of mine went to New York to go to Coco roaches model camp. And she asked me if I could help her with styling for her trip for the in camp photoshoots. And then Coco also surprised them that she was going to be walking in Siriano's show, and that they had guest passes to see the show. And so for a lot of them it was their first New York Fashion Week experience. And so she was like, "What do I wear," and we're texting back and forth to each other before the show and I'm like, "you should wear red always wear red."

Rachel Elspeth Gross  6:51  
We love red dresses. 

Jonathan Joseph  6:53  
We agree.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  6:53  
You know it's such an amazing picture I love. I love it. For everyone who's watching the first post we did this week on Megan the very first image is Megan's red dress next to the Christian Siriano dress. So it just a fun story about, you know. 

Megan Summerville  7:13  
and the fact, that model came back, she was able to share with me that paparazzi were chasing them to the show trying to get pictures of her in the dress. And then that is the excitement of a lifetime of like, remember that time when my dress was running away from paparazzi. (laughing)

Jonathan Joseph  7:35  
The stories I mean, clothes inherently carry stories with them. That's something I think we can all agree on. And I think, you know, as a garment goes through the many phases of its life, just like our little red dress, it picks up stories along the way. And I think that's part of what makes fashion in general, such a powerful tool, especially when we're talking about kids and teaching them about their relationship to clothing. I was definitely curious, what your earliest fashion memory or what what is the fashion memory that sort of gave you the bug that comes to mind as like the first step on the journey to where you are now as an independent designer?

Megan Summerville  8:08  
Well, I would say that, that's probably twofold, in that when I was younger, we didn't have a lot of means. And so my mom was sewing a lot for me as a kid. And as a kid of the 70s it was really kind of like, Oh, your family doesn't have a whole lot and your mom's having to be so creative. And it was a different feeling about these clothes that were being made for my body than what I was exposed to on a larger scale. We made clothes out of necessity. And I had hand me down Barbies that had no clothes because hand me downs don't. But there's scraps leftover from the projects that my mom would do for me. And so that was my earliest memory is really you know, wrapping scraps around my dolls and cutting pieces out and using my first sewing machine that had been it was battery operated that only had it, that was like oh thats infuriating. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  9:15  
Training for surgeons, yeah. 

Megan Summerville  9:20  
And so, really, um, when the tech I lived in Austin at the time, when I decided to get into fashion, and I was working in the tech sector at an educational software company. And um, it was really at that time where I was able to afford a higher level of clothing that was ever something that was available to me growing up. And part of that was going into a fitting shop and having my very first fitting and going okay, a foundation is really paramount to get a silhouette, whatever it is that you're looking for. Um, so that was really my first exposure to foundation garments. And then coming to the realization of, oh, you have to have somebody that knows a foundation to be able to create the body silhouette for the garment that you're wearing. And it was just kind of a moment where I was like, Oh, this thing that I thought was, I had to know this, because of our limited resources growing up, is actually really an asset. And it's something that I have a deep and profound understanding for, that I never took credit for.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  10:37  
Now, that's so true. I mean, a dress can look like nothing on a hanger can look okay on a body. But if you have the proper support, if you have the proper fit, I mean, it changes everything, it can turn something that doesn't look like much in an ensemble (laughing). 

Jonathan Joseph  10:54  
Tailoring are definitely everything. And one of the easiest ways to you know, especially now be more sustainable in terms of modifying things you find thrifting and upcycling things. And you know, a big part of our mission at Little Red Fashion is to also work to produce resources so that kids can learn how to better take care of their clothes and learn how to mend and learn those basic skills when it comes to taking care of others to clothing to because that's the only way we're going to get past this whole fast fashion mess.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  11:21  
Yeah, and it's always so sad when somebody doesn't know how to sew a button or fix a hem like these are things that I mean, I've learned to sew when I was a child, but I did go to fashion school, but still like it's not. It's not that hard. And people should know, it's so sad that that's no longer part of our educational curriculum in the United States. I mean, I feel that,

Jonathan Joseph  11:39  
Until now! 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  11:40  
Yes ,until now. Yeah. So Megan, um, would you say that there's a particular book or movie? Or is there any kind of like media that you really find inspiring any other designers work that you really look to? Ah, well.

Megan Summerville  11:57  
Okay, so for my particular field, there is a book that I really, really recommend. And it comes out of Canada in its the bra makers manual. And it is a nuts and bolts textbook. Like a classic textbook, it has dated picture. foundations, and the message within the book about how to size your clients, and how to create garments of a variety of types, is all inclusive. And so it comes with a textbook price, you know, around last time i priced It was 87, or something like that. But I would say that that's kind of really the Bible when it comes to foundation garment creation. And then there's draping on the form for lingerie. And I feel like that has merits to it because it gives a more precise introduction into how to drape on a dress form like this is a lingerie dress form right here, as opposed to just a regular dress form.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  13:06  
Would you tell us the difference between a lingerie and a regular dress form, just for our audience?

Megan Summerville  13:14  
The measurements on the lingerie form are more precise than a dress form. And so if I brought my other dress form around, you would notice that this center line right here isn't perfect, perfect, perfect. That there is some articulation going on. I don't know if you can see the top part here or not. But there's some articulation going on at the waistline and at the bust line. That is true to a 34 B, which in this in this part of the industry is what's considered sample size. And so everything is based off of 34 B, until you have an actual body in front of you, that is a different size that you're comparing those pattern modifications to. And so dress forms while they're nice and super handy. And like every designer ought to either have half form to be able to, you know, just hash out ideas or to get a student form, you know, and they run a couple 100 bucks, but they're not like three grand, like a 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  14:15  
Like a wolf. Yeah. 

Megan Summerville  14:19  
That's kind of the difference between those. And so as tools go, I would say that those books, and then having at least a form to start practicing on if you want to go into the specifics of foundation where I would definitely invest in a lingerie form because it'll pay in spades. So that's kind of where I came from. Post you on a part of your question about. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  14:46  
Oh, if there were designers that you found inspirational. I know you have yet that brilliant idea from your friend Anslee about how there's a difference between being inspired and being influenced. And so I was wondering If there were any particular designers or arrows in fashion that not in, influenced or inspired you and your work.

Megan Summerville  15:09  
I think that I'm from a now perspective that I'm really, really inspired by the student work that's coming out of what is that Institute of Art San Diego, I think that that's where that's housed. Um, but they, up until I think 2009, and I think they're still doing it, they would actually pay for a show at New York Fashion Week, where the students will talk, I think it was the top seven or top 10 students graduating that year that they will get to show at New York Fashion Week. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  13:10  
That's incredible. 

Megan Summerville  15:50  
I find from this transient focal point from the school to allow students to really do whatever they want to do, is really inspiring because they're not constrained with, well, the label looks like this. And, you know, the designer under this particular label has a certain aesthetic look and feel, and they remain safe in those design terms. I find that comforting and a fashion way like, Oh, you can always rely on this person to look like this. But if you're looking to really be inspired to push outside of normal Fashion Week, boundaries, it really is school shows that I find a lot of inspiration in makes so much sense. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  16:40  
It sounds like play. It sounds like joy. 

Megan Summerville  16:43  
Yeah.

Jonathan Joseph  16:44  
Right. Yeah. I mean, they don't have to get off to follow house codes, you know. So there's, it's more of an open canvas rather than a coloring book.

Megan Summerville  16:54  
And I find that that's just really cool. And then when I got to go to New York Fashion Week as part of winning Texas next top designer. When I received all of my tickets, I was like, I get to go to the Tadashi Shoji. So I had this moment of like, Oh, I want to remember everything. That for me was a really influential show. And I ended up waiting in line with one of his neighbors, who runs a pottery studio and everybody at the show got a piece of the pottery.  

Rachel Elspeth Gross  17:32  
Oh how cool.

Megan Summerville  17:33  
It was just fun. It was just like these moments where you build them up in your mind, you're like, I can't wait to see what this person is creating, and let it flow through me. But then you have the added personal moments of people that are inside of these artists lives, which is their experience. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  17:52  
Yeah. Wonderful. Jonathan, is there?

Jonathan Joseph  17:57  
 Oh, I was gonna comment, you know, that speaks to why I think fashion is such a unique art form that combines so many things I think every designer at all points in the process, is working with the construct of experience is working with creating a reactionary experience. And then when you add to it, the commercial piece where you're creating customer experience, if you're in the luxury sector, and it's all about experience. And I think that's why it's such a powerful tool for teaching kids because it's so holistic, and it touches on all these different soft skills at the same time. And so if there was a young kid who wanted to explore that meta creative space, what advice would you give them?

Megan Summerville  18:40  
Mostly, it's either experiment with your own style, every day. And if you're not feeling up to that, then experiment with your own creation every day. And so if it's like today, I'm going to really do my eyes, and I'm going to make them be the thing that speaks for me today. Or if it is refining it through, doing what I call warm up work, which is have a stack of things that needs to be sewn kind of in that back space of your mind, where you're just letting your mind run. You're actually warming up your sewing skill for the day to keep those warm up things close by and even if you're not inspired to create something new, at least you're keeping that skill set up by sewing things in a very precise way. And it's practice, practice, practice. And so as much as you can possibly do, whether it's, you know, creating that vision, the outward vision that you have as a designer, to other people, or just doing the busy work to keep your brain kind of in that brain space and your hands doing muscle memory, that all of these things then accumulate to what your vision is down the road.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  20:03  
It makes so much sense to me. I mean, the manual dexterity is so hard to maintain. If you don't do it, like you're saying every day, you know, you make you slip. So before we wrap up, Megan, one last question I have, um, what do you think is the one thing or one biggest personality trait, what has helped you the most, be who you are, make what you have? What do you think is a characteristic that people can strive for to, you know, have their own thing the way that you do?

Megan Summerville  20:35  
Um probably, again, that's that might be a two sided coin in that. One that you that you create the personality for your brand. And, for the most part, I am an introvert, I am in my basement. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  21:04  
Not on TikTok. (Laughing) 

Megan Summerville  21:07  
And I really find comfort in my, you know, my podcasts and just kind of letting my brain just kind of flow off and do whatever it wants to do while I'm doing this busier work. But it's also knowing the limits of love your day. So like we were talking about these technical issues at the beginning, like I just changed the thread and the bias tape on this machine, I am not going to sow with it today. So part of it is just being okay, I did my thing today. And tomorrow is going to be the day that I sew because if I get so wrapped up in with so much anxiety about how this beasty is going to work or the other one or the other one, that I'm not giving yourself space away to calm and be able to work with those machines and feel the rhythm of those machines, because they have them that you'll be fighting with it a lot more as opposed to like, I did my thing, I can move on to a different task that I know that is not going to disappoint me. 

Jonathan Joseph  22:22  
I like that description. I grew up riding horses, for my cerebral palsy and like, strengthen my legs. And there were some days as a hunter jumper, like sometimes your horse is just not going to do the thing you want it to do. And the day is like that, too. I love that. It's like you just got to cultivate that self awareness to know like, this is where we stop.

Megan Summerville  22:41  
Right, and it's okay to stop because at least you made progress. And people are so wrapped up in the volume of progress that is visible online to people, but it's not attainable. It really is.

Jonathan Joseph  22:56  
And there's a lot of people want instant gratification. You know, it reminds me something Gary Vee says, you know, to his younger fans, when they say oh, I want followers on my YouTube or I want followers on this note, just make what you love. And it will come just focus on the making the everyday the one after another. And I think that's true for anything worth pursuing. I think it's one of definitely the core lessons that we're putting together here at Little Red Fashion through it as many ways as we can to really think it's a common thread that runs through a lot of these interviews, really give kids tools and ways to be okay with incremental progress and learn to flourish through incremental progress instead of needing that instant gratification that social media and modern living kind of pushes down our throats in many ways.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  23:39  
I think that's a good lesson for the adults in our audience who are trying to cultivate stuff for the children, what whatever the relationship may be, but for the kids in their lives who want to pursue a career in fashion, the good not exactly what you both just said, acknowledging, you know incremental progress, acknowledging the worth of small steps, acknowledging the importance of going back to something that you care about and doing it every day. I think that's a big thing that matters to children, and that we should all maybe focus on if we want to help kids in our lives.

Jonathan Joseph  24:13  
I agree, couldn't have said it better myself.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  24:16  
All right, Megan, got any last words for us before we we sign off?

Megan Summerville  24:20  
No, but. No, that's not true. One, which is, you know, just let those ideas flow through you. You know, if you're a notebook person, or if you're keeping notes in your phone person, but even the little might be the thing. That just creates a lifetime of work for you and value in the fashion community. You never know.

Rachel Elspeth Gross  24:52  
Thank you, Megan, you've given us so much wonderful Insight. I'm so glad you were able to spare some time to talk with us today. 

Megan Summerville  24:59  
Thanks so much, I'm glad we were able to set it up. 

Jonathan Joseph  25:01  
I was, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I know that our viewers also appreciate it because it takes every member of the fashion community to make sure the next generation is fully empowered to step into the future whenever that future may hold so, I definitely appreciate having you as one of our Little Red Villagers, so thank you so much again. 

Megan Summerville  25:19  
Thank you. 

Jonathan Joseph  25:24  
Thank you so much for joining us and make sure that you follow up for more the transcript which will be up on the website soon. and tune in next Thursday as well for another round of I can do that with myself Rachel Elspeth Gross, our next guest bye, everyone. 

Rachel Elspeth Gross  25:39  
Bye

Jonathan Joseph

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Little Red Fashion Creator and CEO Jonathan Joseph is a fashion loving visionary & consultant who's loved fashion since childhood. After consulting in the luxury space for a bit, he was inspired to write The Little Red Dress. From there he realized kids who love fashion lack the same level of targeted resources from books to tech that their peers who love music or sports have had for ages. Our entire vision is dedicated to his mom, Margaret, who started his love of fashion as a kid looking for unique socks to cover his leg braces!

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