Photography by: Jessica Ewald
Megan Hunt first appeared on my radar in 2008, when I was engaged and trolling the still fairly small online wedding blogosphere. Hunting for wedding inspiration, I saw Megan’s gorgeous vintage glam wedding, and her handmade felt bouquets were being carried by bride after bride. My interest piqued. I followed the online trail to her blog, Princess Lasertron, where I fell in love with her direct, off-the-cuff writing style and her quirky-confident fashion sense. Now she has an adorable little girl, a new business venture, Hello Holiday and a passion for inspiring women of all ages. You’re about to fall in love, too.
I first got to know you when I was engaged and your beautiful felt bouquets being featured on Weddingbee so often. They’re gorgeous and you’re the original creator to make and popularize these. Tell us a little bit about how Princess Lasertron came to be, and how you came up with that awesome name!
Thank you! I had no idea I’d been on your radar for so long — WeddingBee was a while ago. I started Princess Lasertron when I was 19. Like most lifestyle businesses, it began as a hobby and as word spread on blogs and websites, (like WeddingBee and many more), I found myself overwhelmed with work. That’s when I started hiring employees and founded CAMP, a shared workspace to house my team. At the height of Princess Lasertron‘s profitability in 2011, we had a four-person team working with over 450 brides each year.
This year has been a very changing year for me. I closed the co-working space I started in 2010 and scaled back the amount of bridal work I was taking on. I sort of had a crisis of purpose, questioning everything I had been trying to create, feeling like it wasn’t the right direction for me. I wanted to get more into the tech space, I wanted to change the ratio of women in business, and I wanted to help other fashion designers launch their collections, drawing from all of my experience. This all culminated with the launch of Hello Holiday, a new venture I co-founded in March. I had a crisis of purpose, questioning everything I had been trying to create, feeling like it wasn’t the right direction for me. We opened our online store at Hello-Holiday.com on October 1st, and we’re working on building a web-based crowdfunding application to help emerging designers manufacture their collections. Our goal is to use our online store to distribute collections from the indie fashion designers we’ve funded. Right now we’re enjoying sales and growth, and continuing to develop that side of the business.
As for the name Princess Lasertron, it came from a nickname my husband had for me. I thought about that name FOREVER before I picked it. It had to be memorable, it had to have a good cadence to it. It had to apply to my business as I continued to scale it. Personally I’m more of a “Lasertron” than a “Princess,” but I think the name represents the direction of the brand well.
How would you describe your style and what role does fashion play in your life?
Okay, let me tell you about my closet right now. It’s small, it’s in my bedroom next to my bed. On the rod there are hanging seven identical striped and solid-colored cotton shift dresses, a long leopard-print coat, and a short houndstooth jacket. On a tray on the floor there are a pair of dalmantian-print flats, black Dansko clogs, and black patent Mary Janes. This is all I have worn for the last three months, usually with a pair of colored tights pulled from my dresser drawer. I’ve never felt happier with my look. I’ve never felt more like myself.
I do have other clothes, but right now I’m just enjoying living out of this small closet.
This is extreme for me and I do have other clothes, but right now I’m just living out of this small closet. I just love unfussy clothing. I love clean lines, and I love feeling like I always have something to wear that makes me feel put-together.
Fashion as an industry can be so pretentious, so I think the best use of fashion is to make every day more festive, celebratory, to make yourself happy. I’m all about a friendly, accessible approach to fashion. Wearing something I love is the best way to lift myself up and escape the stress of my daily routine. I love the confidence of a person who loves how they look. They’re throwing sass out into the world and they know it. Fashion is a part of all of our identities, so let’s make it fun. That’s what we’re bringing everyday women in Hello Holiday.
You live in Omaha, which people might not realize is quite a hot bed of exciting creative talent. Fill us in on this movement and on your decision to create CAMP.
Yes, Omaha is a very exciting place to live right now. Our community is so supportive of the arts and design, small business and entrepreneurship, and we have an impressive growing scene of tech developers and startups. People here make magic overnight and my peers in the community are my biggest motivators–I just want to keep up with the progress and excitement! In 2010 I founded CAMP, Omaha’s first coworking space, in response to the growing needs of entrepreneurs who were looking for a stepping stone between their basements at home and a corporate office. It was a place for events, a place for businesses to work, hire, and grow, and a place for unexpected collaborations across industries. We don’t say “That can’t happen here.” In Omaha, we work hard and do it anyway. The project connected me deeply to the growing culture of do-ers here in the region, and although we closed in May, I think CAMP really helped start a coworking movement here. The best thing about Omaha right now is that people just don’t know what they can’t do. We don’t say “That can’t happen here.” In Omaha, we work hard and do it anyway.
What have been the most valuable lessons you’ve learned through starting multiple businesses? What advice would you give to women looking to follow in your footsteps?
My best advice is to work very hard, very smart, and set the standard higher for yourself. Don’t meet expectations, always aim to exceed them. I’ve never understood wanting to be “good enough.” I’m not a competitive person–that’s not where my motivation comes from. But I believe to do less than my best is a waste of both my and my customers’ time. When you have children, a family, a personal life, a second business–whatever it is that is demanding your attention–a lot of unexpected things happen that cause you to have to slow down or switch your focus. Show the world why you matter, don’t wait for it to ask you. Be very, very brave. So expect those challenges, and prepare for them by having a ridiculous work ethic. Jason Fried, founder of 37 Signals, said “Planning is just guessing.” So I say make your best guess, and think fast and smart when you have to change directions.
Never sell yourself short – you are good enough. Show the world why you matter, don’t wait for it to ask you. Be very, very brave.
You have a beautiful little toddler, Alice, to whom you write the most wonderful letters on your blog. Was motherhood a natural fit or was it a major adjustment? How do you balance the needs of this little person with the needs of a start up business?
Thank you. Motherhood is a journey and I’m still new to it. It felt much more natural at first, truthfully. I had no idea what was coming next. Now Alice is two-and-a-half and she’s much more of an individual. She’s got her own needs and ideas and questions and agenda for each day. Her mind wants to be challenged all the time, she’s always hungry for more to do, and some days it’s hard to keep up with her.
Every new phase of growth for her is a time for me to grow, too. We both stumble along at times but I hope someday she will be proud of the example I set for her. No matter what you do, whether you work or stay home, whatever you choose, and no matter how hard you try, I think we all get the feeling that we aren’t giving our children enough. But the truth is that the experiences I see Alice having every day show that clearly nothing is wrong with my life choices Every new phase of growth for Alice is a time for me to grow, too. or my child, or anyone else’s. I write her those letters every month–and share them on my blog–not only as a way to record the milestones and lessons of her childhood, but as a way for me to communicate with her from the past about my own transformation as her mother.
Do you have the opportunity to travel often? How do you make that work with a small child?
Several times each season, my business partner and I go on buying trips for Hello Holiday to meet with designers and source pieces for our shop. Those take between 4-7 days and we go alone. My husband stays home with Alice and my parents and friends help him. The situation is no different than a man going out of town for business. Childcare has to be arranged when he’s at work, and if he can’t take time off we just use who we can.
I never feel better than when I’m traveling. I love to feel like I’m in a new place. Whenever you cross a physical border, there’s always this subconscious implication of crossing internal boundaries as well. You can try new things, be a little more carefree. I’m planning a trip to Berlin in the next few months with Alice. Our goal is to move there for a longer period in the coming years so she can attend Kindergarten there.
You had a pretty intense year. Tell us a little about your realizations and how they’ve changed your outlook on life.
Intense is the right word–it was like a quarter-life crisis. I’ll focus on the career aspect. I had gained some success with Princess Lasertron, and I liked it. I liked the idea of maybe becoming a minor internet celebrity, having book deals, speaking tours, rejecting ads and interviews because they weren’t up to my standard… and then I just had a reality check. I had some rough interpersonal experiences that just made me hate what I was doing. I was on this track of gaining fame and money and reputation by sitting with my butt in a chair writing on a blog, by acting like I knew it all, by taking outfit photos next to interesting walls, and I felt like I was just climbing a bullshit imaginary fame ladder comparing myself to every other blogger I admired. It’s really embarrassing to look back on now. Before this year, I had not been emotionally challenged in a long time, so I didn’t feel the change when it started to come. I realized I had a lot of lessons to learn. I started to see blogging as a tool to share my real experiences and thoughts instead of a cliqueish “lifestyle business” that put my potential in a box.
I stopped wanting to use my blog as a platform to extoll bullshit lifestyle advice. I didn’t want to keep acting like I had it all together. I looked in the mirror and just felt like I had been playing a role because I didn’t want to “disappoint readers.” Really insecure stuff. I got a taste of how you have to “do blogging” and felt myself going to a very inauthentic place.
After that freak-out, (or maybe I’m still in the midst of it), I started to see blogging as a tool to share my real experiences and thoughts instead of a career or cliqueish “lifestyle business” that put my potential in a box. I started writing about my life again and things took sort of a feminist turn as I shared my experiences of discrimination in business, and my support for other women who felt judged for their lifestyle choices as mothers or career women or whatever. I do a lot. I manage two businesses and work hard to build community around the Omaha entrepreneurship scene. I love sharing my life–it’s what made me fall in love with the internet. I feels so nice to go back to doing that in a really honest, open way.
If you could change something about today’s culture for your daughter and for the future generation of women, what would it be?
Man, that’s a heavy question. I want my daughter to understand how powerful and important her voice is, and have the courage to use it. Have the courage to decide who she is instead of allowing others to tell her who they want her to be. I hope she is always guided by what she knows deep down is the truth, what she knows is the right thing to do, because when you have the courage to stand up for yourself, you’re also standing up for millions of others who couldn’t. I want my daughter to understand how powerful and important her voice is, and have the courage to use it.
These are changing times, this is a very unique and auspicious generation coming up now. These kids will have a lot of power and influence over the world as they grow up. My generation’s responsibility is to make that world a safe and empowering place for them.
How do you envision your future?
I envision myself working to a point where I have the freedom to travel often between Omaha and Berlin. I see myself continuing to use the magic of the internet to overshare all aspects of my life. And I see myself continuing to be both an activist in civil society and an advocate for women in business. I could never have predicted the course of my life up to this point–each year has been full of surprises and opportunities I never expected. So I just stay open to every gift and every challenge that comes my way. It always leads somewhere exciting.
Girl Friday is a phrase more common to the 1940s and 50s, defined as “a female employee who has a wide range of duties,” and is most recognizable from the film His Girl Friday. Here at Move LifeStyle, we’re resurrecting its saucy vibe for the title of our last column of the week which profiles inspiring women in the workforce. If you like this series, click here for more Girl Friday Interviews.