RADmag was lucky enough to get a chance to chat with Megan Campagnolo, the designer behind Toronto-famous brand Rosehound Apparel. The nostalgic line, which features pins, patches, and an abundance of cute accessories is sure to resonate in the hearts of 90’s babies alike. Rosehound currently has stockists both across the city (chances are you’ve seen her designs in stores like The Likely General or Coal Miner’s Daughter) and internationally, from the U.K to Japan. A former Ram and grad of Ryerson’s School of Fashion, here's our sit-down with Megan on how she started her own business, the importance of personal branding, and her plans for the future.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and where your love for design began...
When I was a kid I really wanted to be a writer, actually. I wrote so many novellas and even won a few contest prizes until I got to high school and couldn't really get past what the character was wearing. I began only really writing the beginning of stories which eventually became more fashion-esque drawings. I developed a sense of style when I was very young, and was the first in my grade to wear make-up (silver eyeliner in grade 4). I learned how to sew when I was 6, when my mom enrolled me in sewing school because she thought I was too young to use a machine.
So, you're a former Ram. Why Ryerson? Are there any particular highlights about your time spent there or how it encouraged your entrepreneurial spirits?
When I was 16 I stubbornly announced I was going to fashion school, and the most competitive program in Ontario for it was available at Ryerson. It was grueling...and years at school really diminished my love for it. I pressed on, took an extra year, and interned as much as possible. During that time, I interned for a similar business to mine, which folded. My frustration with that company really fuelled me into thinking, "I could do this".
How would you describe your brand? We recently wrote about how important personal branding is for the blog - how early on did you establish one for yourself?
I think that personal branding was integral to creating Rosehound. I get a ton of inspiration from the things I like, and have a very specific colour scheme that compliments everything I create. I think I began establishing my own personal brand when I was going into grade nine...and despite all of the phases I've been through since then, I find myself still interested in the same things. In grade nine is when I started hand painting sweaters, ripping jeans, collecting records, and watching camp movies like Rocky Horror Picture Show and Crybaby. It's crazy to see what repeats itself, and how nostalgia has really played into what I reference for Rosehound.
Rosehound really blew up- congratulations on that! When did you know you wanted to start your own brand? Can you tell us a little bit about your conception and design processes?
During my last few months at Ryerson, when we were creating our final graduation collection, is when it finally clicked that all along I wanted to be a designer. I was going through a big time Twin Peaks phase at the time, which shouldn't be surprising. Back then I knew that I wanted to do more casual wear, like shirts and sweatshirts and accessories. Most of my ideas come when I am watching movies or listening to music. I let them manifest in my mind until I have time to draw, and start doodling.
Now, let's talk business logistics: how much of this did you have to learn on your own?
I'm going to say that even though I learned how to sew everything from a leather jacket to a ball gown at Ryerson...my entrepreneurial skills were extremely limited coming out of school. A few poor financial decisions and years passed, and I still feel like I am walking around with my head cut off sometimes.
What would you say was one of the biggest challenges you faced in terms of growth and starting your own business?
For me, time management and future planning has always been an issue. I'm currently trying to get in the habit of starting on collections much earlier on than I currently do.
On the flip side, what's one piece of advice you'd give to grads looking to start their own brands, too…
I know it's insanely cliche, but don't give up! Sometimes things can take a year or two to get off the ground, which was completely the case for me. You'd be surprised how resourceful you can be, but I didn't see any money until almost a year after I started my brand, when pins started blowing up. You're constantly learning and have to keep your chin up. When things get crazy, I try to remember to go to Texworld in New York every January and July, where they have lots of great seminars that always centre me and remind me what I'm doing here. I am actually going next week.
To finish things off, let's talk a little about what's next for you? What are your goals for the brand in the next five years?
I'd love to focus more on clothing! I still want to create pins and patches, but I want to go back to what I originally started on. I'm also interested in taking a shoe-making course and a ceramics course to expand my brand into new mediums. Alex and I are planning to move to Los Angeles, where we can continue to grow.