5 Minutes/5 Questions with Meagan Ollari

An interview series that explores success and mental well-being.

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Designer and Founder Meagan Ollari’s namesake womenswear brand, Ollari merges effortless silhouettes of the West with the rich intricacies of the East. Launched in 2015 in New York City, the brand is a love letter to Meagan’s own world-wide travels.  This is detailed by her exclusive embroidery motifs, intricate hand beadwork, novel fabrications, bold patterns and rich color palettes paired with feminine and flowing silhouettes.

Ollari has showcased at both New York and London Fashion weeks with features in Forbes, Vogue UK, Vanity Fair and BELLA Magazine Los Angeles. Ollari collections are now stocked at Anthropologie, Free People and specialty boutiques across the world. 

In 2018, Meagan took a leap of faith and re-located to New Delhi, India. Since then, both her professional and personal life has thrived.

“Take risks, journey whenever possible, and live your best life for YOU- just make sure you look like a Queen while doing it”.

Meagan Ollari

Here are 5 Minutes/ 5 Questions with designer and founder, Meagan Ollari:

What was the initiating incident that made you take the leap to move from NYC to New Delhi? 

MO: I had been traveling back and forth from New York to New Delhi for a few years before I made the leap. They were short, productive and meaningful trips of designing, sourcing and photoshoots. Each time I visited, I just loved that feeling of roaming the world solo and following my creative intuition with nothing holding me back. For the first time, I was in full control of my creative process: from sourcing to conceptualising all the way through to execution. Being hands on with my craft while in a completely new country surrounded by inspiration and a plethora of options was something I had never experienced before and it was the best feeling. It was exciting and fresh and I knew THIS right here was meant for me. I barely knew anyone in India but gradually made my connections- some short-lived and some still intact still to this day. 

The “aha” moment came in April, 2018 when on a trip to Delhi to source and produce my latest sample collection for spring/summer 2019. I had just successfully completed S.N. Goenka’s  10-day silent vipassana course in Pushkar, Rajasthan. (this entailed no speaking, no phones, no distractions- only meditating for 10 hours a day and cut-off from the outside world).  I had arrived back to Delhi and was checking on a small production run I did for 15 pieces each across 12 styles.  It was a nightmare to say the least: embroidery and fabrics cheaper quality than I had approved, costs higher than promised and overall production poorly executed.  I thought to myself, if they could manage to mess up such a small order when I am not physically managing the process, what will happen when that day comes when a major retailer orders 10,000 units from me?! It was a scary internal moment for me , I just knew something had to change. The traditional “sourcing from overseas” while sitting in New York business model just would not work for the brand that I was trying to build.  

It was an easy decision to be honest and one that felt so “obvious”, like this huge life transition was as easy as choosing chocolate ice cream over vanilla. I designed the heart out of my new collection, flew home to New York and packed up my Queen’s apartment. That summer in 2018 was my last summer living in the U.S, and I haven’t looked back since. 

With the move to New Delhi, how has your brand, Ollari, evolved? 

MO: Ten folds. The evolution and progress is immense, grand and amazing! I kind of get teary eyed when thinking about it actually. That one key decision to make such a life-changing shift, both personally and professionally really changed my business and my life. 

I am in the fabric and trim markets weekly sourcing new material, communicating with suppliers and vendors to get what we need done correctly and on time. The speed at which I churn out new designs and collections out is now cut in half compared to when I was in sitting in New York.  I am able to oversee all beadwork, patterns and stitching on a daily basis working with the sampling department and am on the production floor supervising every last detail -from trims to pressing and packing before it gets shipped to the customer. 

It’s been a game changer to say the least!

Congratulations! Ollari is now carried in Anthropologie! What have you learned in the process?

MO: Thank you! It’s all very exciting. 

Through the process I discovered I knew more than I thought and to ALWAYS maintain that confidence, even when the fears and doubts start to creep in. I’ve learned to follow both my creative and business-minded instincts and that transparency, honesty and passion really do go a long way in this industry.

Persistence is key and although it sounds redundant and quite cheesy, being consistent through even the lowest of times on this roller coaster of entrepreneurship, makes all the difference in the world. 

What are three tips you can share with those wanting to get into fashion as a career?

MO:

Work towards it and WORK HARD. Nothing is handed to you, your dreams aren’t built overnight.

Build your network and always entertain opportunities that arise, even if you don’t initially think it will benefit you. 

Follow your gut, represent yourself and only yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone you’re not. Always stay true to you- it will pay off. 

My book, The Love List changed my life. What are the top three characteristics on your Love List (characteristics or qualities you are looking for in a potential mate or current mate)?

MO: So exciting, I love the “The Love List” and everything it stands for! The top 3 characteristics I look for in a mate (I am so blessed to have a husband that checks all the boxes on my list!) 

1). Honesty & loyalty. My #1! If there is no trust or loyalty, then there is no love, joy or longevity that can blossom. 

2). A great sense of humor. I love a good laugh and goofing off!

3). Ambition. He needs to have dreams, goals and an innate hunger to succeed. 

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