Megan Collins, Founder of Style Girlfriend
1. First of all, why are you "cool"?
I founded Style Girlfriend, an online men’s lifestyle platform and on-demand shopping service that helps guys all around the world look, feel, and act their best. And we offer that advice and style support from an all-female team.
2. Can you talk a little bit about how you took the leap to going out on your own and launching Style Girlfriend?
When I first graduated from college, I got into advertising, which I immediately realized wasn’t for me…and then I proceeded to stay in the industry for another four years. To keep my soul from turning into its own Horcrux, I started freelance writing on the side, and Style Girlfriend was born. First as a favor to a friend who’d launched an online suiting company and needed #content for his site, and then under its own domain when what started out as a weekly column kind of …blew up. Eventually, it didn’t make sense to be doing the thing that was slowly crushing my spirit full-time, and the thing that got me excited to get out of bed as a “fit it in nights and weekends” side hustle. So I took the leap and dove into working on Style Girlfriend for a living. Five years later, I still feel like I’m falling off that same cliff in a Groundhog Day kind of way every single day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
3. What did those around you think about you making this move? What were the most constructive comments you got & what were the most destructive comments you got? How did you internalize the latter and still move forward?
I’m my own worst enemy, honestly, so at first - and, uh, still today - I had to deal with a lot of imposter syndrome bullshit. You’re not a real writer. You don’t know how to run a company. And yet, here I was: Writing, running a company. I have a big thing with how “Fake it ‘til you make it” is the worst axiom, because if you’re doing a thing — anything — you’re doing it. You might be doing it badly, or you might see so clearly the gap between what you want a thing to be and what it actually is so acutely that it makes you want to throw your laptop out the window when you pull your work up on the screen, but you’re doing it. So that’s a phrase I find really unhelpful. I’m not faking it. I’m making it - maybe in an ugly, janky way - but I’m making it. So I like the idea of “Make it (do the damn thing) until you make it (i.e., see external success).”
The most constructive comment I got was from my boyfriend at the time, who cut off my imposter syndrome bullshit by telling me, “There are a lot of people out there doing more with less.” I still think about that when I get frustrated by our page views for the month, or down on myself about things I don’t know how to do (which is still…a lot). But I check myself with this saying quite a lot, and it keeps me from making excuses for why I’m not where I want to be. There are people out there doing more with less talent, money, support, whatever’ than me - and sure, there are also plenty of folks doing more with more of all that, but it’s not really useful to think about that. What’s important is that I get myself out of a self-pity party and get up off my ass and figure out what I can do.
4. You deal in a very interesting space. You have to assume a position of authority on men’s fashion & lifestyle. Do you always feel confident in this? Is this something that comes naturally do you?
From the jump, I always said that Style Girlfriend was a site about living with style, not a fashion blog. Because there are certainly outlets out there for guys who care about fashion with a capital “F.” And they’re doing their thing, and that’s great. That’s…not us. We’re not covering trends, or sneaker drops, or who wore what to some awards show. Not really, anyway. We’re about helping guys up their game across the board, and when it comes to what guys wear, most of that stuff is more timeless anyway. Tuck your shirt in. Get your pants tailored. Put some product in your hair.
More recently, we’ve really doubled down on the idea that living with style is about more than just what you wear, though. It’s about being a decent guy, an honorable guy. And we know that can be confusing, and it feels good to sort of put your tour guide hat on, raise your flag and say, “Here we go. Keep up with the group because the bus isn’t waiting for you.”
The truth of the matter is, I’m a woman who knows what I want to see a guy wearing, and how I want a guy to act around me. So that gives me authority to speak on the matter. Along with my team, we’ve been able to develop a level of trust with our audience so when we say a pair of jeans will look good on them, they’re like, “Great. What’s next on my never-ending to do list?” Or when we suggest that maybe they’re not being as great an ally as they think they’re being, they’ll actually stop and consider it.
Depending on the day, I might feel more confident in an opinion about an outfit I’m excited to feature, or in a story about gender issues I want our followers to weigh in on. You never want to let something slide through that you don’t feel represents your ideas and your vision. Last year I didn’t check a new freelancer’s work carefully enough, and these hideous square toe shoes went up on the site and I was just like, “Arghhh.” But that’s more about figuring out how to scale and learn to take your eyeballs off every single thing without it affecting the quality of the work, and that’s a Q&A for another day.
5. Do you feel that you have to assume a certain “work” personality vs. your natural personality in order to deal with so many men on a daily basis? Or are they one and the same?
So this is interesting. I recently stopped taking drinks meetings with men - potential clients, investors, etc - because I found the dynamic never really worked in my favor. A few too many times, I’d get a text when I got home, or an email the next morning that would be like, “I’d love to take you to dinner” and once the guy tries to take it there, you’re never going to pull it back into a productive, professional relationship.
On the one hand, I get it. Everyone’s just trying to find love. But when that search interferes with my revenue stream, I’ve gotta do something about it. And I’m not here saying I’m every brand manager and VC’s manic pixie dream girl in waiting, it’s just…the vibe over cocktails after work is a lot different than the vibe over a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I’d rather keep things on the daytime coffee vibe.
So yeah, I think about it a lot.
I also am pretty close to the vest about when I’m actually in a relationship, because I think in a weird way that it ruins the illusion for our audience that I’m truly their “style girlfriend”. I know that sounds crazy, but it kind of goes back to when you were a kid and you really didn’t want Justin Timberlake to be dating Britney Spears because you and he both loved the color blue and both were the ‘shy’ one or whatever. We want our people to be accessible, and it kind of ruins it if you’re posting pics with your boyfriend.
Not to say I’ll never introduce someone into the mix, but I guess it’s sort of like a divorcee introducing their new beau to their kids. You’ve gotta be pretty sure they’re going to stick around awhile.
6. When you look at your (REAL) self from the outside, how would you describe yourself in 2 sentences? When others look at you, how do you think they'd describe you in 2 sentences?
I work more than I’d like…but I’m working on that. Somehow both more sensitive and meaner than I appear.
How others would describe me: I have no idea! Will let you answer this?!?!
FIND MEGAN at @stylegf