Meet the creator of ThunderStomp Threadz, Megan. We caught up with Megan for a chat about the story behind her company, the fashion industry, sustainability, innovation, and much more.
Iuliana: Hey Megan! How are you? Let’s start off by introducing yourself.
Megan: I’m good! I’ve been staying busy expanding my business whilst relocating my home closer to family. For those who have not met me before… Hello! My name is Megan! I am the owner, designer, creator, and many other titles at ThunderStomp Threadz! So that you can know me a little better, here are some of my favorite bands: Greta Van Fleet, Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, Traffic, Funkadelic, and many others. I enjoy going hiking and being outdoors, spending time with my husband and two dogs, creating new stitch methods and designs for my business, and going to concerts!! One of my great joys is seeing my customers at shows wearing the pieces I’ve made just for them! Although I often try to get photos with any customers I see, I am actually a pretty introverted person. I like being able to be alone to create and innovate within my passion.
Iuliana: What are the main products ThunderStomp creates, and what key aspects make them more sustainable than conventionally-produced denim?
Megan: At ThunderStomp Threadz, I focus heavily on sustainably-made items. It does require a lot more work on my part to appropriately size and obtain the recycled materials needed to create an item for each customer. My customwear is created by using many different embroidery and stitching techniques that I decide on when designing the piece for a customer. Another aspect to my business that people may overlook is the sustainable effect of the “custom” pieces. I don’t just make a bunch of the same items at one time and wait until they sell, like many businesses do. In order to help cut down on waste of materials, energy, resources, etc, I don’t make anyone’s item until after they’ve ordered. While this choice has its cons such as longer wait times, I believe that it’s impactful enough for me to stick with.
Iuliana: A lot has changed since you started out in 2015. What’s the most significant and maybe most positive change you’ve noticed so far?
Megan: You’re certainly right about a lot having changed since then! In 2015, ThunderStomp Threadz was just a seedling.. I mean, heck, I was just a seedling. I was still in high school at this time, and ThunderStomp Threadz had a different name back then also! All that is a story for another time.. The most significant change I’ve personally noticed since 2015 is that the internet can be both friend and foe at once. It has become THE way to shop within the last decade, and I am thankful that we have it, as it’s been the way my business survives. If I had to go out to physical pop-ups every time I wanted to sell my items, here’s what would happen:
- I’d have no time for that, first of all, because it takes so long to make my items, and
- I’d be broke from not having time to go sell at physical events.
Those are the only reasons you really need to understand why the internet has been a blessing for my business. My choice to harness the power of the internet and turn it into a tool to grow my business is ever-changing, and is a constant learning curve with positive outcomes, generally!
Iuliana: What do you think about the fashion industry in general? What do you believe needs to change?
Megan: I think that the fashion industry is soiled. I don’t particularly like the “industry” due to its tendency to lie, manipulate, and shovel money into it’s schemes. I don’t subscribe to industry standards, in fact, I typically end up doing the opposite of whatever their “standards” actually are. All the largest manufacturers in fashion apparel will tell you their “standards,” when in actuality they’re just giving you a sales pitch. It’s what you want to hear them say! Most companies are inspected on their “standards” and reports are made public, but consumers typically don’t go check these reports before shopping. Consumers have become much more intelligent over the years though as many are catching onto the schemes of the fashion industry, but it’s all still largely overlooked. As far as high-fashion design goes, I don’t particularly endorse that either. Unrealistic body types are always represented and established as the “it” look in high-fashion, and it’s just another way of manipulating the audience/consumers. This manipulation often makes consumers feel that if they buy the outfit, they’ll be socially accepted as high-class, or if they buy the outfit they’ll look skinnier! While there is always some truth to every sales pitch, it’s largely a total manipulation of consumers’ feelings. They play on and with your feelings in a destructive way. I was a model for a short period of time before leaving the modeling industry, and from this industry’s perspective and my current one, I think that the fashion industry at large is an awful machine. Screw trends and screw “standards.” As a consumer, I just want to see what I naturally am drawn to for my body, and I want to see facts rather than slurred ideals.
Iuliana: A big part of sustainability is being transparent. But as a brand, can you actually show the consumer everything? What does transparency mean to you?
Megan: I agree for sure. As a small business, I try to be as transparent with my customers as possible. I don’t have enough feedback to know entirely what all my customer base would want to see, but I am certainly open to new methods of transparency! Generally transparency to me means that people who don’t know you well or at all want to know if you’re telling the truth. Because most of my customer base is familiar with me as an individual, I believe this is why they trust me at my word and understand that we are usually like-minded. I make it a point also to try to show many examples of my sustainability process to customers whether that be via email, Instagram stories, etc. I would definitely like to expand on the transparency of my brand on my website, and would love to hear feedback on what aspects to elaborate on!
Iuliana: How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal?
Megan: This is something that I’ve felt I’ve always had a knack for. Walking the line between being unique and having commercial appeal is metaphorically like making a trip across a tightrope over the Grand Canyon. If you step too far to one side, you’re going off into that canyon! It’s difficult to come back from having great commercial appeal to being truly unique and vice versa because they are opposites in my opinion. Reputation will follow your business and depending on which steps you take will determine whether you’ll be known as truly unique or having a solid commercial appeal. When you’re truly unique, you’re often seen as a bigger risk to everyone– a risk to consumers, to lenders, to collaborative businesses, to marketers, etc. When you have a solid commercial appeal, you aren’t seen as anything special– just predictable. I try to walk the line between these two defining traits by maintaining personal communication with each of my customers in addition to automated communication. This way I can maintain my credibility, reliability, and personality. My repeat customers know that it may take me a long time to fulfill their order in line, but they come back because I personally let them know why that is and the options they have. This type of communication is seldom experienced by the average consumer. They are receiving the predictable check-in emails from me with each order, but each time it’s a different conversation because they have ordered a unique item that comes with a unique strategy for execution on my part. Additionally, in order to maintain a balance between being unique and having commercial appeal, I try to share unique content on social media to my customer base. It’s not random stock videos.. It’s actual videos that I record myself of the items that I make with my hands. This is a unique move, but I actively try to maintain not going off the deep end of being unique. I don’t overshare in these videos; rather, I aim to maintain a commercially appealing, quality video and add a personal touch.
Iuliana: Is it hard to stay innovative? Where do you look for creative inspiration?
Megan: Some people may call BS on this answer, but no. I have a never-ending library of pure inspiration, and it’s called music. I guess God made me a pretty imaginative individual, but I think most people imagine countless scenes/images when listening to music. When I am preparing to create a design for a fan of Fleetwood Mac (for example), I like to play my customer’s favorite songs or albums by the artist when determining which of my ideas I’d like to bring to life. Music is a transcendent medium if you use it as one.
Iuliana: Tell us about the ThunderStomp Threadz Artist Program.
Megan: I thoroughly love the ThunderStomp Threadz Artist Program! I created this program back in 2019, and I have had a handful of young artists enter into it. The purpose of this program is to give encouragement to young artists who really do not know how to get their first clients or commissions going. I saw so many amazing, young artists, and they were struggling trying to do art while working a dead-end job that they hate. I obviously have been there, and if someone would’ve picked me up and offered me a first commission for my artistry, I would’ve been elated and encouraged, for certain. I believe that if a young person decides to be an artist as their career, then they are going to make it happen if they truly want it. Anyone with this mindset is someone who I want to be able to help take off. In this program, any young artist who thinks their work may fit well with the types of designs I make and embroider, may apply on our website. In the program, young artists are able to work with me on the process of turning their design into a wearable art piece. With each sale of that item, the artist will receive a commission from it as long as they want to keep allowing me to make it. This set-up allows for me to get their designing skills out into the public realm for all to see while still making a safe and effective investment in their future. Artists in this program are able to call themselves artists for ThunderStomp Threadz if they’d like, receive public recognition for their work, add me as a reference/ work experience for future commission work, receive a discount code to use in my shop if they so please, make recurring commissions, and more. The skill set that can be developed in this program is vast and a unique experience for each young artist. One artist who entered the program in 2019 is now on to huge feats, working with MTV, Sean Lennon (who follows us), and so many more!
Iuliana: Any favorite items?
Megan: I do have personal favorites from all the pieces I’ve created over time! I have too many to list, but some tops contenders would be: Infinite Wonders Customs (GVF), Solar Federation Custom (Rush), Dreams in Gold Custom (GVF), Strawberry Vision Custom (Beatles), Divine Rock Custom (KISS), Light My Love Custom (GVF), Broken Bells Custom (GVF), Red Hot Pepper Tee (RHCP), as well as many unreleased designs I’ve personally worn to shows.
Iuliana: What’s the story behind your Custom Denim?
Megan: My Custom Denim is a way to express your passion for a particular song, album, lyric, band, feeling, or anything important to you that you’ve found through music and want to be reminded of. It’s a way of bringing that personal passion and meaning to your mind when you seem to have forgotten it, and it’s a very sentimental item for most of my customers. Some customers do just want to have something badass and unique made of great quality, but a majority of customers really want all that with sentimentality underneath. That’s my favorite part of the process – taking what’s so powerful and meaningful to my customers and making it tangible in one of many ways.
Iuliana: What can one do that seeks to create a more sustainable closet?
Megan: My advice for anyone looking to create a more sustainable closet would be to shop high-quality, first and foremost. You’ll want to find something that you like that’s great quality so that it’ll last for a long time. Staple pieces in a closet that are high quality are a great tool to build outfits, using the same reliable item, repeatedly. The custom jackets/vests/coats that I make (for example) are a staple, high-quality piece to have in your wardrobe because they’ll last a long time, and you can look killer while creating different outfit combos. I realize that not everyone can afford handmade items that are made sustainably, but if you can then that’s the way to go! I offer interest-free payment plans for anyone who wants to go this route!
Iuliana: Where do you envision ThunderStomp Threadz in the future?
Megan: I envision ThunderStomp Threadz to be scaled up probably 3x the size it is now in the span of the next two years. I expect my customer base to continue expanding to new demographics and reaching new fans for more bands. Additionally, I expect to have a larger team trained over time to help me so that I can focus on completing Custom Requests much faster and working more 1-on-1 with bands’ styling.
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