The Spotlight Series: Megan Brosterman
Bathing Beauteas empowers high-impact women to be their best. Our products are inspired by stories of women in history. We can’t meet them over a cup of tea, so we met up with modern-day community leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators whose lives are stories worth making history.
Impact: Sustainable Fashion Brand Founder
Cultural Identity: Mother is Irish, Father is Scottish and Polish, Raised Catholic in a Philadelphia suburb
This is her story:
We got connected to Megan through the power of modern communication. A post on social media led us to her fashion company website, then produced countless heart eye emojis, and followed with an email that started our friendship.
Megan is the co-founder of a sustainable fashion brand that bridges cultures through the intersection of modern apparel and traditional craft. Victoria Road is an ethical fashion company with a mission of fostering cultural understanding. They work with emerging fashion designers in Pakistan to create women’s and children’s clothing. While most fashion companies outsource production by partnering with factories, Victoria Road goes above and beyond by running their own fair trade fashion workshop in Lahore, Pakistan. Here you’ll find everything from the design to the production process, optimized for the greatest social impact. You can check out her clothing line HERE and follow the Instagram HERE.
Victoria Road is all about bridging culture through fashion and business. Can you tell us more about your philosophy behind that?
MB: My father loved to travel so I grew up taking lots of trips and learning about other cultures. In this world now, it’s ever more important to foster understanding between cultures. A lot of issues stem from stereotypes and unwillingness to hear the other side. Victoria Road has created an opportunity to embrace intercultural dialogue, openness, and understanding. Our clothing allows Americans to wear beautiful Pakistani designs. My co-founder, Shannon, came up with the idea for Victoria Road when she began traveling to Pakistan frequently for work and came back to the U.S. wearing the beautiful clothes and jewelry she'd bought there. Many times compliments became a starting point for conversation about what she’d learned about Pakistani culture beyond what is covered on American news. On the other side, we’re seeing our local Pakistani team members change their own view of Americans.
What have you learned about culture and diversity through your work?
MB: I’ve learned that I have to keep listening. There’s so much I’m still learning about Pakistani culture. The way things are done there are not the way things are done here. As a business person, I have to wrap my head around the fact that neither culture is necessarily right or wrong, and I have to not expect people from another culture to operate in the same way that I’m used to. I have to be open.
What did you see in the fashion industry that helped you come up with your vision and model?
MB: The problem we want to solve is the imbalance we see in the developing and developed world when it comes to fashion. Traditionally, design and technical work happens only in developed countries, while production is pushed to developing nations. Naturally all of the value add happens in first world countries, while developing countries can only compete on price. This leads to a race to the bottom, but Victoria Road wants to build up the entire sector. We implement a vertically integrated model in Pakistan. Our production team does everything, from sampling to giving full input on how things are made. Everyone has ownership and there are opportunities to move into leadership positions. Watch this quick 4-minute clip to see how our 24-year old Head Designer, Farina Naimat, embodies this.
Where do you see hope in the fashion industry? How can people get involved?
MB: I see so much hope. Though things are still consumer driven, the Millennial generation - and really all generations - are becoming more socially conscious with what they buy and asking what companies are doing. It used to be that the fair trade brands were thought of not as “for everyone”, but today there are ethical fashion companies for any style! My advice is to keep paying attention. There are so many blogs and resources that promote good brands.
At Bathing Beauteas, we are amazed by mompreneurs like you. Any words of advice for other women who are already there or considering this life?
MB: No matter who you are, starting a business is all encompassing – it’s like having another baby! I chose this path so that I would have more flexibility - work when I want to, be with the kids when I want to. But the truth is that I have a full time job and am a full time parent. Plus my company is on the other side of the world. So it basically means I don’t sleep! There’s no “right time”, rather the right time is when your business is ready to take off. My startup allows me to have my own identity outside of being “mom”. Plus, my daughters (age 4 and 6) are big supporters, who appreciate that I’m home. They understand that not every mom has the opportunity to be with them so much, and I let them know that the life I’ve chosen is accessible to them.
How does your work empower women? How does relate to the legacy you want to leave for your daughters?
MB: Our whole mission is about changing perceptions. We are a women-owned company and we prioritize finding women suppliers and partners. For example, Farina is a 24-year old woman who is incredibly talented and takes charge at the factory. She didn’t go to an elite design school, but we’ve given her this opportunity to be Head Designer of a U.S. fashion brand and she’s really thriving. She says her friends and family are inspired by her and want this kind of future for their own daughters. In the same way, my own girls know that they can do anything. They know their mommy was a lawyer and chose to be an entrepreneur instead. They notice everything and understand what’s behind the choices I’m making. I bring them into my work and hope to inspire them with my actions.