Jessica: Hey friends, it’s Jessica Honegger, founder of the socially conscious fashion brand, Noonday Collection, and this is the Going Scared podcast, where we cover all things impact, entrepreneurship, and courage. And guys, I am ready to meet you in person next week. Starting next week I am going to be hitting the pavement, coming to a city near you. If you live near Austin, Dallas, Nashville, Atlanta, San Antonio, or Minneapolis, I want to meet you. I ran into a listener about a month ago in the Nashville Airport, she recognized me because of my voice. She’s like, "Are you Jessica Honegger with the Going Scared podcast?" It was so much fun to meet a listener randomly in the wild and I want to meet you, so head on over to jessicahonegger.com to get all the details on my book tour.
Now, as a reminder, this podcast series is a part of a special series that we’re doing alongside my book, Imperfect Courage. And you can actually order the book now and you will get three chapters for free. The first three chapters will get sent to you. Also, if you order the book now you get a chance to win the entire Noonday Collection fall line. You also get added to an exclusive Facebook group where I’m gonna coach us all through how to simply go scared, and you get a free digital workbook that goes alongside the book. So go ahead, order the book now, it’ll get to you like in a week at this point. And if you want all of those pre-ordered goodies, just head on over to my website data form and we’ll make sure that you get everything that I just promised you.
Megan Tamte—CEO and Mother
So today’s series, we are going through Chapter 3, and Chapter 3 is called "Step into Your Story." And I knew that I wanted to have Megan Tamte on the show for this story. Megan is the CEO of Evereve, a woman’s retail brand with 85 stores across the country. She has over 1,500 employees, and she is a leader that I seek to emulate. She has done the hard work of what it takes to be the kind of leader of influence that you want to follow, and I know you’re gonna glean so much wisdom from her today because honestly, she is built with wisdom. I respect Evereve because their stylist in the stores are committed to really serving women. They help them feel beautiful and powerful and good about themselves. And I’m someone who can feel kind of insecure when walking into a new store because I don’t know what sizes are gonna fit or what brands they carry and I have loved my shopping experiences at Evereve. In fact, I’ve loved it so much that I’m going to be doing a takeover on their Insta Stories and Facebook this week walking you through some fall trends and matching some of those fall trends and fall clothes with some of our Noonday Collection accessories. So definitely, go give them a follow and check them out.
“I’m someone who can feel kind of insecure when walking into a new store because I don’t know what sizes are gonna fit or what brands they carry and I have loved my shopping experiences at Evereve.” Jessica Honegger
So today’s episode is, we are going to be really talking about what it means to step into your story. Megan’s dream had always been motherhood, but she found herself stuck in what she called a motherhood trap as a stay at home mom. And it was disaster a shopping trip to the mall which led to be the catalyst for Evereve and the catalyst for stepping into her story, so check it out.
OK, so we had breakfast a few months ago here in Austin when you were visiting one of your stores, and I think it basically turned into brunch and then lunch. I had such a great time talking to you.
Megan: I know. I feel like we have so much in common and so much of our stories are similar. It was really fun to connect with you that day.
Jessica: Yeah, there are not many women who are running fashion brands that they’ve been able to scale, who are also walking with God and mumming it and living on purpose, and I just felt so much kindred spirit with you and that’s why I’m really looking forward to our convo today.
I feel like we have so much in common and so much of our stories are similar.
Megan: I know, and it’s gonna be fun.
Jessica: OK. So, give us the Evereve 101.
Motherhood and Invention
“The whole founding of the company was based on my experience looking for fashion as a mom who was busy taking care of my family.” Megan Tamte
Megan: OK. I’ll try to make it as quick as I can. In terms of who we are and what we do, we are a fashion and styling brand, and we specialize in serving and styling moms because the whole founding of the company was based on my experience looking for fashion as a mom who was busy taking care of my family. I basically had a terrible, awful, trip to the shopping mall when I was busy mothering my young kids, and after looking for fashion one day, I came home empty-handed and crying and wondering if anybody ever thought of the idea of starting a fashion company that would make fashion accessible and easy for moms because my experience was after having children, fashion just fell on the bottom of my to-do list and I didn’t have time for myself. I was taking care of my kids, but yet, I really wanted to look good, I really wanted to feel good, so I had this moment that in the car on the way home from the experience, this thought that someone should start a fashion brand that specialized in styling and serving moms. And that was really how our company started and we currently have 85 stores across the country. We have a really great e-Com business, and then a new subscription styling service that’s called Trendsend, which is an extension of the Evereve styling experience. So that’s a little bit about who we are and how we began.
“And really that’s what I wanted to create, a safe place where women could come and just ask for help and just have us be the experts and us hold their hands and really just look at their body type, look at their lifestyle, look at their sense of style, and then guide them to clothing that made them feel good.” Megan Tamte
Jessica: I love hearing just this moment of vulnerability. Obviously, you’re crying, you’re like, "This is not what I was setting out to do” when you went shopping. What do you think it is? Those moments that we all have, we still have them? It’s swimsuit season right now. Whatever it is, we have those moments where we feel like we aren’t measuring up or we’re not worthy to be in the dressing room or whatever it is, how have you started a brand that is uniquely, sort of, loving administering to that woman in that vulnerable moment?
Megan: Yeah. Well, I think the first thing we realized, you know, I realized is, I just wanted help. So I was so busy taking care of my family, taking care of my kids, dressing my kids. We know how hard it is to dress children. And when you have three kids and, you know, every season you have to change out their clothes and buy new clothes, everybody is different sizes then you can figure out what to do with the old clothes.
Jessica: It’s like out of all time.
Megan: I know, it just was like, by the time it came to shopping for clothes for me I just didn’t have the energy. I just didn’t have the time. I just…I wanted someone to hold my hand, to put me in a dressing room, to hug me, and to say, "I’m gonna help you. I’m gonna make you look good and we’re gonna make this real fast." I didn’t have a lot of time on my hands. "We’re gonna make this real quick and we’re going to help you." And really that’s what I wanted to create, a safe place where women could come and just ask for help and just have us be the experts and us hold their hands and really just look at their body type, look at their lifestyle, look at their sense of style, and then guide them to clothing that made them feel good. That’s really what I wanted to create with this concept.
Realizing an Unexpected Dream
Megan: I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I never saw myself in fashion. I never saw myself in retail. I really saw myself as the teacher and a mom and a wife.
Jessica: So tell me a little bit more about the journey between the moment you are crying in the car with your little girl to then the moment where you are opening your first storefront?
Megan: Well, it was about a seven-year journey from the very…
Jessica: Seven years?
Megan: Seven years, yes, seven years from the time I had that moment in the car of like, “Someone should create a store that specializes in helping moms feel good in fashion." And from the time we opened our very first store, it was about seven years, and it was a really interesting journey for me which started out a lot of just dreaming and ideas and having this, really this brand that I created in my head that was never supposed to happen. It was never supposed to be a reality. It was always a dream, this idea that I had created, the store that I named. I had it all figured out in my head and I had created it for many years, but it was really, I never thought it was supposed to happen.
Although I talked about it all the time and I would light up, and when I would talk about it, my hands would wave and I get real passionate and smile, but it was never supposed to happen because I was a third-grade teacher turned stay-at-home mom. I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I never saw myself in fashion. I never saw myself in retail. I really saw myself as the teacher and a mom and a wife. And so it was a lot of dreaming and I would say that best way to describe it would be after about five years of dreaming, I hit a funk. I don’t know if I would call it depression because I was still very active and, you know, I just hit a funk. I was watching a lot of reality TV, I was crying a lot at night, and I was having sleeping issues. I was not sleeping very well.
“It was never supposed to be a reality. It was always a dream, this idea that I had created, the store that I named. I had it all figured out in my head and I had created it for many years, but it was really, I never thought it was supposed to happen.” Megan Tamte
Jessica: I would classify this as depression. I think we can call it that. I’ve been there too so let’s just name it.
Megan: Yeah, I mean, that was depression, but I was just in this, you know, state that just didn’t feel good. So, I just had to do some deep soul-searching and decided to get up early every morning and try to figure out what was going on, what was wrong with me, and it was through this time of reflection that I, kind of, figured it out that I think I have this dream…that I am made like…I was needed to create. This idea, this dream needed to actually be born, and that was the first time that I, kind of, thought to myself, "Wow, maybe this thing that I’m so excited about, this thing that’s my creation in my head, maybe it really does need to happen." And so then, I just, kind of, came to terms with that question and then spent about a year just, sort of, internally, kind of, reflecting on all the fears that came along with that. The fear of "Well, if I can’t do this. I don’t have like training to do this." Or "I can’t do this, we don’t have the money to start this company." Or "If I do this, you know, it’s gonna harm my children." I was flooded with a bunch of fears next.
And then just through a lot of refection, I really spent about two years in just deep prayer, deep reflection, a lot of reading, a lot of soul-searching. I did a lot of work and really came to the conclusion one day that I think this is what I was created to do. I think I need to do this. And with my husband, who is my business partner, with his urging, one day he just encouraged me to take all the dreams that were in my head. I decided I was gonna stop watching TV at night and I was going to turn the TV off and I was going to just pour out all the dreams that had been in my head for so many years onto a piece of paper. It was so sweet, my husband said to me, “You know, just write them all down, get them all out, just every dream you’ve had." And so I just wrote and wrote and wrote this, you know, all the thoughts I had about this brand on a piece of paper and did that for about three months. And then, my husband who is my, I mentioned my business partner, he came in and he put numbers to that dream. And he said after, you know, kind of, worked his magic and created a business plan and we sat down one night after he, kind of, did his magic, and then took my creation and he added his work to it. And he just looked at me one night, he said, "OK, to make this thing work you’re gonna have to, you know, sell about $1,500 a day in that first store at that time to make this work. Do you think you can do that?"
“I really spent about two years in just deep prayer, deep reflection, a lot of reading, a lot of soul-searching. I did a lot of work and really came to the conclusion one day that I think this is what I was created to do.” Megan Tamte
And I remember thinking about it and thinking, “I think I could do that,” and a couple of days later I, kind of, we met again and I said, "You know, I think we can do this. I think I can sell $1,500 a day in that first store for us to break even." And so that’s, kind of, where we started the journey, and then it was, you know, getting the lease on the first store and deciding that, and that’s really how it began is it came down to a dream then came down to a number, which I like to talk about, because the reality is this dream has to work financially and so we did look at that number and I did believe we could do that if I worked really hard and kept to an open learning heart. So we signed the lease of our first store here in Edina, Minnesota, and all I can say then is the learning journey began, which you know a lot about, right?
Megan: We became just…we ran to the library right after signing the lease on our first store. We signed the million personal guarantee and we didn’t have a million dollars, so it was like, "We are gonna have to figure this out." And we literally…I run to the library and literally asked the librarian like "I’m opening a store, can you guide me to the right shelf where I can find a book to help me," and I’m not kidding like it’s the truth. And I came home with like 10 books that night and gratefully was able to find some books to really help me figure out how we were gonna do this, build this company.
Jessica: OK, I want to back up for a second to these two years.
Reawakening a Sense of Purposes
Jessica: So you’re in a funk and you’ve had this dream, which I think so many of us are comforted by our dreams. We almost escape into our dreams, especially when we are in the weeds of young motherhood which is such a challenging time of identity crisis and…so your story of, like, escaping into this dream, and then you’re hitting rock bottom because you’re realizing, "I’m not living into my purposes. There is something throughout there that I meant to do in the world and I actually needed to do it not just think about it." And then you go into this period of really exploring what are the limiting beliefs that are holding you back from actually getting to that storefront. And I’m curious what is at the core, like, did you get to that core fear, was it a fear of failure, or what others would think. Like, what in you was able to, sort of, name that fear and realize that you are not gonna let that fear have power over you. You are going to walk through that fear.
“We almost escape into our dreams, especially when we are in the weeds of young motherhood which is such a challenging time of identity crisis” Jessica Honegger
Megan: Yeah. I think I had gotten my hands on a book and everybody asks me what book it was and I don’t really remember because it was so long ago. But I had read, I was reading a lot of books about purpose at that time and read a book that really encouraged me to look at who I was. I think it was like in fifth grade, you know, who were you…who was that kid in fifth grade before the world, kind of, got their hands on you and started like guiding you into who you should be or, you know, before you really influenced fully by the world or by your family or by your friends.
So, whoever wrote this book, you know, posed that question, and so a big "aha" moment for me was when I really sat down and reflected on who I was in fifth grade. And when I thought about it, I was the girl that loved selling things. I always, always would beg my mom to have a garage sale and would clean the basement out every summer and sell things like—do a whole store, you know, put a whole store together in our garage every summer. I started businesses on the playground of my elementary school. I had a little business that I would take pictures of cute boys on the playground, I would develop the film, and the next day bring the pictures back and sell them to the girls on the playground. And I did it all so I could buy my first pair of Guess jeans.
“When I thought about it, I was the girl that loved selling things. I always, always would beg my mom to have a garage sale and would clean the basement out every summer and sell things like—do a whole store, you know, put a whole store together in our garage every summer.” Megan Tamte
So, when I was thinking hell like, "Who was I?" I guess I had always been, you know, raised to think I had a dad that was a principal, mom that was a teacher. I, sort of, kind of, was just raised to think that you know, I was gonna be a teacher. I definitely knew I wanted to be a mom. I saw hints in my design, very young, and wanting to be a mom. I was super into children, loved nurturing, loved playing with dolls, always dreamed about being a mom. But I also had decided, that I just never really thought about before, this woman that loved…this girl that loved to sell things, this girl that loved to create businesses, very entrepreneur. I saw very entrepreneurial hints of myself when I really—I really reflected on what I liked to do as a kid. So that and the fact that I always did it to buy clothes.
Jessica: That’s amazing.
Megan: I made it funny, you know, like why didn’t you do all that stuff? because I care, I loved fashion, I’ve always loved brands, I’ve always been just naturally like into like clothing and fashion. And I’ve always just gravitated in that direction. And so, I just had this moment after that like, you know, where I ask myself, "What if this is you? What if you are a salesperson? What if you are an entrepreneur? What if you…like fashion is…like you’re created to do this like, to be in fashion?" I think those are the kinds of things that I started to really think about, "Who am I? And who was I before? Who did God created me to be?" And that really gave me a lot of courage—a lot. When I had that…whoever that author is I wish I knew who it was because I would hug him and say, "Thank you. You really gave me the courage to do this."
“I didn’t know if I could do it, but I certainly felt hints like…it was the first time where I thought maybe this is what [I was] created to do.” Megan Tamte
Jessica: Because you were able to own your identity and who you were and the gifts that you had to bring to the world.
Megan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I think, yeah, absolutely. I was able to really own them and see that and really understand it. And I was raised, you know, by a principal and a teacher, lots of educators in my life. I went to a great church with lots of nurses and lots of people doing great things. I didn’t have a lot of entrepreneurs in my world. I don’t have a lot of… I didn’t have any fashion leader in my world. I just never thought about that growing up. I just never saw myself there, but I really do believe this is how God made me. He made me to be an entrepreneur and a businesswoman, and a woman that is in the fashion business. I saw hints of that when I really reflected, and, yeah, that gave me just, such…it gave me the courage to take the next step. I didn’t know if I could do it, but I certainly felt hints like this…it was the first time where I thought maybe this is what [I was] created to do.
Jessica: This is me. This is me.
Megan: Yeah, this is me. Oh, yeah, totally, that’s right. I’ve listened to that song very loudly in our car. I love it, so, yeah. That was a very important moment for me in that time of reflection.
“You were able to own your identity and who you were and the gifts that you had to bring to the world.” Jessica Honegger
Stepping into New Stories of Motherhood
“It is fun now to be able to reflect with my daughter who’s 21 and ask her about her experience, and to understand in her mind what this felt like watching her mom literally rise off the couch and, you know, turn into this businesswoman right in front of her eyes.” Megan Tamte
Jessica: And so, you hinted that you had fear around your parenting. Could you be an entrepreneur and a good mom?
Jessica: And your kids are older now, you have an amazing daughter who is 20. Tell me, as you reflect now, I’m thinking about the young mom who’s stuck in that place and, you know, we’ve talked about this. I was stuck in that same place, I grew up with a stay-at-home mom, I didn’t have that model where I could pour in 40, 50, 70 hours a week at work and also raise beautiful human beings that were tiny people. Give us hope for the journey.
Megan: Yeah. Well, I think I mean it is fun now to be able to reflect with my daughter who’s 21 and ask her about her experience, and to understand in her mind what this felt like watching her mom literally rise off the couch and, you know, turn into this businesswoman right in front of her eyes. And I think for me, there was a lot of fear. And I would say the thing that I’m probably the most proud of in the journey is that I have prioritized my family and the business. And it was not always easy, but I always felt like if I’m gonna do this, I just have to prioritize. I can’t ruin my kids—like I can’t not be a good mom…like I’m not gonna do that. Like I’m not gonna start this business and not be a good mom. And I, definitely, my husband and I, we were so, it’s so geeky but it was so helpful. We really…before we signed the lease, we, kind of, looked at each other and we said, "OK, we’re gonna pick three top priorities right now and what are they?" And they’re gonna be our faith, our family, and then our business…like those are our things right now for this period in our life and everything else that doesn’t fit within that just doesn’t happen.
And so we were really, for a very long time, very intense with what we said yes to and what we said no to, and made a lot of sacrifices. Now, looking back on it 21 years later, I’m very grateful we really made a lot of sacrifices and really stayed focused on our top priorities, but I think that was really…I’m really proud of that because I do feel like I was present, I was available, I was around. Sure, I was running a business, but if I wasn’t at work, I was home. Don’t tell people I’m on a podcast, but I was at home in my sweatpants like with the kids on a Friday night. You know, I was not out socializing very much. Very much in the family when I was not at work.
“For me, I just also feel like just living into who I am is the best gift that I felt I could give to my family…” Megan Tamte
And so I think that was really, really helpful. But for me, I just also feel like just living into who I am is the best gift that I felt I could give to my family…it’s the journey…showing my kids the journey of just becoming who you were created to be. And like I said, most of what my kids have seen is not the glory of building this business, but it’s been the hard stuff. It’s been…they’ve seen their mom really scared. They’ve seen their mom really try things out of her comfort zone. They’ve seen me take risks. They’ve seen me make mistakes. They’ve seen me crying at night or, you know, have a headache because this…I don’t have to answer a problem. But I think the journey of watching this happen has been very valuable to them. And I always laugh and think about, you know, who I am at the dinner table and usually at night we’re happy, we’re excited, we’re passionate, we’re talking about our business. And then I think of the woman that I was, you know, when they were little, thinking I was a perfect mom. But I was on the couch, you know, really sad.
“That’s important I think for kids to see us moms as happy and fulfilled and passionate and alive and excited versus, you know, what I was, which was, kind of, laying on the couch every night, kind of, feeling sad.” Megan Tamte
So I often remind myself and think, "Wow, I think that this idea of going for it, you know, really this journey has really made me happy." And Allison…when I did ask her, "You know, what do you remember most about this?" She goes, "That I had a really happy mom." And that feels really…that’s important I think for kids to see us moms as happy and fulfilled and passionate and alive and excited versus, you know, what I was, which was, kind of, laying on the couch every night, kind of, feeling sad. So I do think that’s important.
Jessica: All right, I’m popping in real quick just to let you know that Megan offered to give Going Scared listeners a special discount. All you need to do is sign up for my email list and we will give you a discount code for Evereve. So head on over to jessicahonegger.com to sign up, also, go follow Evereve @evereveofficial on Instagram and Facebook and keep an eye out for yours truly. I’m doing a takeover this week. So I’m going to head on over to the Austin Evereve store where I’m gonna be telling you all about the latest trends for fall and how you can use accessories like Noonday accessories to create a variety of great fall looks using your basic clothing items. I will see you there. Back to my conversation with Megan.
Balancing Motherhood and Mission
Megan: I think a lot of my view on what made a good mom was being the perfect mom. And that has changed a lot in this journey of building this business. I had to let go of a lot of perfection.
Jessica: Did your definition of being a good mom, you said you wanted to be a good mom, so did you change that definition?
Megan: Yes, totally.
Jessica: Because I agree, like, we all want to be a good mom.
Megan: I changed my definition, yes, for sure. I was a third-grade teacher. I was the best stay-at-home mom and I loved it, I’ll be honest. Like, I loved being a stay-at-home mom and I did projects. I had the perfect…this was before Pinterest, too, because my daughter is 21 and my son is 18 like I didn’t have Instagram, I didn’t have Pinterest. But I naturally felt like for me, just being a teacher, it just was a lot of like projects, a lot of perfection, a lot of "I’ve got to have the Halloween pumpkins carved then they’d have to be out on their front porch beautifully." I have to have the perfect birthday parties.
Yeah, there was a lot of…in that period of my life, there was a lot of keeping things really neat and tidy and in order and keeping things really pretty and perfect was how I…and part of that I really enjoy, like, part of that I loved, you know, making the house look perfect. And so, in that period of my life it was…I enjoyed that, but I also look back and I felt like I also often times felt like that made me, you know, the perfect mom, having the perfect snacks or the perfect lunches, and I did. I think a lot of my view on what made a good mom was being the perfect mom. And that has changed a lot in this journey of building this business. I had to let go of a lot of perfection.
I remember the first time like that was really hard for me as the third grade teacher was the first year we started our business, and I just could not get the Halloween pumpkins carved. And I just remembered the night at Halloween, I was tired, I came home, the stupid pumpkins hadn’t been carved, and I just thought to myself either I can like carve these pumpkins, no one is really gonna help me, it’s gonna be me at the table carving these pumpkins or I can just let it go and not have Halloween pumpkins carved this year. And I can go read after we trick-or-treat like I can just be present and read my kids a book and just not be stressed out.
So, I remember that decision very vividly because I felt very nervous about not carving Halloween pumpkins and what that would look like when trick-or-treaters just came up to our house and we not have like carved pumpkins and it was such…like I felt horrible about it. And, yeah, I let it go. I was like, "I don’t really care how that gets perceived. I know that carving these pumpkins is not gonna make me a good mom. What’s gonna make a good mom is, you know, being present and calm and not anxious or nervous or just being really present and calm with these kids tonight?"
And so I opted out of doing a lot of the things that maybe would drive me crazy so I could be more present when I was with my kids. So I definitely started to let go of a lot of the, I don’t know, expected behaviors of moms. Things that I think our world, kind of, tells us that these are the things you do when you’re a mom, and, kind of, let a lot of that go.
Jessica: Well, it sounds like you let go of the fear of how other people were gonna perceive you and decided instead of actually living into controlling the perception of who I am in their world, I’m actually gonna control what I can, which is being present with my kids.
Megan: Absolutely, absolutely. And so that really became a very…when they were little, just constantly making choices on what not to do and what to do and what would be the choice that would make me…I wanted to be happy when I was with my kids like that was my goal like I want to be present and happy. I don’t want to be stressed out. So if volunteering at the school, for me, working full-time is gonna make me crazy, then I’m not gonna volunteer at the school. I think it’s better for me to add happy, healthy kids to the school, like, I think our school needs that more than me volunteering there. And so it was constantly just these decisions that I made to help, I don’t know, to help me be more present and to just be more happy when I was with them.
Jessica: Well I have to give you extra kudos because I went through the same process, but I had Brene Brown to help me through it.
Megan: Yeah, I didn’t. I didn’t. All the leadership lessons were learned right there on the styling floor. So a lot of what I learned actually drives our values of our company and really drives our culture.
Going Scared and Leading the Way
Jessica: OK. So let’s go back to the library. You had signed a lease. This is cleary happening. You’re asking the librarian, "OK, I need to figure this out." Walk me through your journey from perhaps that insecure, but going forward entrepreneur through your leadership journey today because now you’re eight years in, is that right?
Megan: The company, we are 13 years in, almost 13.5. Yup.
Jessica: So you’re 13 years and how many employees?
Megan: We have about 1,400 employees.
Jessica: Fourteen hundred employees.
Jessica: Over 80 stores.
Megan: Over 80 stores, yes.
Jessica: I want to know your journey through leadership because I’m sure at the beginning you had a sense of, "This is what I have to give to the world," but I know that that’s changed over the past decade.
Megan: I mean my journey of leadership has been, I spent the first six years in stores building the business and building the, I would say the styling experience in the stores and really building the culture. And spent so many years on the styling floor every day in our stores and really created…learned to create success and build a team to create success and to teach success and really learned a lot about coaching a team. And I learned so much about leadership just by working with customers on the floor for six years.
It was really hard to learn how to lead a business versus lead a store…
And I mean, all the leadership lessons were learned right there on the styling floor. So a lot of what I learned actually drives our values of our company and really drives our culture. All of the lessons that we learned on the styling floor actually…which is really kind of fun. So after about six years on the styling floor, it did a transition from the stores to this home office and that was a really hard journey for me. That was a really hard transition because as any leader knows that grows a business, you constantly have to change and evolve and grow as a leader, and I had to start from the very beginning at a home office leading…to lead a company versus just to…not just, but to work on the styling floor and leading a team on the floor of all of these stores. So that was a really hard transition for me, and it was really hard to learn how to lead a business versus lead a store if that makes sense, which is very different.
Jessica: Right, right, it’s like scaling. I mean, we’re doing that at Noonday, right now. We launched this coaching opportunity for women not to just grow people on their team, but to help their team members grow leaders underneath them. So there is a learning curve when you’re scaling like that.
Megan: There’s a big learning curve when you’re scaling like that and that was…I mean constantly it is…we constantly have to learn and evolve as a leader. I’m grateful that I have…I partner with my husband so I have a great thought partner who, you know, it’s like I have a live-in coach and we constantly talk about the business, we constantly give each other feedback, we constantly, you know, share what we know with each other. So it is, kind of fun. And it hasn’t always been fun partnering with my husband. There’s definitely been some challenges involved in that relationship, which is a whole other element, a whole other conversation, but I do day to day, I mean, it is, kind of, fun to have…our relationship is one of just, kind of, mutual coaching and mutual conversation and it’s great. It’s, kind of, fun to have the two of us be able to constantly learn and grow together as we build this company together. It’s really fun.
Evereve and Imperfect Courage
“I think we’ve both been so heavily influenced by just this authenticity…we read so many of the same authors and I think we’ve just been inspired…I connected so deeply to your story. It was fun. I read it in two nights.” Megan Tamte on Jessica Honegger’s Imperfect Courage
Jessica: So you mentioned that you really formed your values of the company those first few years when you’re scrapping it out on the floor and working with the customers and you also have read my book.
Jessica: That’s your beautiful endorsement. It made me cry.
Megan: It’s beautiful. It was beautiful. I’ve connected on so many different levels and I’m just so proud of you for what you’re doing and I really do believe that I think the world needs more. I call you, mindfully ambitious, just mindfully ambitious women like you. I’m so proud of what you’re doing. And, yes, I think there’s so many…I think we’ve both been so heavily influenced by just this authenticity, this Brene Brown’s work. I mean, we read so many of the same authors and I think we’ve just been inspired by…a lot of the same people have definitely influenced our thinking and building and growing as women of faith, leading companies in the marketplace, doing something we never thought we would, you know, maybe saw ourselves doing. Yeah, there’s so…I connected so deeply to your story. It was fun. I read it in two nights.
Jessica: I appreciated it because, you know, some people write endorsements without actually really reading the book. So that means like she read it.
Megan: Yes. I really do read your…It was awesome because it came when I had like two nights, three nights that it just was like, this was meant to be and I was, yeah, I’m so proud of you.
Jessica: That’s, kind of, cool. Kind of, cool.
Culture, Values, and Keeping Going Scared
Jessica: So tell us a little bit more about these values that you flipped just for the [inaudible 00:34:53] and then how are you creating a culture of those values throughout your over-1,000 employees.
Megan: Yeah, and that’s a great question and that is, you know, I’ll, kind of, share our values with you and really these values like I said earlier really came from just what I learned about working with people in creating success in the styling floor in our stores. You know, we call our values the heart values and they are humility, empathy, authenticity, relationship, and then tenacity. So those are the values and, yeah, they started on the styling floor with, you know, I think humility to me was learning how to learn from people, learning how to view every single person.
When you open a store and you put yourself, you know, in some location, you open your doors, you get all sorts of people, all sorts of walks in life come through that door and that…I learned that it was really important for me to, you know, not view anybody inferior than me or not view anyone superior, but really to just view everybody equally. And we taught our team to do the same thing, and we felt like you know what, every single person who comes to the door has a story and we have something we can learn from every single person. So it was really these values that I think were ingrained in me as a kid from my parents, that I got to play out and practice on the styling floors, that really helped to create this culture and what we call the heart experience at Evereve which is this styling experience that we’re so known for in our stores.
But, yeah, so that’s really, you know, kind of, where it started and those are the values, but learning how to scale them at a company this size, we’re still talking a lot about that and trying to figure that out. We have some thoughts up our sleeves, some things we’re working on and how to scale that, but all I can say is, you know, once you grow to about 1,400, osmosis doesn’t work as much.
So we are working on some plans right now to figure out how to get this, you know, continue. I think the best thing I can do for the company right now, one of the best things I can do is really figure out how to institutionalize these values as we scale. And I have the…I, kind of, have the vision for it right now, and it’s about, now it’s about just implanting it. So that’s something that’s hot for me that I’m working on right now.
"What I felt called to do was really use these stores as a vehicle to just love the women that came to the doors and help them just be seen for who they are and to help them feel good through fashion and clothing." Megan Tamte
Jessica: So that’s what I was gonna ask you actually is, I recently asked a group of our ambassadors, our social entrepreneurs, I took a big group to Guatemala and I asked them, "I want you to think about what you have to steward. What gifts are uniquely yours that you can use to make an impact on other people this week and then eventually on your business, on your community." And so many women were, that was the hardest question I asked on the whole trip. "What did you have to steward?" And it seems like that’s something you actually, when you were able to answer that question so many years ago, that is what activated you. Tell me what you felt like you had to steward when you were going through that to your process of naming your fears and then swatting them like annoying mosquitoes. And then what do you have to steward now?
Megan: Yeah, that’s a good question. What did I have to steward? I think genuine concern and care for the women coming through the doors. I really, I don’t know if that…I mean that’s a big question, let me think. What did?… I wanted…
Jessica: No, that I think was a beautiful answer, like you have love and presence to steward.
Megan: Yeah, I felt like I really care. I feel like… I’ve always felt like the beginning of Evereve was always so pure-hearted because I just, it goes back to how I was feeling as a mom and I was definitely on that shopping experience. I just wanted someone to see me and I just wanted someone to, I was feeling not really recognized, kind of, lost, and motherhood does that to us because it’s, kind of, this weird, beautiful thing where you’re suddenly taking care of other people, you’re not on the top of the list of things to do. You get a little lost when you’re in motherhood, right? And I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s cool because your life is no longer just about you, it’s about these children and this family which is really cool, but then you, kind of, lose yourself a little bit. And I think what’s always driven me was I just wanted to be part of helping see the women that were coming into our stores and just see them as humans and women and make them feel beautiful like women.
So I think that’s really what I had to offer was just being part of helping moms feel seen, and loved in the midst of motherhood. And I felt like, I mean, it’s, kind of, crazy but I felt like if I could create a brand around this idea and I could include fashion in it, because I do think fashion is important to women and fashion does help women, it does bring dignity, it does help women, you know, feel seen and feel like themselves. So I would say that’s really what I felt called to do was really use these stores as a vehicle to just love the women that came to the doors and help them just be seen for who they are and to help them feel good through fashion and clothing.
Evolving and Letting Go
Jessica: And now 13 years later, has that changed?
Megan: I think it’s changed only because I’m not in stores day to day.
Jessica: Right, your role is different.
Megan: Yeah. So the role is very different and I think it’s always evolving and we’re always thinking about it and I wish I had like a solid answer like I know what this, what I’m called to do right now. But I do know I built, we’ve built a really large company and we’re a $100 million company now. And I feel like, I feel like, "Wow, you started this thing." You have to take care of…you have to build this company. I want to build this company so it can exist and it can be strong, it can be powerful, and that all of it can happen without me, like, I want to make it so it can thrive and grow and be healthy without me. And, kind of, you know, figuring out what that looks like is, kind of, my challenge like how do I get this to live and grow. And not that I’m leaving. I have no plans to leave anytime soon, but I always think leaders think like that, right? They always want something…when I was building teams and my goal was always to make this team, you know, function without me. And so I feel like I think about that a lot. You know, how do I build…
“Work has brought me so much joy and I think work is beautiful. I think we were created to work and we were created to partner together with people to build beautiful things.” Megan Tamte
Jessica: Well, it’s really a legacy, right? It’s like how can I create a legacy that if I were to die tomorrow…
Megan: Yeah, yeah. And I do..I feel for me, Jessica, work has brought me so much joy and I think work is beautiful. I think we were created to work and we were created to partner together with people to build beautiful things. I feel so grateful I’ve had the opportunity. I think we’re supposed to be building things with our partners. We don’t have to build companies with our partners, but I do think building with our husbands, our partners, building with our friends, I just think there’s something really beautiful about creating things together and viewing work as something really beautiful because sometimes I think work gets such a bad rep so I love the idea of just helping make work like beautiful, because I do. I think there’s nothing more beautiful than people from all different skill sets, all different experiences, all different kinds of backgrounds partnering together to create beautiful things. I just thought that’s very exciting to me. Personally, I don’t think there are many things more beautiful in life than that, and I think it’s what God created as to do. Let’s just work together and build good things, beautiful things. So that’s, kind of, the funny thing about that a lot, too.
Jessica: I love that. I love that. OK, I love that you… I don’t love that you spent years on the couch. But I love it that that’s how you talk about it because you know that that’s the journey I take women on in my book. It’s like how can we get off the couch and out of our front door and into the world.
Getting from the Couch to the Front Door
Megan: Taking the small step to do that thing that you’re interested in or you’re curious about or you are, you know, seems to make you come alive…starting with small steps and just following your curiosity courageously I think is really important.
Jessica: So I would love for you to talk to that woman, because I know that there are thousands of them listening right now. They’re on the couch and they are unsure or they’re paralyzed on how to get from the couch to the front door. What would you say to her?
Megan: I just feel like it’s really important for women to understand who they are and to really take that time of reflection.
Megan: I would say I think start small. I always tell people I think my story sometimes they hesitate to share it because it’s, kind of, a big story. I mean, we started big fashion brands and I don’t think that’s everyone’s calling—to be an entrepreneur. And for many years I think I used to…I think I used to maybe put too much pressure on women because I was like, "My story is such a great story and you must be called to do something as amazing as this or as big as this," and I think there are very few people that are called to be entrepreneurs. And most aren’t. So I just feel like it’s really important for women to understand who they are and to really take that time of reflection.
I think it’s important to take small steps, just small steps of exploring your curiosity. If something makes you happy like taking the small step to do that thing that you’re interested in or you’re curious about or you are, you know, seems to make you come alive just, kind of, starting with small steps and just following your curiosity courageously I think is really important. And it doesn’t have to be this big giant leap toward, you know, this thing that makes your dream come true. I think it’s a lot of small steps, a lot of little small steps and following your curiosity. And even now, I’m in a different stage right now with our company, with my family. I’m gonna be an empty nester in a couple of months and I’m, sort of, at that stage again where it’s like, "What am I? Like, other than Evereve and other than these two kids that I’ve loved, like, what’s this next chapter look like?"
And I’m in this stage of, you know, really exploring, “what do I like to do?” and what, you know, kind of, thinking a lot about that and taking little steps toward those things that are things that maybe, you know, fill me and maybe could turn into something or maybe couldn’t, but just being open to following your curiosity I think is really important.
Jessica: Well, and I love that you started with a company before social media because I think it was easier to start and take those small steps because they didn’t feel small, but now we have so many people to compare ourselves too, so many brands to compare ourselves to. They—we’re often comparing our small steps to someone’s, you know, they’ve been on the journey for miles and miles now.
Megan: Yeah, yeah. And I think we all get confused about "Who Am I?" I am not called to be an author. I’m not called to be this or this, you know, it’s like constantly reflecting not on, you know, you can watch other women, you can learn from other women, but I’m constantly trying to figure out, like, and think about who I am and, you know, there’s so many stories on social media that it’s so easy to, kind of, want to be everything, but it’s like I got to be real and figure out, like, “who am I?” and what…”do I work right now?” and “what does this look like for me?” Because it is, it’s so easy to compare. It puts a lot of pressure on women, I think.
Jessica: Well, and I see these threads throughout this entire journey, whether you are on the couch or whether you were going through those two years of really trying to put pen to paper and walk through your fears and then all the way to now, I mean, you impacted me so much in saying that you spend an hour and a half every single day in prayer, reading, journaling, meditation…
Megan: I’m very committed to that.
Commitment to Faith
Jessica: I was so floored by that and it’s like a life goal now of mine, but it sounds like you have had a commitment to solitude all along. Talk to us a little bit…encourage the woman who is like, "OK, I feel like that would be good for me” but she’s not doing it. Tell us about the fruit of that time and your commitment to this value.
“That’s what the last six-year journey has been…just really protecting myself from letting the success of Evereve define who I am.” Megan Tamte
Megan: Yeah. It’s just it’s so powerful. I just think for me when I just seek God’s help and I seek God, He just shows up. So I don’t know, I got to a place, you know, I’ve always, kind of had moments and times in my life where I’ve really done a lot of reflection, and spend a little time in solitude and about, I don’t know, six years ago, I really made a commitment and I actually…it had a lot to do with my children and how I was going to show faith to them about six years ago. I was, kind of…I mean, I went from this really greedy entrepreneur who never had any money or had anything to suddenly the leader of a successful business who is making money and had bought a bigger house and had all this stuff. And I just got to this place where I was like I can’t, but I don’t want…I worked really hard to not let failure define me and then I was like, I had done that really well and created success for myself. And then I just had this moment where I was like, "Now I have to work just as hard to not let success define me."
And so really, that’s what the last six-year journey has been…just really protecting myself from letting the success of Evereve define who I am. And I just, I don’t know, I just felt like I need to, in this phase, I need to really get on my hand and knees every day and give this up to God. And also I was at a point where I didn’t really know how to lead a company this size that I was part of, like, brought down to knees because again, like I was when I was, you know, the young entrepreneur. I was like, "I have no idea how to lead this company this size."
Jessica: You’re like "We’re not in the library anymore."
Megan: I like this. I was like OK, the library, maybe God installed me here like thank you God, and I know the library is gonna do this because the problems are so big, I mean that like I was just…
Jessica: The stakes are so high.
Megan: The stakes are so much higher and I was like physically coming home from work every day, like, with weight on my shoulders. I was getting migraines, I was so carrying, I mean, every day I heard thousands of problems like my life. And my life is to this day. I laugh when I get feedback from someone and they’re like, "That really was hard." I’m like, "Do you understand that I have thousand…this is the company that I built and every feedback that comes in about this company is me." This was like, "This is our company," and, you know, I get thousands of pieces of feedback every day and problems and I just had to learn how to separate myself from that, too.
And so I just knew I didn’t want to be a woman with a migraine every day and I didn’t want this weight on my shoulder and also I wanted my kids where, at a very crucial time in their development, they were, you know, I think, you know, middle schoolers and I was asking myself, "How are we gonna talk about faith in my family?" And I just decided, "You know what, I’m just gonna show them what it looks like to just have a practice of getting up every morning and spending time in prayer and reading in solitude." And I felt like that was, I needed God’s help, I didn’t want success to define me and I wanted to be a role model to my children at that time of what faith looks like instead of being a mom that tells them what faith looks like. I wanted to show them.
“It’s just been a beautiful practice and I’m totally committed to it because it’s made me so, feel so happy and so alive and I feel like I’m co-creating with God.” Megan Tamte
And I’m so grateful, I’m so committed to that practice and I’d write my prayers out in journals and every day I just ask God to just help me and I ask God every day to help me love Him with my whole heart, my whole soul, and my whole mind, and help me to love others. And use is what I have to do that. And I don’t know it’s just…it took all the migraines away, it took all the stress away. It’s just been a beautiful practice and I’m totally committed to it because it’s made me so, feel so happy and so alive and I feel like I’m co-creating with God, which is really fun to build something and that I don’t feel attached to my work as much, which feels really…which is I think made me a better leader actually.
Jessica: Joy, that’s where the joy is.
Megan: Yeah, yeah. And I tell you, you know, leading a company this size, you know, the leaders that’s the tone and I also had to tell myself that this is the best gift, you know, I was trying to figure out what behaviors would drive the most success at the company, too, and I thought, you know, me showing up, feeling joyful, and present, and happy. It’s like parenting, right, when you’re leading a company. It’s like this is a gift to my company if I can come to work every morning feeling alive and feeling present and feeling happy. And so that’s why this practice is everything to me.
Jessica: This conversation really stuck with me. I know I got stuck in so many perfectionistic chaps as a mom myself and I really related to that part of the conversation. I actually go into that topic a lot in my book Imperfect Courage. So make sure you go ahead on over to Amazon or wherever you buy books, to go ahead and check it out. And if you want access to all of the pre-order goodies, head on over to jessicahonegger.com and literally we’re giving you everything but the kitchen sink. And this is why retailers pay attention to pre-orders and they will start stocking the books in airports and at Walmart and all the other places around the country when they see that people like you are actually ordering the book. So I would love it if you would do that for me, just click on over right now. Thanks so much for tuning in to today’s show. Our wonderful music for the show today is by my good friend, Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz, and I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.