When a 20-something with no experience in the industry decides to launch her own fashion brand at the bottom of one of the nation's worst recessions, you don't need anyone to tell you that person has an exceptional amount of gumption. But everyone who knows local resident Meagan Scott, the creator of Boys + Arrows swimwear, will tell you anyway. In just a few short years, Scott has laid the foundation for a successful company, built a brand bursting with personality, and designed a collection of bikinis right here in Ventura County that rival those of top international designers.
VENTANA: Where did the idea for Boys + Arrows come from?
MEAGAN SCOTT: I was always working more than one job, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I had been doing a lot of traveling—in my early-twenties I started just buying tickets and traveling. I woke up one day and was like, 'I want to make bikinis.' It was kind of out of nowhere, but everything I've ever done has been kind of out of nowhere.
VEN: Did you have other career plans at that point?
MS: I was planning on going to nursing school ... Things got a little scary with money, with work, and nursing seemed safe; nursing isn't going anywhere, it's a guaranteed job. Well, right before a midterm, I jumped on a plane to Brazil. When I got home, I stopped going to school and decided to just start designing bikinis.
VEN: So even someone who is apparently fearless has to deal with fear of the unknown?
MS: Oh, yeah, absolutely. The fear always tries to creep up. Every time that happens I have to give myself a little pep talk. It definitely happens less often now. I'm more confident. I know that what I do is so pure, I truly just make things that I love.
VEN: How much risk was involved in starting the company?
MS: Well, a lot. I was really determined, and was doing well financially when I was younger; I purchased two homes at a young age. I had high bills and no financial help. Period. None. It was fully on me ... I figured now is the time to risk it. If I had babies or a husband, it just wouldn't be smart to take such a risk. Now is the time.
VEN: What was the first step in turning this idea into an actual bikini?
MS: My first course of action was buying a single-needle sewing machine and a serger; you need two kinds of sewing machines to make a bikini. My second course of action was signing up for a sewing class. I had never used a sewing machine. I knew I'd eventually be hiring people to take over certain jobs, like sewing, but if I was going to be guiding people, I wanted to know how to do it.
VEN: And how did that work out?
MS: It was hilarious. I told the instructors I wanted to make bikinis and they laughed, because stretch fabric is the most difficult thing to sew. I ended up starting on an easier project: I made a tote bag. What's funny is that people would be like, 'That is the cutest tote bag I've ever seen,' and before I knew it I had made twenty of them and they were for sale at a shop.
VEN: What kinds of opposition did you face when starting the company?
MS: The biggest roadblocks were, number one, getting capital, and the fact that I worked two jobs while I was launching my brand. I was a crazy person, driving all over. Also, for so long you don't have anybody telling you, 'Good job,' you're just working toward something. Anything creative that I do drains me, because I really put everything into it. Even building my website, or coming up with a name—it took me a year-and-a-half to come up with the Boys + Arrows.
VEN: What helped you get through the most trying times?
MS: I've always liked playing mental stamina games with myself, like when I'm at the gym or yoga. I'm a self-motivator. I push myself hard. When I would get scared, it would give me motivation to keep going and just shake it off. Besides that, my sister and my mom believed in me even more than I believed in myself. Their belief pushed me through the hard times.
VEN: How have you found success in an economy where that word seems so elusive?
MS: I would thank my sister, who wasn't afraid to give me money because she knew it would come back, and Women's Economic Ventures (wevonline.org). They gave me a little funding and helped me put a business plan together. They taught me about affirmations. They made me realize that having fears and stress is normal. When you're not around other people who are starting a business, you feel weak, like maybe you're not cut out for it. But when you are around others doing it too, you realize that how you're feeling is normal and okay.
VEN: What makes your approach unique?
MS: People ask me sometimes, 'Who's the inspiration behind your bikinis?' And I kind of laugh because, believe it or not, I would say my dad, who wore his fluorescent yellow Body Glove trunks around the pool when I was eight years old. Those are the moments in my life that have inspired me—that's where I design from, not from what's going on around me or who's doing what. Not what's cool, just from the heart.
VEN: What does the future hold for Boys + Arrows?
MS: I think we've only seen the beginning. It's already expanding internationally. We've just shipped to Japan, and we're in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Australia. I'm really looking forward to expanding worldwide and expanding the brand beyond bikinis, but also keeping it real: things that I would want, things that I would wear, not just things that will make money.