U of Meg, a reworked university merch brand, was started by second-year Rotman Commerce student, Megan Chong, in the spring of 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down! Each drop features limited edition, unique, reworked university merch with proceeds of the sales going to a variety of important causes, including Black Lives Matter and the Lebanese Food Bank, following the Beirut Explosion. 

We had the pleasure of interviewing Megan, who shares what it is like being a Rotman student and starting her own clothing company, ran entirely through Instagram. 

Megan in one of her pieces

 What inspired you to create U of Meg? How much time did you have to put in at the start to research and begin production?

I was a fashion designer in my high school fashion shows and have created my own figure skating dresses. I started U of Meg in quarantine as I wanted to continue the U of T pride by creating unique, one-of-a-kind U of T merchandise for fellow students. Every U of Meg item sold is reworked by me and made with love. Honestly, I just jumped into it after my final exams in April. I gathered market research data in May and created my Instagram account at the end of the month. The rest is history.

How has being at U of T and in Rotman influenced your brand and the way you run your business?

I am so fortunate to use my knowledge gained from first year Rotman Commerce classes in my own business and apply the theory, such as looking at sales figures and social media analytics every day. In particular, I learned a lot from RSM250: The Principles of Marketing and how Professor Dan Richards talked about how “a brand is not just a business, it is a community.”

Additionally, I am involved with the Rotman Commerce Sales Group (first as a First-Year Intern and now the Director of Internal Affairs). I learned that communication and interpersonal skills are very important in many businesses. 

What has been the most unexpected part of starting and running your own business? The most rewarding?

The most unexpected part has been the overwhelming amount of positive responses, and surprisingly, upper-year students (and university graduates) have reached out to me with words of wisdom that have been so crucial to my success! 

The most rewarding part has been creating unique and sustainable garments that people will wear more than once and will feel proud wearing at home, around campus, and beyond! 

How important was ensuring part of the proceeds of each drop went to an important cause? How did you choose what organizations to donate to?

It is so important that a portion of the proceeds go to organizations I truly believe in. When someone purchases a U of Meg garment, they know that they are not only buying a one-of-a-kind item, but also an item that supports a good cause.

Recently, I have been choosing BLM and Lebanon relief organizations because I feel like we need to do our part and help those affected. I hope to raise as much money as I can while encouraging others to donate whenever possible.

How has your company been received among the UofT student body and beyond?

I am thrilled that university students at U of T and students attending universities across the country have reached out to me even during these unprecedented times. 

Do you follow a certain process every time you rework the products?

Yes and no. I often start the creative process with a specific idea in mind and make several prototypes before posting the final design for feedback. However, I constantly change my designs for every drop. I love experimenting with new techniques, especially with colours and sewing patterns.

How vital is social media to your business and how do you optimize it for your business’s success?

Since I started the business in quarantine, my business only uses social media, for posting a new drop, taking orders, and answering customer queries. Social media, and Instagram in particular, allows me to connect with my peers, create brand awareness and drive sales.

Is this something you see yourself continuing in your post-university career? (or how will you use this experience in your future careers?)

Yes absolutely! I live and breathe fashion, but I am also fascinated by finance and marketing as I enter my second year at Rotman Commerce. U of Meg has challenged me to be open to new things and truly step outside my comfort zone. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give for students who are interested in starting their own company?

Just go for it; there is no time like the present. If you are truly passionate about something you will succeed. And always be open to advice from others.

Anything exciting to come for U of Meg that you wish to share?

I will create more eco-friendly and sustainable garments in the near future. My second drop was 100% sustainable fashion since I feel strongly about how we can all do our part to make this planet a little greener! DROP 5 PART 5 is coming Wednesday, September 9th.

I love receiving customer input so feel free to DM me at @uofmeg

RCFG is incredibly grateful to have been able to interview such an inspiring student, and we would like to thank Megan Chong for taking the time to share her experience and advice. Follow @uofmeg on Instagram so you don’t miss DROP 5 PART 5 coming Wednesday, September 9th, just in time for school!

We also look forward to having Megan as a panelist at our Sustainability in Fashion event with the RC Non-Profit Network on January 21st, 2020. The event will consist of a fashion show, panel, and fundraiser. Keep track of RCFG’s social media and the Rotman portal for event registration details! 

– Katie Brasseur