A professional trainer of 13 years, Meghann Nevada isn’t afraid of a little hard work. After closing her downtown Ottawa gym, Grit + Glory SC, she launched her first-ever fashion business – right in the middle of a pandemic.
Nevada ran Grit + Glory for two successful years. When her building’s leasing manager decided to renovate the space into something new, Nevada decided to launch Matriarch, selling bold, statement-making apparel with a social mission.
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Proceeds from Matriarch’s sales go towards scholarships that help young and teen mothers through post-secondary education. Nevada, once a teen mother herself, looks to provide young moms with what would have helped her after high school.
“You’re really out on your own,” Nevada says. “You’re still a teenager yourself, or you’re a young mom trying to raise another child.”
With the closure of Grit + Glory, and her daughter soon turning 21, Nevada dug into her passion for apparel and fashion, mapping out a vision for Matriarch.
But – as was the case for so many entrepreneurs in 2020 – things didn’t quite go as planned.
“I’d actually been accepted to (Parsons School of Design) in New York – then the pandemic hit,” she says.
Grounded in Canada by lockdown, Nevada set aside the prestigious art school, instead teaching herself to use Photoshop and e-commerce platforms.
“I don’t need-need to go to school for fashion,” she says. “It kind of all synced together for me.”
By September 2020, Nevada had opened Matriarch online, selling clothing and accessories such as hats, tote bags and mugs.
Aside from the Basics line that Nevada designs herself, all of Matriarch’s artwork is commissioned from female artists around the world, and then printed locally in Ottawa. The current Matriarch collection is inspired by ‘The Empress’ Tarot card.
“She’s the matriarch of the Tarot deck,” Nevada explains. “She’s about birthing new ideas and creativity.”
The first scholarships will launch in the fall of 2022, helping young mothers cover everything from rent to childcare to tuition.
“Not only are (young mothers) dealing with the stress of school and generating the funds to go, you’re also trying to raise a child, maintain a relationship with your partner, your peers, and maybe have a job,” Nevada says.
The scholarships will offer $2,500, $5,000 and more.
“Whatever the number is, if it pays for a semester, or it pays for fees and books – that’s a huge thing,” she says.
Building strong foundations
When Nevada was launching her gym several years ago, less than a month passed between her decision to start the venture and the facility’s soft launch – a head-on, crash-course into the business, she recalls.
Things are different this time.
“This pandemic has really put the brakes on in a good way,” Nevada says. “It’s slow growth and baby steps.”
That model has allowed Nevada to build an engaged online community. Looking to a post-COVID world, she says she’d love to host a fashion show, partnering with local businesses. Longer term, Nevada wants to offer teen and young mothers additional resources, such as financial education, entrepreneurship mentoring and classes on relationship psychology.
“I want to really, really stay true to what I feel would have benefited me and the girls that I went to school with, and what I can do to help create that for somebody else,” she says.
The Bright Side of Business is an editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success.
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