By Melissa Kandel
A few weeks ago, I posted a comment on the Female Founder Collective Instagram. Something about my passion for sharing the stories of female entrepreneurs around the globe. And it’s true. I love putting the spotlight on daring business owners when I can.
The response was overwhelming. Dozens of DMs, emails, comments. Not only did my comment resonate, it also exposed a real need for founders to have a platform where they can explain what they do and why.
So, here’s the first in a series of Founder Features that will be posted on the site in the coming weeks and months. I recommend you tune in, whether you’re thinking about starting a business or in the midst of launching one or even, a successful entrepreneur. We can all learn from each other. In fact, we have to.
Today I’m featuring Megan Kain, founder of Sognatore Collection, a luxury resort-wear brand designed for women who travel. The collection is an ode to Megan’s travels to Bodrum, Turkey and draws inspiration from the magical Mediterranean Sea.
Based in Los Angeles, every piece from Sognatore Collection (@sognatore.sf) is sustainable, ethically sourced and handmade in Bali. The satin skirts are crafted locally in the Bay Area, with fabrics Megan personally selects. Each skirt has a long, adjustable waist intended to be size and body inclusive.
Sognatore Collection is a brand meant to evoke the effervescent excitement of travel and make you feel good.
Melissa: Do you remember the first moment you thought, “OK, I’m going to start a business,” and can you describe what that journey was like from the “aha” to the actual creation of your brand?
Megan: I had the idea of starting a business in fashion back in 2019. I would go to every networking event to try to meet female founders or someone in the beauty or fashion space who was doing what I wanted to do. In 2020, I started to do my research and planned what it would take to start my clothing brand but I gave up before I got started and fell into a depression, feeling a lack of purpose and direction. In 2021, I picked up the book, “Everything is Figureoutable” and author Marie Forleo said, “The world needs that special gift that only you have.” I felt so moved by that statement, I immediately started my business.
Wow! Super inspiring. And yes it does! So, how did you come up with the name Sognotore Collection?
Sognatore means “dreamer” in Italian. I wanted the name to be a resemblance of my heritage because my mom is an immigrant from Taiwan and I learned traveling from my dad, who is Italian. I’ve dreamed of being in fashion ever since I was a little girl and every day I went to work in construction, I dreamed of traveling the world. It was important my brand was symbolic of my story and served as a reminder to women to give life to their dreams.
You started your business in January 2021, not an easy time to begin by any means. What challenges did you face and if you can describe a few, what specifically did you do to overcome them?
It was a challenge already trying to break into the fashion industry coming from the construction world, but then during the pandemic, we are all cut off from real life connections and support systems that are so essential to business owners. I leaned on my existing network of people who were doing the things I wanted to do, and would ask my coworkers and friends for referrals of people I could connect with who could help me learn the skillsets I needed in order to launch my collection.
Your beautiful designs pay homage to your trip to Bodrum, Turkey. How does the art of travel and these faraway locales influence your design?
When I travel I am in complete awe of the landscapes, flowers, fountains, the way the water sparkles, luscious jungles, and more. I had traveled to Bodrum, Turkey in 2019 and the colors of the Mediterranean are so beautiful I wanted to design a collection that was inspired by somewhere I’d been to. I love showcasing the collection around places in California, and it feels like you’re being transported across the world to a place like Marrakech, Bali, Spain or Positano, because these are some of the places I would love to visit. While traveling abroad is highly sought out, I know first-hand a lot of us have other commitments that keep us from traveling as often as we’d like, so I wanted to showcase how you can travel the world while exploring your backyard.
To someone reading this who might have an idea for a business or have the entrepreneurial spirit but hasn’t yet let it come to life, what advice would you give? How did you motivate yourself to get started and more importantly, get over that initial hurdle of “OK I just launched this business, what now?”
Last year I attended the Embrace Ambition Summit where ambitious women shared stories of how they were changing the world. A lot of the women were normal ladies doing extraordinary things and I left that conference feeling so inspired, and unstoppable. Starting a business is really tough, but for me it was therapy for the mental health issues I was dealing with because I had found my purpose, and was so passionate about sharing my love for traveling and creating clothes that women can feel beautiful and confident in. I lost motivation so many times but I kept going because I can’t imagine a life where I stopped doing this. To me, launching a business is the beginning of a beautiful journey, not the end goal, having a vision for my business has helped me outline goals and take actionable steps to keep moving the needle forward.
Are there any brands or business leaders you look to for inspiration, business-building, aesthetic or otherwise?
Camila Coelho is my style icon, I also admire how she started off doing makeup at a beauty counter and now has multiple businesses. Gary Vaynerchuk is also someone who has helped me build up my confidence.
Entrepreneurship is a solo endeavor but every successful entrepreneur needs a tribe. Who are your go-to support system people and what advice/support do they provide?
Honestly it’s the community of women I am trying to build through my brand: my customers, my videographer, my stylist, other entrepreneurs, they don’t just cheer me on, they shout it from the roof, and remind me to never give up on my dream. Being able to see how I’ve inspired other women and impacted their lives for the better is so fulfilling and motivates me to continue sharing my love for traveling and work harder to design more collections.
Anything else you want to share? Anything you’ve wanted to talk about that someone has never asked you in an interview before?
I haven’t really shared with another interviewer that the reason I found the motivation to start and launch my business was to save myself from depression. Traveling helped me find the confidence to believe in myself, helped me find purpose and meaning in my life, and the friendships I’ve made through traveling and in my business is the reason I created my brand, to build a community of women who uplift one another through a shared love of experiencing the world. I motivate myself to work twice as hard so I can be an example to those suffering that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the future is bright. 𓆸