Interview: Magnus Clothing Co.

If I've learned one thing from putting together this directory, it's that there are a LOT of women-owned independent businesses - which, while amazing to learn, makes it even more impressive when someone is doing something unique. Starting a business is hard enough on its own, but starting one that is unlike anything else is a true feat.

Enter Magnus Clothing Co., a shop full of detachable collars and accessories. I've always been a big fan of Peter Pan collars, but I had never really though about detachable ones until I started following along with Magnus and realized how often I was struggling to fit a bulky top under something just so the collar could peak out. Magnus has fully changed the way I look at collars, and her products completely transform an outfit. In addition to this, she also offers upcycled items (collars and shirts to pair them with) and other accessories, such as enamel pins.

Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?

A: Prior to starting my little shop of collars (...just now realized that would’ve been a brilliant name for the company!) I was absolutely fascinated with the idea of wearable art. Print on demand t-shirt businesses like Society6 were “the thing” for getting your art on wearable products at the time, and I tried my hand at that half heartedly for some time before deciding the t-shirt market was extremely oversaturated. I knew I needed something unique that would please a small, but loyal crowd. I researched and studied (entirely on my own) for a full year before launching my shop. That year included focus groups, setting up taxes, getting a proper license, and all the stressful things that seem like they’re put in place to weed out anyone who isn’t serious about their dream. I wanted to quit SO many times, because I lack education and just didn’t feel smart enough to do it. I would never forgive myself now though, if I had quit. One year after getting my license, I successfully launched Magnus Clothing Co. and I’m happy to say, after 2 years, I still love running my shop!

Q: What was your first product to take off or find enough success that you were encouraged to do more?

A: My best seller has always been the black & white peter pan collar 2-pack. It’s kind of like the “starter kit” for anyone new to removable collars. The continued success of the Fairytale Floral Embroidered Collar and lace collars has encouraged me to continue, because I’ve sold out of those styles, time and time again. However, it’s the response to the novelty collar designs like that of the Paper Collar that give me the craving to create more!

Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting a business? Were you nervous to share it?

A: HA! Because I have a novelty product, my biggest challenge has been explaining just WHAT removable collars are to people who prefer a different approach to fashion (let alone try to explain why pins are a thing haha!). No matter the personal style of my friends and family though, everyone can appreciate the colorful palette I present with each of my looks. I strive to offer style inspiration through bright combinations of hair, accessories, and makeup with my collars. It’s a wild ride, and my family knows how happy it makes me!

Q: Did you work another job while you were starting? How long did it take you to turn this into a full-time venture?

A: I did have a part time job as a project manager (also art related and working from home). I believe it was a year after my shop was up and running that I needed to quit, because Magnus was taking more and more time, offering more money, and I preferred it over the other work I was doing. When I was a project manager, I was on the computer a LOT and would often get headaches from looking at a screen so much. Now I have a lot more variety in my workload - ie sewing, photography, painting, computer design, marketing, and, well, being a business owner!

Q: It seems to be pretty common for entrepreneurs to start their shops because they have a specific talent and then have to learn the business side of things (marketing, finance, eCommerce, etc.) as they go. Was this case for you or did you go into it having that knowledge? What was the most challenging part for you?

A: I definitely had more artistic knowledge than business knowledge when starting out! My back round included self taught skills such as drawing, painting, computer illustration, and sewing. All of which are great for creating fun things, but offer no help when trying to birth a viable business. Thankfully my best friend/husband helps me with the numbers, but the most challenging part at the very beginning was figuring out all the legalities, and don’t even get me started on taxes uuuugh. But once all that was in order, things started getting into a rhythm. My current challenge is marketing when my main social media platform no longer favors small businesses. It’s fun to learn and grow with each challenge though - now I can learn how to up my email marketing game.