Happy Wednesday friends!
I’m so excited about today’s post because I’m sharing a fabulous interview with y’all. (An interview was much overdue, I think!)! Today’s installment in my interview series, Sitting Pretty with Megan Patterson of Bon Aprontit, is such a wonderful look at a positive, empowering female led business. Megan is a jack of all trades, beyond driven and hard working, and sweet as pie! Living in Chicago, she works full time as an Associate Brand Manager at her dream company, runs her own apron business, and write a blog too!
I don’t know how she does it all! I’ve been so enjoyed to get to know Megan because I feel that we have so much in common and I’m just touched by her never-ending kindness. Keep reading to learn all about Megan’s inspiration for starting her company. Also, how she leads a female run business that’s for women, her career advice, her #1 hair tip, and all her Windy City recommendations! You will absolutely love her story about how she landed her current job too – so creative and genius!
P.S. I have one of her aprons (mine is blue and white, of course!) and I couldn’t love it more. I think her aprons make the best hostess gifts and are a wonderful gift idea to keep in mind for Easter and Mother’s Day!
Sitting Pretty with Megan Patterson of Bon Aprontit
Name: Megan Patterson
Neighborhood: Chicago, IL
Job: Founder of Bon Aprontit
Let’s talk business…
Describe your company in 3 sentences or less.
Bon Aprontit is a luxury line of dress-like aprons empowering women to feel fabulous when in the kitchen and home. These dress-like aprons are designed to look like a cocktail dress but are built for mess and can be thrown in the washing machine after.
Can you tell us a little about your career path?
I graduated college with a bachelor degree in Business-Marketing. I had no idea what I wanted to do after school, but that I wanted to move to a city where the opportunities were endless. The day after graduation I moved to Chicago with an event planning internship lined up. I ended up falling in love with the city and after the internship ended, I landed two more internships in Public Relations. I did one M-W-F and one Tues-Thurs while I worked at a local cupcake shop on nights and weekends to make ends meet and fulfill my passion for baking and making people smile through food.
After the internships I got my first full time job with a local boutique PR firm.
It was a great experience and a great foot in the door, but I knew I wanted to be on the other side of these pitches so I networked my tail end off and started my blog, Blog Appétit, as a way to get to know people in the city. Shortly after, I landed a full time job with a local luxury print magazine where I started as the Marketing Coordinator and quickly grew within the company to Marketing Manager and then Senior Marketing Manager.
I met some incredibly talented people there and many who I have to thank for helping me with Bon Aprontit which I launched in October of 2016.
Fast forward to this past November, after almost five years at the magazine, I had an itch to go corporate. I was ready for a new challenge and was dying to learn the ins and outs of running a big brand. While I had no experience in the consumer packaged goods world nor do I have my MBA, I was determined to get my foot in the door with a well known baking brand that I grew up knowing and loving so I took a chance and baked some cupcakes with their products and had them delivered along with a copy of my resume.
I tell this story because my current boss told me he never would have looked at my resume if it wasn’t for that so if you’re ever trying for a job that seems out of reach just think outside the box and you never know what will happen. As of today, I work as an Associate Brand Manager during the day and as a business owner and blogger during the nights. I’ve held a lot of titles and positions, but I wouldn’t take back a single one. Each job taught me something new and introduced me to people whom have become friends and mentors today!
What inspired you to start your company and how did you come up with your concept?
I always knew I wanted to start my own business, one that involved being creative, making people smile and cooking. It was about 4 years ago that I was inspired by my mom when she was hosting a holiday dinner party. She bought this beautiful brand new dress to wear for the evening but due to not wanting to spill on it, she wore an old, plain apron over it all night and never got to show it off. That’s when I came up with Bon Aprontit, a line of luxury aprons to empower women feeling fabulous when in the home. An apron that makes you feel dressed up but that can be tossed in the machine after!
What is a typical day in the life of Megan?
Everyday is a bit of a balancing act between my day job, running a business, blogging and making time for friends/family so I live by my ical and keep a written planner in my purse at all times with a detailed to-do list. Fun fact: I once got my backpack stolen in college and was more upset that my planner was gone then my credit cards and car keys (just to give you a better ideal of how much I live by to-do lists and planning).
On average, a typical day looks a little like this:
6am- wake up
6:15-7am – gym
7:30am – get ready for my day job
8:30-6pm – at my day job
6-7pm – networking/social time (usually involves stopping by an event, grabbing drinks with friends/industry people or a Bon Aprontit meeting)
7-8pm – dinner and time with my husband
8-10pm – catch up on emails and social posting/engagement for my blog and Bon Aprontit
10-11pm – Work on Bon Aprontit: package orders, send pitches, develop e-blast, manage website, prep for upcoming pop-ups, etc.
11-12am – Work on Blog Appetit: edit photos, work on blog posts and plan for shoots
12:30am – bed time, so I can do it all again!
There are many nights I have stayed up until 4am working on the aprons/blog and then had to turn around and head to my my day job where I am chugging coffee to stay awake but I truly love every job and role I hold so I always tell myself to be the very best I can at the current job I am working on and if you love what you’re doing then it’s worth every late night and added under eye circle. 😉
Tell us a bit about how your company and aprons help empower women on a day-to-day basis.
Bon Aprontit was born off an idea I had while watching my own mom hosts guests for a dinner party while covering up her beautiful party dress she bought to feel her best that evening. So, when designing the aprons I wanted them to look different than any other apron you can find in the store and give the feeling of excitement when you put it on that you’re ready to take on the world… or your kitchen!
Each apron is made with advanced features to ensure every women feels their absolute best while wearing one and can enjoy their guests without the worry of a spill ruining their night or their outfit underneath! Each apron has a pre-tied bow around the neck so you get that perfect pretty bow every time without getting your hair tangled in it. The top is hand beaded so you always feel dressed up, the chest is designed to perfectly flatter any chest size and the inside is lined like a formal cocktail dress!
What has been your most rewarding experience since starting Bon Aprontit?
Oh man, so many moments. Being picked up by Today.com just two months after launching was definitely a moment that I realized all the non-stop hustling to launch was paying off and being asked to work on a special project by a big brand that is currently still underwraps so stay tuned!
Is there something you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your company?
Don’t overthink it. Before I launched, I spent countless hours and nights working on my business plan, branding and just constantly tweaking small things to be “100%” ready to launch but the truth is you’ll never feel 100% ready and that’s ok. My best advice to anyone looking to start a business is to just start. You will always find things to tweak, but if you just start somewhere then you can figure out the rest along the way and it’s even easier as people will tell you exactly what they like or want to see from your brand.
My best story is when someone reached out asking if I could make them a bleach resistant apron and in my head I thought, now why would they be using bleach while cooking and the woman said she was a hairdresser and wanted to wear it while doing hair everyday. I never even thought of that market so this opened my eyes to a completely new market and opportunity that I never would have discovered before launching.
What keeps you inspired at work day-in and day-out?
The idea of helping women feel confident and fabulous during their celebrations, holidays or family gatherings! Nothing motivates me more than when I receive pictures of women in their aprons enjoying time with family and friends!
Let’s talk Fashion…
Describe your style in three adjectives.
Girly, colorful and timeless
What are your wardrobe staples?
Midi skirts and blouses, I own more skirts than anything else in my closet!
If I peeked into your closet, what color would be the most prominent?
Pink with lots of floral prints.
What fashion piece would you splurge on tomorrow if you could?
A Lela Rose dress, I love her collections!
Are there any trends you’re excited about right now?
I love the pearl headbands I’m seeing everywhere. They’re a fun and easy way to dress up a look on the go or make a bad hair day look great in a snap.
Let’s talk Beauty…
What are your beauty must-haves?
My magnetic eyelashes (a recent find that was the best $13 I ever spent!), Pantene Rescue Hair Shots (I blow my hair out every week since I’m always on the go this saves me a lot of time when getting ready so these are a lifesaver with keeping my hair from drying out) and First Aid Beauty Oatmeal Face mask to help moisturize my skin during the harsh Chicago winters.
What perfume do you spritz on as you walk out the door?
Miss Dior Eau de Toilette
What color nail polish are you currently wearing?
Let’s talk Décor…
Describe your decorating style in three adjectives.
Colorful, transitional and casual elegance
What’s on your bar cart?
A little bit of everything, I love entertaining so I always make sure to stock the bar cart for guests before dinner parties or game nights.
Do you have any must-have coffee table books?
I’m always switching mine out to change things up a little. But currently, I have on my table: In the Company of Women, The Perfectly Imperfect Home and All in Good Taste.
Let’s talk Travel…
Beach or Mountains?
Both, I love a relaxing beach vacation but am always up for hiking or have been dying to try skiing in the mountains.
East Coast or West Coast?
What is your favorite destination?
Positano, my husband and I went there for our honeymoon and are dying to go back!
Are you planning any upcoming trips?
Visiting my brother in Denver, Colorado this summer and hoping to make it to Amsterdam this fall.
Who is your favorite travel buddy?
My husband, we both love to explore where we travel to as locals and do a lot of research beforehand on the best places to eat!
Go-to cocktail when you’re traveling?
I try to be adventurous on trips and order what they recommend but if that fails, I resort to red wine. Never can go wrong there.
What is your top bucket list destination?
Paris and Ireland!
Let’s talk Chicago (city you live in)…
What does living in Chicago mean to you? Any favorite part of living in Chicago?
It’s such a fun city with endless things to do and people to meet. I moved here right after college not knowing a single person and six years later, I find myself running into people I know everywhere.
Fill in the blank: “On the weekend, you’ll find me at _____________.”
A cocktail bar with girlfriends (current fave: The Darling) or Shoe’s Pub in Lincoln Park singing karaoke
Best date night restaurant?
So many good food options in Chicago, current fave is Proxi and Momotaro. But my go-to is Cafe Ba Ba Reeba in Lincoln Park.
Best girls’ night out restaurant or bar?
Hampton Social for dinner and then The Bassment (speakeasy underneath) for drinks!
Best brunch restaurant?
Beatrix and Southport Grocery & Cafe (be sure to order the grown-up poptart, it’s delish!).
Best boutique(s) or shop/shopping?
Anywhere on Armitage Avenue, lots of cute local boutiques.
In the summer there are endless things to do, my top two recommendations for someone visiting would be grabbing drinks at a rooftop bar downtown followed by a sunset cruise or boat tour. I recommend a Saturday night because all the boats stop by Navy Pier at the end so you can watch the fireworks from the water.
Anything else we need to know about Chicago?
It’s a must add to your travel list if you’ve never been and if you need any recommendations, don’t hesitate to reach out. I love planning weekends for visitor!
Photography thanks to Megan Patterson