I met with Megan Hunt in her feminine oasis of an office behind her shop "Hello Holiday" to talk Omaha, art, women, and luxury. Hunt and business partner-turned-bestie Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik opened Hello Holiday in 2012, and have filled a much needed void of "where do you get quality, fashionable, sweatshop-free, cute clothes in a quaint, friendly environment?" for many Omahans- myself included.
But I was there to talk CSArt, as Hunt is one of our 2016 CSArtists! Although quick to establish she does not consider herself an "artist", Hunt has been designing fashion and accessories for many years. Lately, this has taken the form of small, square paintings which she has manufactured into beautiful silk scarves. Hunt is a fan of the "affordable luxury item", which often has connotations of being frivolous and materialistic.
I think this is a huge unspoken topic in the modern woman's world. Looking down on ourselves and others for having too much makeup, spending money on "girly" things, letting our favorite objects hold too much power. I felt instantly calmed and authenticated listening to Hunt explain her take on the love for material things... "Why does that make you dumb?"...
I also got her top three wishes for the future of Omaha. Read on!
What is the inspiration for the square paintings you create which then become silk scarves?
For the past few years I’ve been very inspired by the challenge of managing the balance of being tied to my devices, and wanting to be alone and experience the real world which is a really common shared experience in my generation. What I’ve realized is that one way I feel tied to the real world is through the superficial things I tend to cling to in my real life—things that, though frivolous and petty, provide physical consistency in a world that is so transient and digitized. I love nice things. I love luxury objects. About six months ago I started making small paintings that represented these themes in my life, like a print of lips in all of the colors of lipstick I have. I did one of my perfume collection. I did one of all the makeup I use every day. So these are just sort of silly themes, but I feel like when they’re painted thoughtfully and artfully and put on these gorgeous silk scarves, it does totally represent that inspiration of where luxury and beauty meets practicality, something useful and down-to-earth. As a designer, I love offering things like this to the world that can hold as much meaning for the owner as the inspiration does for me.
What do you imagine you would be doing if you had been born a man?
It’s hard to even imagine how different my life would be as a man. I’m an ambitious woman, I’m a single mother, I’m an advocate, and I’m an entrepreneur, and all of these roles I have are so defined and shaped by my identity as a woman. As a man, I hope I’d be doing the same thing, but it is so hard to even imagine. In any case, I hope it’d be something very outside of the box, and something that allowed me to use my talents to serve and inspire others. Working mothers like me have specific challenges, but both men and women lack enough role models to demonstrate that it’s possible to live a life other than the one society tells you to, and be very happy doing it!
What do you love about an "affordable luxury item”?
I love luxury, I don’t think it necessarily costs money to have something or do something luxurious, and I don’t think it should be superficial or shameful. Even if things are superficial, they should not be shameful. Having something nice, well-made, something you’re proud to have saved up for—whether it’s a candle, some sunglasses, a keychain, a watch, a cool lamp, whatever—can be really good for your confidence. For both men and women. We express ourselves through style whether it’s intentional or not, so being thoughtful about what we want that identity to be is important. Does it have to be expensive or designer? No. You have to figure out what that is for you.
If you were granted 3 wishes for Omaha what would they be?
I love living in Omaha, and I’m so proud to be from here. Loving where I live, I feel like I have a responsibility to hold the city to a higher standard and support people who are working to improve it. What drives me personally is my concern about keeping young people in Omaha and attracting great minds from all over the world to our wonderful city. I want to see our state on the right side of history, with human rights for all Nebraska residents. I want to be a part of the movement to inspire our young people to wake up and decide what kind of city we want to be. To take their turn as leaders. So, that’s the main thing. What else?
- A more inclusive playing field for marginalized groups who just want the same chance to build their best life.
- A more robust culture of arts patronage, with space for criticism and for mentorship and a way to make art collecting more accessible and cool.
- Public transportation to affordably connect and open up all corners of the city.
What is the greatest lesson you've learned about community?
You can’t force community. It has to happen organically with relationship-building and follow where those human connections take you. What people can create and build when they’re allowed to collaborate without expectations or boundaries.