[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]n a time where we’re pushed to be extroverted, it’s easy to feel guilty sometimes after spending a day at home under the covers. Stay Home Club, a clothing brand based in Montreal, has eliminated this feeling of guilt by bringing introverts together with a club that never actually meets. I had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of the brand, artist Olivia Mew, at no place else than the comfort of her own home.
When we arrived Mew was just finishing up with her surprisingly hip accountant/friend and upon showing off her new “flying cash” ankle tattoo, I knew this was going to be an interesting interview. Sporting a t-shirt with the words “Don’t Laugh You’re Here Too,” Mew put on a pot of tea and welcomed us into her living space. Her house is exactly how you would imagine it; framed illustrations on the walls, trendy yet functional decor, and two rather friendly cats.
Mew created Stay Home Club in August 2012, starting with printing licensed work on pillow cases. She eventually put the Stay Home Club logo on Tumblr and after receiving a ton of notes, she decided to print the logo on a t-shirt. The grouchy aesthetic and sentiment associated with the brand was received exceptionally well, so Mew took her idea and ran with it. She created the company with the intention of it being a collaborative project. She now works with 4-5 artists who each have their own collection and she has a new collaboration with Relax Adult coming out in the near future.
Mew has truly created her own dream job. Before creating Stay Home Club, she always felt “having a day job sucks,” and knew exactly what she wanted: “I need to find a way to make this into my living. Stay Home Club was a double entendre in that way. I was doing it to find a way to stay home full time.” While Mew might be from Toronto, she has become an important figure in the Montreal art and fashion scene. What makes life in Montreal unique is that “the creative community here is really vibrant partially because the rent is so cheap. You can afford to live here and do art for a living.”
Mew loves running her own business, but she confesses that she’s super disorganized. However, she does “have a passion for logistics” and with prior Etsy experience, she’s been able to keep everything running smoothly and increase sales over the past year.
It’s often believed that one needs to be extroverted in order to succeed in business, but Mew credits the internet with changing this notion. Even though she was a little camera shy during the interview, Mew explains, “if you get me in a room I never shut up […] but I’m always the first person to leave a party […] Maybe I’m an introvert? I don’t really know. Every time I read about it, the definitions are more confusing. I can’t place myself in it.”
The author of a XoJane article explains how discovering Stay Home Club helped her realize that she was an introvert. Mew wasn’t expecting this kind of response, but when she created the brand, she always knew it was going to be a network of likeminded people. While the sentiment of the brand might be seen as negative, the community behind it is extremely positive and supportive.
New clothing brands are popping up all over the place with the facilitation of social media that often disappear as quickly as they came. Though this is how Stay Home Club gained it’s following, the brand has managed to stay relevant since it’s conception. Mew explains, “I don’t think it’s a describable thing, you either have it or you don’t […] a brand comes from a real idea and a real original thought —I think mine did and as far as I know there wasn’t really anything with that same vibe going on when I started. I certainly didn’t look at another brand and try to emulate that. It came from my real personality. That’s what keeps it relevant; that it’s real.”
While big retailers have attempted to copy aspects of Mew’s brand, there’s something genuine about the club that can’t be found when buying into a larger company. Even stores like H&M have grabbed hold of the grouchy aesthetic and Mew explains that “once it’s in those stores there’s not far to go before people call it a stupid trend.” She continues, “the more you call it a trend, the quicker it’s going to fade into nothingness.”
It can be frustrating when other people blatantly copy her designs and ideas and she explains how “anything that’s jumping on a bandwagon just dilutes it for those of us that have really, truly been doing it.” For this reason Mew gives this advice: “the way to have a lasting business is to have it come from an original and realistic place.” She understands the cyclical nature of fashion but also stresses that “there’s always ways to reinvent”.
Olivia Mew doesn’t stop and can’t be stopped. She has illustrated for an impressive slew of clients such as The Walrus, Chronicle Books, Literary Review of Canada, L’Oreal Canada and even The Main. She does wish she could take on more illustration jobs but now that her business is booming, her freelance illustration career has fallen to the side for the time being. She plans to start manufacturing everything herself in the near future to create a real apparel company.
Stay Home Club merchandise can be purchased online and select items are sold at Annex Vintage.