Life in the Fashion Lane

Megan Holdren
How one Colorado girl went from the corporate world, to becoming a mainstay in western fashion, design, and modeling industries.

When one meets Megan Holdren for the first time, they can tell that she’s something unique. 

This spunky little spitfire exudes the ultimate feeling of cool, and rightly so. You guys know the kind of girl being referred to. The girl who nails the effortless look, without actually putting any effort forth. The girl whose entire outfit is compiled of all the pieces that the rest of us have stuck in the back of our closets (because we have no idea how to wear them) and boy can she pull it off. 

For anyone who knows Megan personally, this comes as no surprise. As the owner and designer behind LiveWire, Megan has an incredible eye for the uncommon, and when paired with her creative abilities, she can make even the most mundane, come alive. 

LIFE BEFORE LIVEWIRE

Megan Holdren
“My first memory of cutting was turning back for my friend’s dad, in his indoor. I think I was probably 10? In high school, I loved cutting, but I was too chicken to take part. In college, I needed money, so I got a job at three different barns, one of which was a cutting barn. I have been sold out for cutting ever since.

Like most of us, Megan is a rural route girl. When asked about her childhood, Megan jokes, “I grew up in Southern Colorado, in a fancy little town called Ignacio. We were so fancy we didn’t see much need for stop lights in the town, so we didn’t have any. Or, it could also be due to the fact that Ignacio was too rural to justify a stoplight.” 

After high school, Megan moved to Greeley to attend the University of Northern Colorado. She majored in Political Science, and after college she “hit the corporate ground running”, working in the poultry division of JBS. 

Between graduating college and beginning her career, Megan married her husband Ryan (2009). Megan loved her career in food production. It was not until 2011, when the two welcomed their first daughter, that Megan began to realize that maybe the corporate world just was not for her. 

“When I left my job at JBS, it wasn’t for fashion. I left to be a momma, have my own hours, be there for my new baby girl, who at the time was totally indifferent toward me. I worked the normal corporate hours which wasn’t all that conducive to the family life I had envisioned.”

Ryan and Megan made some life adjustments, the biggest being Ryan leaving a comfortable government job and taking a high-paying oil field position, so Megan could stay home and take care of Paige. What Megan did not realize at the time, was that her busy personality would need more. 

“A workaholic suddenly wasn’t working, which was a total culture shock for me. So, I decided to take on anything I could. I owned a few sewing machines and wasn’t half bad at using them. So, fashion came to the forefront.”

DESIGN A LIFE YOU LOVE

Thus, LiveWire was born.

Megan Holdren
Megan Holdren, founder of Livewire and co-owner of CM Modeling, resides in Colorado with her husband Ryan (pictured). In addition to the two businesses, they have three kids, Paige, Gracie, and Braxon.

The story behind the name LiveWire is just as inspiring as the woman who created it. 

“The name LiveWire came from a lifetime of development and growth,” says Megan. 

“My very best friend growing up, her dad would say, ‘Well aren’t you just a live wire’. Not really understanding the totality of what he meant, I decided to roll with it. Through college, I sure did prove the title true. My junior year at UNC, I randomly attended this church service by myself, in a barn. It absolutely changed my life and ever since then, I have been a LiveWire for Christ. It was only fitting to name my work after the most significant description of my life.” 

The authentic nature that Megan emits when telling the story of how the name LiveWire came to be, is just as one-of-a-kind as the pieces she builds. It also sets the stage for the haphazard way the brand came to be. 

“Kristen Holtzendorf was a designer I worked with on my very first fashion editorial. The product I needed didn’t show up to the shoot, so I pulled some pieces I made myself. She asked me what brand it was. I said, ‘No brand, just a few things I made’. She looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘You need to get your act together and design’. I was stunned because it was the first time I had ever met her.” 

Megan followed Kristen’s advice, and LiveWire was officially established in 2013 when Megan designed a ready to wear collection that showed in Dallas. In the past five years, the brand and Megan both, have evolved into custom, couture, bridal, and new collaboration lines with brands like Greeley Hat Works and Kimes Ranch Jeans. 

Trent Johnson, with Greeley Hat Works, is another person that Megan is quick to recognize as someone who helped pour her brand’s foundation.  

“He pushed me, gave me the right contacts and helped me with my business plan. A true example of showing up time after time for someone, with no return for personal or business growth for himself at the time.”

Megan’s favorite part of collaborating with other brands has been the friendships she has been able to create. The idea of trying something new together, with big name brands in the industry is something she will always be grateful for. 

“They have shaped me as a designer, introduced me to an industry of leaders, and gave me full reign in designing collections. Without any of these brands believing in me, nothing I’m doing in the industry would be possible.”

PUSHING THE WESTERN ENVELOPE

Anyone who loves fashion knows that it moves at a high rate of speed. One year something is in, and the next year it’s out—never to be resurrected until the next decade. For a designer, the quick nature of fashion is something that is equal parts good and bad. The good is you can always have a job designing for the future; the bad is that a creative mind cannot have much time to rest. As fast as the fashion lane moves, how does Megan keep her foot on the gas? 

“I feel like it is a bit of a war from time to time. I love so much of what is going down the runway right now—the Scandinavian styles, splatter paint designs, dolman sleeves—all of it. None of which is western. However, I grew up in no man’s land, all I knew about life was western. No matter what I design, it all has a western root somewhere.” 

Megan Holdren
Megan loves traditional Americana fabrics that are predominately seen in western fashion, such as denim, leather, and velvet.

For that reason, Megan loves traditional Americana fabrics that are predominately seen in western fashion, such as denim, leather, and velvet. The same applies to techniques like a simple blanket stitch or pulling in a Native artist to bead or paint the finishing touches. 

Possibly one of Megan’s truest connections to designing western pieces, are the custom gowns she creates for women attending the National Finals Rodeo’s Back Number Ceremony. 

“My goal in creating gowns for western women is twofold. The first being to capture what someone wants to feature and incorporate their identity into the piece. The second is, I want to push the western fashion envelope. I want to show that we over here in western have the resources and means to design wearable, runway-worthy pieces.”

Teaming up with some of the leading ladies in western has given Megan the freedom and stage to showcase her concept that the western fashion design is as fashion-forward as the catwalks of New York City. It’s also allowed her to find her design niche: custom, cowgirl couture. 

“Custom, if I do say so myself is my strong suit, and my absolute favorite segment of the brand,” Megan remarks. “I love getting to know an individual and creating a piece that totally embodies who they are. This past year I broke into bridal, that was a dream come true. Making the gown, veil, and styling the bride on her day was the ultimate for me!”

GO-TO GIRLS

Megan Holdren
In addition to Livewire, Megan, along with her good friend Candace Lohstroh and Candace’s husband, former PBR World Champion, Kody Lohstroh, have established CM Modeling.

In addition to LiveWire, Megan is also the co-owner of CM Modeling, along with Candace Lostroh. Yet the story of Candace, Megan, CM Modeling, and LiveWire, go back further than the two tend to realize. 

“I high school rodeoed with Candace, and her husband Kody. When I was in college, I went into a feed store here in town to pick up some feed. Candace was there. I was seriously just empty inside. I needed a lifeline more than I could even have known, and sure to Candace’s nature, she provided. She told me about this random barn, where people went to church. Showing how empty I was I went, by myself, on a recommendation from a girl I barely knew. On the way, I got lost for almost an hour, but I somehow still had enough tenacity to walk in. Candace saw me, walked from the front row to welcome me in, in front of everyone. This pretty much sums up our relationship and exactly the kind of woman she is.”

This same church service is the one referenced earlier, where “LiveWire”, took on a whole new meaning to Megan. 

Since then, the two, along with Candace’s husband Kody, have built CM Modeling, a western-based modeling agency. Purchased from its creator at the beginning of 2018, the three owners have turned it into a booming business. The agency already has more than 50 models, both men and women, in its arsenal, and has worked with brands such as Miss Macie, Miller International, Rockin B Clothing, Buffalo Mercantile, Hobby Horse, Elaine James, and many others. 

“It’s crazy to think that we get submissions every day,” says Megan. “The toughest part is finding the right girl or guy, for the right client. It’s like matchmaking.”

The agency’s goal is to have enough talent to solely be the western industry’s go-to agency. Once that is accomplished, they look to move into the outdoor modeling sector, as well. 

“I want our agency to be able to do it all, print and runway. Right now, mainstream fashion is focusing in on our backyard style, which is western. How amazing would it be to pull the whole idea together by putting real cowgirls on the runway with the western-inspired collections being produced by heavy hitters such as Calvin Klein, Dior, and Ralph Lauren?” 

THE FUTURE OF LIVEWIRE

It is safe to say that Megan has made quite a few moves, both personal and business, since her drift from the corporate world seven short years ago. In addition to their two businesses, she and Ryan have also added two more kids to the mix, Gracie (2014) and Braxson (2015). 

When asked what Megan considers to be LiveWire’s defining moment, she gives the most humble, yet telling answer. 

“It’s hard to say, actually. This whole thing has been just a series of events—events that still continue to this day to give me my start. As a designer, you never really feel as if you have an ‘I’ve made it’ feeling. Well, I don’t anyway. I just have the ‘Good, I completed what I set out to, now what’s next’ feeling.”

Megan does not necessarily know what will come next, but we can only imagine that this woman’s future will come dressed in custom-designed, cowgirl couture.

*****
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