Mount O Country


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Highlighting a new generation of idealistic cigarette ad models but without the tar and nicotine. Taste the difference of these young students and professionals who are doing cool shit and setting a new paradigm for the rest of us.

This is episode "🧵" and we have a reverse office hours session with Skylar Maio. Skylar is a Junior at the University of Southern California and studying Public Relations. She is a sister in Delta Gamma and among many things is also the founder of Rae Threads.

There are unicorns in sports. I am not referring to the best of the best, but those who are able to do many things at a high level. Typically fans and journalists use the more colloquial, "two-sport athlete" but the term misses the rarity of it. There is nothing commonplace about an athlete who can compete at the highest level in two professional sports. Knowing how much time and energy and commitment is involved, it is truly a marvel to watch. The most diehard fans celebrate it as a once in a lifetime occurrence.

I am not sure what the equivalent term is in non-sports contexts, but whatever it is, Skylar has it. Skylar may not be a professional athlete, but her ability to do many things incredibly well at a high level makes her that unicorn. And she is only in college. She has a capacity for work unlike many college students. Most of us spread out too thin too easily, but she has an uncanny ability to give her all not just to school, her sorority, her business, working as a brand partner but socially she is a sought out friend who is kind and generous. While she makes it look easy and seems to navigate with such grace and wisdom, she admits it is tough at times. But she really wouldn't want it any other way.

Skylar with her cosmetic bags

Skyar kicking it with her Rae Threads bags

We have been looking forward to this. Here is our reverse office hours with Skylar.

What has been an unexpected or pleasant surprise being a DG at USC?

I originally wasn't going to rush a sorority due to some of the stereotypes. I didn't think I fit into those stereotypes, nor would it be something I would be interested in. But I am open-minded to a lot of things and I don't like to close myself off to opportunities that might be helpful. I saw many of my friends had joined sororities and were very happy and meeting people who were like minded. I went out and gave it a try and rushed. And honestly, I am so glad that I did. I actually now live in the sorority house! DG is just so different than what I thought it was going to be; it eliminated all the negative stereotypes I had on the idea of a sorority. It has presented me with people who are so supportive and helpful with finding solutions from little things in life to bigger things like job opportunities. Everyone has each other's back and there is a lot of creative influence in this house which is really beneficial for me, and also very inspiring.

You are involved in so many things yet do not half-ass anything. What is your process for managing so many things really well? Is it just natural for you?

It is funny you ask because the reality is I am a little stressed, but I use time management to a T. I cannot live without my to-do list. I have a to-do list every single day. I live and breathe off my to-do list to make sure that I get things done. I give myself prompt due dates for things, it is just how my mind processes. I do not like to half-ass anything and having a to-do list is something I personally need. It used to be little sticky notes and now I actually have a to-do list I got from Amazon with these lines and I fill it all out. It is seriously the way I function because I do have so many things going on whether school assignments or House stuff, my social life, RaeThreads, I am even a Brand Partner and doing some marketing for Genies, etc. I have a lot things going on at once, I don't know how I am doing it. But I do need to check in with myself more often. I don't do that enough. I honestly don't know what "doing nothing" looks like, but I live for being productive and being useful and helpful to others.

Skylar happy

Ecstatic Skylar

You had an impressive product development internship with Guess last summer. What is your advice for those seeking out internships.

This summer taught me so much. This was my first big corporate job. But I really wanted to strive to find an internship in a corporate fashion setting. I was actually scrambling at the end of May trying to find an internship because my prior internship fell through at the last minute. It was one of the first times where I really felt out of control of something because typically I am applying way in advance so I don't feel stress like that. So when the internship fell through I had no idea what to do. And I am so thankful for events that happen in Greek Life. Earlier in the school year I met another girl at a party who had worked at Guess as an intern the previous year. I recalled that conversation and wondered if Guess had an internship, so I DM'd her. She was awesome, literally the best person ever (shout out Mykah). But she was so helpful, there were only two internship opportunities available because all the other spots were taken. I said, "I will take whatever, I want to learn the corporate fashion world and I will be very adapting." My options were either supply chain or product development in denim. I said, "ok let's go full send in product development in denim." I cannot emphasize enough how life changing it was and how it changed the way I think about not only the fashion industry, but also my brand. In everyday life I use tactics that I learned in product development I never knew existed outside my internship. Working an 8-5 was a killer and really eye opening on how I need to drink more coffee or something, haha. My advice though is to make connections with people. I never would have been given the opportunity if I didn't remember that I had met someone at a Greek Life event. Any connection you make with someone can benefit you in the long term. But be a nice person. The reason I felt comfortable DM-ing was because I made a relationship with that person. Any relationship you make with a stranger, treat it like a friendship.

What inspired you to start Rae Threads?

I get asked this a lot and it always makes me smile when I tell this story because it was a happy accident. During the pandemic in 2020, I was senior class president in high school. All the plans for senior year got cut short and I have always been a creative person. I even used to mix hand sanitizers and lotions to make new scents. I have a creative mind and love trying new inventions. Anyways, one thing I have always wanted to learn was how to sew. One day I used an old t-shirt and my mom dusted off her old sewing machine, which was a wedding gift. We had a little too much caffeine and watched a YouTube video on how to make a cosmetic bag. After about an hour and a half, I finally had a prototype of my Rae Threads bags. Here I am two years later still sewing away, but how it came to be was that I decided to post my creation on Instagram. I thought was terrible by the way, but I was so proud of it because I had never sewn anything before. I felt like a little Martha Stewart, haha and so I posted on my instagram story and then a handful of people responded saying they wanted one. So I started selling via DM, then I started an Instagram page, and then a website. I have just evolved since then. I didn't mean for this to happen, but happy accidents do make for the best experiences and learning curves.

Rae Threads Cosmetic Bag

Close up of a Rae Threads Cosmetic Bag

You recently formed a collab with Fred Segal. How did that all go down and what did you learn from the process?

Once again, knowing someone. I cannot emphasize this point enough. In the creative industry it is all about knowing people. And it's unfortunate how people can sometimes overstep that boundary, but in the creative industry when you know creative people you want to help each other out. It is a natural instinct that I have seen with my own experience that people in creative fields want to help each other. I too, want to help other people. If people need advice I want to be there for them. That is a natural instinct of mine, and I feel that I have received that as well. Fred Segal happened because my best friend from college has a sister who bought a bag from me. She also works at Fred Segal and she had her RaeThreads bag out. Her boss saw the bag and asked about it, so she showed it to her boss and loved it. What happened next was that I was exhausted from my internship and then I got the text to get on a call to pitch my product. I then realized this is real and actually has potential. Next thing I know I am on a call with my friend's sister, my bigger sister that I never had (Yas), and the owner of Fred Segal. As I was pitching my company to them, I actually started tearing up a little during the presentation. As I was going through my timeline of how I became a brand, I got emotional because I had never zoomed out to see all the work and follow through that went into it. Then to see all the support from my friends was so touching and I never thought this happy accident would become real. Learning from this process, I realized it's important to be kind, believe in your brand and put in the work. I didn't think it would make it this far honestly. I am still learning new things, but recently they just put in a second order with me for the holidays. So I am back in learning mode again.

Fred Segal bag with Rae Threads bag

Collab with Fred Segal (second order incoming!)

What is your advice to those who may want to get into fashion either as an industry or starting their own brand?

If you want to get into the fashion industry it is really for those who are ready to work. And to start you may end up doing unglamorous tasks. But if you have a passion for the industry, then it is totally worth it. The internship was hard work for me, but even with all the hard work I still wanted to be involved. My advice is to try every different department. Personally, my dream job is to be my own boss or be a creative director for a fashion company. But I know getting there starts with being able to try different departments. I didn't know all these departments existed before my internship. In short, do your research and if you know you want to work for a fashion company, just do it! Hit up LinkedIn, network, talk to people.

For those who want to start their own...go for it! My company wasn't planned. There was no mood board or aesthetic. Everyday I am trying to find my niche and target audience. You don't need to have a step by step process and check off boxes to be a success. I am still a very small business and could definitely be doing things differently in order to grow more. But I am also a college student, I have a life outside of this. This is also something I want to enjoy. If I stop enjoying it, then I what is the point? Starting your own business doesn't mean you have to start a certain way. There is no start and end. You pave your own path and the way you get there is the way you get there. You can get influence from others certainly, but your path is your own path. If the pace is too fast, then slow down. When it stops being enjoyable reflect and ask: is it worth it? I think it is important to be proud of your work and if you are burnt out, you need to ask if it's worth your time.

Biggest personal life lesson(s) you’ve learned through experience in college that you think others might benefit from.

I have to remind myself of this all the time, but you are going to work the remainder of your life. I sometimes get in this "work, work, work" mindset and I forget that I am a kid. I am only going to be in college for so long. Maybe I don't need to get the next product out tomorrow, maybe I can go out with friends. So do something with the people that make you happy and support you. You don't want to walk away from college saying, "well I didn't do much." You don't need to compare experiences with others, but I don't want to regret that I put all my energy in just work. It is important to me to take the time to be with friends and give back to myself and be young. If I was not in a college setting, I would be laser focused on business, but I am in college and am a full time student. It is okay to take breaks and breathers. One day won't kill you. Ultimately, I want to have these memories to share later.

Random Question: You get to plan the ultimate pool party but can only spend on 1 aspect. Do you invest in music/DJ, location, food/drinks or flamingos. Why?

I would definitely invest in the music. People can eat and drink before. No matter where you are, it is good music that brings in good people, good vibes and brings an ultimate pool party. Flamingos would be awesome, but music is what carries the party.

Skylar and Rae Threads bags

Skylar posing with her collection

Be sure to check out Rae Threads or the Fred Segal collection. You can also visit Instagram. Or if you are a little more corporate, Skylar's LinkedIn.

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About Mount O

Mount O is a digital community with a pre-social media soul aiming to maximize your college experience with the best communication tools, network & the occasional meme. We believe a period of maximum freedom and minimum responsibility is the prime occasion to build lifelong friends, wisdom and career opportunities. We mainly facilitate this through our free House Management app. Our service provides cleaner comms and a more community-driven Greek Life on your campus. We also send out and post Mount O Country articles on bad ass students, provide real life office hours, and like to post memes & videos about Greek and College Life on our instagram.

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