Meagan Lee Carboney, 31

look2Written by Shawnna Stiver
Photos by Duane Tinkey

Five Things to Know About Meagan Lee Carboney

1. She’s had a lifelong passion for fashion. Carboney says her father loves to recall the time when she stubbornly refused to wear comfortable shoes to the Iowa State Fair. “I was 6 years old, and I insisted on wearing jellies,” she says. “Sure enough, 20 minutes after arriving, we were at the first-aid stand getting Band-Aids for my feet.”

At 19, Carboney dropped out of college to pursue working in fashion. “My heart wasn’t there, so I took a leap
of faith and moved to Los Angeles,” says Carboney, who built a career there for 10 years working for Bebe and BCBG Max Azria before returning to Des Moines two years ago with her husband, Donovan. Today, she’s a clothing buyer for Aimée in the East Village.

2. Her grandmother helped fuel her ambition. “My grandmother worked for Younkers for more than 30 years. She always promised to hand me down clothing items I admired,” Carboney says, adding that as a young girl, she aspired to one day have closets as full as her grandmother’s. As Carboney’s biggest fan, her grandmother encouraged her to follow her dream.
“I did something she always wanted to do,” Carboney says. “She got to vicariously live through me.”

3. She has dressed Cher. Carboney’s celebrity clients in Los Angeles included Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Cher. “I remember the first time Cher called,” Carboney says. “In her deep voice, she says, ‘Is Meagan there?’ I couldn’t believe it.”

Carboney says she looks at dressing others like an artist would a painting. “You start with an empty canvas, add color, texture and proportion and then piece it all together,” she says. “Hair is important; if the hairstyle doesn’t match the outfit, it ruins everything.”

4. She has a knack for melding charm with hard-nosed negotiation. That combination served her well in Los Angeles. “Being from Iowa really got me far in the city,” she says. “I “I didn’t have experience, but I knew I could do the job better than anyone because I had the passion.”

At Aimée, negotiation is a skill she cultivates daily. “I’m brutally honest,” she says. “People don’t expect this side of me because I’m so sweet. It might be viewed as a weak spot, but I’m not backing down. And I’m usually getting job offers at the end of negotiations.”

5. She’s a farm girl at heart. Moving back to Iowa has helped Carboney achieve more of a work-life balance. She and Donovan travel to her parents’ farm in Huxley for weekend retreats. “We chop wood and help with the cows and chickens,” she says. “I call myself ‘Hollywood farm girl’ because I’m always dressed in the fanciest farming outfit.”

Carboney is content with her decision to move back to Iowa. “I lived more in those 10 years (in Los Angeles) than most do in a lifetime. I’m very happy with where I am right now,” she says. “My dream would be to inspire people to take risks. A big risk equals an even bigger reward.”

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