Career Experiments: Madison

I was introduced to Madison by way of a mutual friend who loved her design style. Our initial emails about project ideas grew into lively brainstorming/editing sessions, where Madison would do her magic in real time, editing behind the scenes as our conversation progressed and then voila! - something better than I imagined would refresh on my screen. Her fun personal site is about as upbeat and friendly as she is. 

Madison is a true creative, dabbling in projects that build new skills while she investigates her interests. I'm impressed with her skill-building drive (Which is essential...the more skills you have, the more opportunities you have access to!) but I'm floored by her focus on building a community. We talk a lot here about "learning from your tribe," but she's taking it up a level and uniting her own. Wow. 


Who: Madison, 27

What: Graphic designer, artist, serial encourager

What career interest(s) are you currently exploring?

I’ve always had a passion for supporting local businesses - specifically artists and local makers. I live in a small town. We have tons of makers and creatives, but we don’t really have a place to make sales and gather with community. We kind of have to go into the city for that. Nothing against Atlanta, but I think that’s a real bummer! It’s all right here. We just don’t know each other yet. I have been thinking about creating a maker’s place - think retail shop and workshop space for classes alongside private artist studios. There are several wonderful models for this in the city, but not out here! (Yet!)

How did you discover that interest?

I think it’s always been in the back of my mind. I worked as an office and community manager for a while and I loved creating a welcoming environment. I worked with an arts nonprofit and enjoyed coordinating with artists and nonprofits to do workshops and art events. I worked as a brand manager for a blog and enjoyed connecting with large brands for sponsorships and paid posts. I enjoy making my own little line of greeting cards.

Through all these experiences, I was able to take what I learned and apply that to the next project.

Everyone has so much to offer and receive. So much to teach and learn. We just need to be mindful about putting the pieces in place. I really like putting the pieces in place.

What are you doing to investigate?

I am really trying to be gentle with the maker’s place idea and see if it’s a good fit. I am working with another small town evangelist, Small Town Creatives, to coordinate their first maker’s pop up shop at our local brewery. Pretty cool and special! It’s my own mini career experiment!

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I also started working part time at a local yoga studio to see if I enjoy being in a place at a certain time every day. Turns out, I do! The routine and consistency are so nice after 2 years of dry shampoo and #freelancelife. I’m learning a lot about customer service, about business operations, scheduling and how to solve problems. The owner of the shop is a very smart and thoughtful about her business, and I really enjoy learning from her.

What has surprised you most about your investigations so far?

While I’m in the experimental stage, I have been slowly whittling down the design projects I take on.

Starting a business is so freeing, but sometimes it can feel a little prison-like too. (Just me?) It can be tough to see how to grow beyond what you’ve built. It’s actually quite scary to think about pivoting or changing your business, “just when you’ve got it figured out.” Saying no to new work feels impossible because you’ve created this momentum and you don’t want to waste it! (While I totally get that - that’s a scarcity mindset and it has no place here!)

This experiment has created a much healthier balance of work and play for me. I've been working on my photography, my writing and illustration. I've been reading a lot. It's been fun! I’m excited to see where this goes!