Madison Mckinley is currently living in New York City attending Parsons School of Design while creating her own custom jewelry line entitled ‘Madison Mckinley.’
1. What role, if any, does a business plan play in building and launching an arts company (as a business pursuit)?
Madison: When I started Madison Mckinley, it was more of a hobby that turned into a business. Making jewelry was something that I loved doing in my spare time during school. I started out just making it for my family and friends. Then the word spread and more and more people started to ask me for some of my jewelry! So I had my first trunk show, and ever since then it has expanded. So in a way I went about my business planning backwards because after the trunk show I had to sit down and really think about what I wanted to get out of making jewelry. In the end I chose to create a business.
2. What three pieces of advice would you give aspiring artist entrepreneurs about planning?
Madison: I think it’s key to have a really good business plan initially to use as a guideline. If you end up straying from the plan as opportunities arise, that’s perfectly fine, but it’s always a good idea to have a plan and know where you’re going. Secondly, I think it is really important to know your customer and the market you are about to enter. If you don’t know your target customer than you don’t know who you creating for and trying to appeal to. In the end, if you want it to be a business, your products have to sell. Thirdly, before entering the market or the business world, it is best to be fully prepared. Have everything ready to go before you launch, because when you launch and everything is set in motion it gets crazy. Be one step ahead.
3. What do you believe are necessary qualities, if there are any, for artist entrepreneurs to possess or develop?
Madison: One of the most important pieces of advice I can give is to find your niche in the market. Find one element that makes you stand out from all of your competition and run with it.
4. What challenges did you face when launching your first jewelry line? Have those challenges lessened over time?
Madison: I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to make special one of a kind piece or if I wanted to make pieces for production. If I wanted to make pieces for production, I had to be sure that I was able to find everything that I used for the prototype again to reproduce it. Another challenge is figuring out how to price everything correctly and limiting myself with materials that would not drive up the price so as to affect the pieces’ ability to sell.
5. In regards to your jewelry line, which aspect brings you the greatest amount of joy?
Madison: I get so much joy out of seeing my inspiration come to life. Every season I base my entire collection around one inspiration. Every season it changes. So with each new inspiration I love designing and creating new pieces around that idea, but within my own aesthetic. Also another fun thing that I’ve had the opportunity to do is collaborate with other artists. I love the collaboration process. It is amazing!
6. What has been your proudest moment so far as an artist and an entrepreneur?
Madison: As an artist, I think the proudest moments are seeing people who I don’t know wear my jewelry with pride. When you see someone who you have no connection with enjoying your creations it makes you feel like you have officially accomplished something.
7. How have your family, friends, and other supporters encouraged and inspired your success?
Madison: My family and friends have been there every step of the way, encouraging me and helping me grow. Doing what you love and what you are passionate about is not always easy. My family and friends help push my limits. They are inspiring me constantly.
8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Madison: In five years, I hope to expand Madison McKinley into a lifestyle line. Beginning with various collections at other prices for different markets. I hope to eventually have a clothing line that will compliment the jewelry. Just keep expanding!
Interview by Penny Shumway
Penny Shumway is a junior honor student in Southern Methodist University’s Communications Studies and Arts Entrepreneurship programs.