Miles Apart, Close at Heart


Today is a very special day because one of my very best friends turns 19! My and Mandy's friendship is so unique and special. We happened to meet a few summers ago during a trip to NYC and completely hit it off. Thanks to countless letters, calls, texts, and snapchats, we were able to build our friendship even while living across the country. Mandy and I are both so different, but really get each other. She has been a source of endless support and encouragement (and sass!) in my life, especially when it comes to blogging. We started our blogs around the same time and I can't even express how incredible it has been to be on this journey together! We've been there for each other to brainstorm new ideas, work through tough decisions, and celebrate exciting milestones.

Celebrating Mandy's birthday today has me missing her more than ever and reminiscing on when we spent a whole week together here in California. It was so fun to have this North Carolina girl visit me on the West Coast. We had the best time hanging out in my hometown, exploring San Francisco, and soaking up the sun in Lake Tahoe, but I think my very favorite moment of Mandy's trip was seeing Mandy try In N Out for the first time. It must have been 2am, she was delirious from the time change, and we were both just cracking up throughout the entire meal. It's always those funny little memories that end up being the most meaningful. Happy birthday to my joyful, passionate, and always quirky blogging bestie! Sending so much love today and everyday! We may be miles apart, but Mandy and I will always be close at heart! 


Madz Design


Meet Maddie Nieman. She's the designer and creative director behind Madz Design, and is a girl boss in every sense of the word. Her witty stationary is what first caught my attention, but I soon realized what an incredible designer and entrepreneurs she is as well. Maddie is a college grad from Chicago who recently moved to LA to build her brand. It was so great to ask Maddie a few questions and get her insight into the world of design!

Where did the idea to start your own business come from?
The idea to start my own business came about in a bit of an unexpected way. After studying advertising and graphic design in college, I got my first design job at a marketing agency back home in Chicago. But, I wasn’t even a full year into it when I had the “Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like” freak out that many twenty-somethings have. It got me thinking about the things I enjoyed most and what made me the happiest. Graphic design was still at the top of that list. But I was surprised to realize that one of the things I longed for most was from my college years, and had absolutely nothing to do with my majors. My junior year, I decided to take on a challenge completely outside of my comfort zone, and was elected president of my sorority. All of a sudden my days were now filled with exec meetings, budget reports, PR ideas, and a million other little things. No day was ever the same, and I loved it. But because of the bad rap sororities can get sometimes, I was nervous about how this could help my future or how it would look on a resume. But it wasn’t until an exec meeting with the Dean of Students that this all really clicked for me. He compared what we were doing to running a small business. And he was completely right. Now flash forward two years to “adult Maddie”. I’m sitting at my desk in my 9 to 5 job, taking a third bathroom break to check my Instagram. I was unfulfilled and anxious for something different. When I started really thinking about it, it was so clear that combining the two things I loved seemed like a perfect fit. A few months later, I gave my two weeks notice and decided to start my own design business. Two years later, and I haven’t looked back since. 

Describe your daily routine.
Well the beauty of running your own business is that none of my days feel routine. Yes, I wake up, I get dressed, make some breakfast, maybe go workout (emphasis on maybe). But when it comes time to sit down at my desk and get to work, every day is different. My work is split into two parts. Somedays, I’m focusing purely on graphic design and working with clients on a variety of projects from web to print design. The other days, which happen to be my favorite, I’m focused solely on my store, Shop Madz. Depending on the time of year, I can be spending my days brainstorming new ideas for greeting cards, putting together a wholesale catalog, answering customers questions, and most importantly fulfilling all of my orders. Truly, no day is ever the same.

What keeps you inspired?
My immediate answer to this question would be, Instagram. I wish I had a more interesting answer, but it truly does inspire me on a daily basis. I’m constantly following new people that are doing such interesting and unique things. Another huge inspiration for my designs is music. I’ve grown up dancing, and music has played such a huge part in my life. So naturally, it shows up in a majority of my products. I have playlists on my Spotify for pretty much every possible mood/occasion. The right playlist can bring out some of my best ideas!

During the weekend, your favorite thing to do is…
Well I moved out to LA a little under a year ago. So as a newbie still, I love anything that involves the ocean, sunshine, or some awesome dance classes. Also, don’t judge me for this… but sometimes my favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon is work. But only on the fun stuff. Since I no longer feel the pressures of deadlines or traditional working hours, I spend that extra time just creating cool things I wouldn’t find time to otherwise.

What has been the biggest surprise since you’ve launched Madz Design?
The biggest surprise was the first time one of my cards was featured in a Huffington Post article. It was the “You’re the Blair to my Serena” card. When I created my first line of cards for Valentine’s Day, I almost didn’t include that one. I was unsure anyone else would relate to it the way that I did. Clearly I’m not the only crazy Gossip Girl fan out there. Little did I know that it would be my all time best selling card. Thanks to that, I’m much more trusting of my initial opinions of the cards I create. Always trust your gut. I know I’m my toughest critic when it comes to my shop. So anytime I get something featured in a big article there’s an element of surprise, but mostly excitement. It’s much needed validation to stay true to my brand, my ideas, and my vision. 

How would you describe your brand in 3 words?
Paper Meets Personality :)

I'm so glad Maddie could stop by to share her design, blogging, and business wisdom! Now what are you still doing on my blog?! Go check out Maddie's witty, pretty, and colorful shop!

PS: More awesome girl boss interviews about working for Seventeen Magazine and being a full time fashion blogger.