By Madison Maxey (CEO & Co-Founder, MELD)
I set up my first business when I was 8 years old. Greeting cards were my passion du jour – I made samples, printed out catalogues and pestered my friends and family to view my product line. As more orders came in, I gained confidence and decided to take the business on the road to local farmers markets, learning to use different and better tools each time to make better cards.
The business didn’t last, but I look back on this as my first taste of entrepreneurship, something I am passionate about today. As the greeting card obsession phased out, my young-adulthood passions set in. I was enamored with apparel and I did everything I could to further myself in this industry. With over 10 fashion-related internships with companies like Tommy Hilfiger and Nylon Magazine under my belt, I’ve started a company of my own.
After one semester at school, I saw my debt racking up and yet I still hadn’t experienced anything I didn’t experience during my own self-motivated studies. I decided to step back for a moment and assess the situation. Maybe I could do something crazy. Maybe I could fundraise, plan and create my own apparel business and experience the industry I coveted for so long.
I found private investors, wrote a proposal to my parents outlining my business plan and set to work on an apparel brand of my own. That was almost exactly a year ago and since then, the world has opened up so much for me.
In the past year, I’ve become a part of the Thiel Fellowship community, attending events with other young entrepreneurs, people who humble me with their accomplishments and go-get-‘em attitudes.
I’ve gotten involved with tech more than I thought a fashion girl like myself ever could and have pitched the concept for my new software startup in front of VCS in the big apple.
I’ve met CEOs and founders of companies I could only dream of creating and I intern at Enstitute, whose “learn by doing” model of education is gaining popularity by the moment.
Me, this 19-year old girl from San Diego is gaining the experience of a lifetime, all by deciding to forgo the experience that is a bit more cliché.
In conclusion, it all goes to say that the path of entrepreneurship is a crazy one. The people you meet along the way are inspiring, the experiences are eye-opening, but most of all, entrepreneurship tests your sense of self, something that I cherish immensely.
I have learned, especially as a young female in this industry, that it’s good to be bold, it’s important to be strong and most of all, it’s essential to do away with what others think and to head towards whatever it is that summons you without fear
Women 2.0 readers: What are your thoughts on the uncollege movement?
About the guest blogger: Madison Maxey is a co-founder and CEO of MELD. She is a passionate entrepreneur and uncollege student based in Brooklyn, New York. She believes strongly in alternative education models and supporting startups in all industries. She works at Enstitute in New York City. In addition to fashion and apparel, she loves graphic design, web development, foreign languages, and vegan food. She is always seeking new ways to get involved. Follow her on Twitter at @maddymaxey.