With a desire to translate her love for design, travel and global culture into a business concept, Malene B launched a unique carpet and lifestyle brand. Her designs can be found in hotels, universities and homes around the world and today she’s sharing a bit about how she transformed her passion into a business. From her incredible home studio to her designs inspired by materials like cowrie beads, Malene is a constant source of inspiration for us. Thanks for sharing your career journey with us today, Malene! -Stephanie
photo by Alaric Campbell Photography
Read the full interview after the jump…
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I wanted an outlet to express my creativity to the fullest. And, the best way was by creating a business focused around my design aesthetic and desire to influence others through it.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
I knew my business would focus on my passion for design, travel and world culture. I’ve traveled to many countries and each trip inspired me to create.
I began selling my art through craft shows around the New York Tri-State area. At the shows, I would hear comments such as, “Oh that piece reminds me of my trip to Brazil!” and “My grandmother used to dress like that.” This is when I knew that my gift was to create designs that are happy-colorful-conversations…beautiful memories.
Hence, Malene B was born.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
The best advice is that you don’t have to be everything to everyone. You have to find your voice and carve out your own niche.
Learn to celebrate your difference and own it.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
The most difficult part was starting a business in a recession. My product is not a necessity, but a luxury. I launched when most people were trying to hold on to their homes…not trying to decorate them.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
I’ve learned that it’s ok to believe in myself and trust my instincts, regardless what others do, say or think.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
I’ve had many moments of things not working out, but each bore lessons to be learned.
To name a few…
Never add an extra wall at a tradeshow; design needs openness to breathe, and too many walls close in and stifle the experience.
Printing out 1,000 postcards to be used as direct mail and seeing half of the mailers returned.
Having a business partner that was not on the same page. It’s vital to take your time before joining forces with someone. They must bring something to the table that you don’t have.
Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
My first editorial. It was a full page in Interior Design Magazine and featured the carpets from my Signature collection. Other milestone moments are my work in Revel Hotel, The Baystone Boutique Hotel in Mauritius, Duke University and Saks Fifth Avenue. Also, appearing on The Nate Berkus Show and Morning Joe alongside Tory Burch, Arianna Huffington and Valerie Jarrett.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
I recommend the following:
1. The 4- Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
2. Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie
3. The Soul of a Business by Tom Chappell
4. Facebook Marketing by Amy Porterfield
5. Tory Burch Foundation: Their mission is to help early-stage, women business owners through mentorship, finance and education.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. Create a business around the lifestyle that you want to live.
2. Be prepared for a roller coaster ride.
3. Buy property before you start your business, because it becomes very challenging to get a mortgage while starting a business.