Biz Ladies Profile: Malene Barnett of Malene B Carpets

Biz Ladies Profile, Malene B
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…

Biz Ladies Profile, Malene B

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.

Biz Ladies Profile, Malene B

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.

Biz Ladies Profile, Malene B

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.

Jenn Coyle

The 4 hour workweek is next on my list. It’s already on my Kindle. Great advice Malene! My business is already up and running but I’m always looking for ways to improve and boost my business.

Kemi

LOVE! Melanie B. She is a talent and very open to giving advice and her point of view not to mention her fantastic design point of view. Thanks for featuring her.

Darnita

I am grateful for you sharing your journey with us, Malene. I am listening to the messages and I know that I need to apply them to my lifestyle and business.

kelly jo

THANK YOU for profiling a successful, powerful designer and maker who is not a white woman!

Grace Bonney

Kelly

Diversity of all kinds is incredibly important to me. I will always do my best to make sure DS profiles makers that represent the full depth and breadth of the creative community.

Grace

Brenda

So happy to see you profile someone of color!!! I would love to see more diversity in DS

charlotte | the vintage vogue

“Buy property before you start your business, because it becomes very challenging to get a mortgage while starting a business” – never heard anyone mention this before and it makes tremendous sense to me. So many practical tips here. I too love seeing a black woman featured. Being one myself it seems like the landscape is a bit scant on those of us moving in the entrepreneurial world. So awesome to hear the story and the face behind the brand. Thank you Grace

Tempest

Grace – Thank you for featuring Marlene. You never fail to bring in diversity.
Marlene – Thank you for enduring the struggle that has allowed you to be where you are today.You are an inspiration to women of color. One day I will be able to get one of your rugs, so please keep creating them. I love them and have you on my wish list for that one great splurge.

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