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Women at Work: Audrey Stimpson & Christine Buzan, Co-Founders of Madison and Melrose

Women at Work: Audrey Stimpson & Christine Buzan, Co-Founders of Madison and Melrose

Ever wonder what it’s like to walk a day in someone else’s shoes (or spend a day in someone else’s job, as the case may be)? Us too! In our “Women at work” series, we’re talking to some of the most accomplished women we know about how they got to where they are in their careers, what advice they’d give their younger selves, and any tips & tricks they’ve picked up along the way.

Name: Audrey Stimpson + Christine Buzan
Job Titles: Co-founders and CEOs of Madison and Melrose LLC
Age: 30 + 28
College major: BFA Photography; MPS Fashion Photo, + English Literature

What does a typical day look like for you?
(for M+M)
Our day at Madison and Melrose is never typical!  There’s no set road map for how things should (and shouldn’t) be done, so our business requires a lot of flexibility.

Since we offer A-Z content and digital marketing solutions, each day brings something new that requires shifting modes and wearing different hats.  We could be storyboarding, producing client shoots, on set shooting, mind-mapping, at on-site client meetings, on a conference call with clients all over the world, working with our silent partner that manages TV production, building client websites, graphics, photography, photo retouching, videos, as well as crafting  clients’ monthly social plans.

Also, being a small business, everything from the accounting, to the legal paperwork, to the account management is our responsibility alone—there isn’t “another department” that handles it.  However, given the flexibility of our setup, we could also be found doing group face masks, taking shots of each other for our instagram accounts, and of course, taking the occasional nap (separately of course, lol!)

We are constantly creating, researching what’s next, and always learning. We try to fill our free time with things that are beneficial to both our company and personal growth such as industry events, charity galas, and conferences.  Sure, it’s a challenge at times, but positive changes don’t come easily– they require growth. A big part of this is an open line of communication and a mutual respect for each other’s capabilities and craft.

What role has your gender or racial identity played in your career to date?
We started our own company after the year of the last election. The timing is significant.
Instead of being discouraged, we chose to feel empowered and womaned up!

We found a way to create a company that is inclusive; a company of equal opportunity and pay not just for women, but for all races, for all ages, for all genders. We as women created our own place. That place gives us power. Madison and Melrose is not just a company; it is a belief that lives on. A belief in more and equality for all.

How do you define success and how do you measure it?
Success is giving others permission to see themselves and their brand in the best light possible.

Success is that text from a client saying, “I am loving the way my instagram looks, and I am surprised and grateful to God for all the positive feedback I’ve been getting. And thank you for running my social media, so I don’t have to. LOL.”

Success is an email from a young follower that says, ”Thank you for always showing me some love on here. I hope you know that you are one of the many women I look up to when trying discover who I am in life and I just felt like you should know that.”

Success is a DM from someone halfway across the world acknowledging you’ve made a positive impact on their day,  “I’ve been watching your stories and liking your photos and I’m really impressed with the both of you and a bit disappointed you live an ocean away, because if you lived in London, I’d insist on becoming IRL friends. The strength of character you have: being in control of who you are, how you present yourself to the world, and not giving any fucks —massive respect.”

Success is in giving others a voice, a platform, and an ability to succeed. Everyone has a story and we help them create and mold theirs. We love helping others define and fine tune what their own story is.

Can you share the best professional advice that someone has given you along the way?
Know what you don’t know, and know when to ask for help.

What advice would you give your 25-year old self about navigating your own career?

Your dream job probably doesn’t even exist yet, so work on finding your purpose– your why.

Listen and be present.

Be where your audience is. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

If you don’t do it, someone else will.

Good leaders serve.

Never stop experimenting.

Who has inspired you in your life and why?
We both agree that we’ve individually inspired each other to take such a leap of faith and start this business. After all, Starting a business is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.  Especially when you’re doing it with your best friend.  We are extremely fortunate in the sense that our skill sets are complementary, yet non competing.  We have the same goals and vision, but different talents and expertise. Of course, it can be risky starting a business with your best friend.  But who else would you actually want to spend 18 hour days with?   

We both extremely fortunate that we have so many people that we look up to and that have gotten us to where we are. Our family is our biggest support system other than each other.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The reward is not the final product, but rather the moments and interactions in between. It’s the small wins. Helping a client tell their story from beginning to end. Making a difference in others lives.

Rapid Round:
Someone might be surprised to learn:
Audrey: I married and divorced when I was very young.
Christine: I have struggled with anxiety and depression for the past 18 years. I am very open about my advocacy for mental health and blog about it often!

Favorite book you’ve read in the last year:
Audrey: “Contagious” by Jonah Berger
Christine: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson

Favorite quote:
Audrey: I’ve collected quotes in journals since I was a teenager so this is difficult one for me.  “Normal is a setting on a washing machine.” -My Mom
Christine: “You can, and you will.” – My Mom

Favorite health hack:
Audrey: Meditation, mantras, and manifestation
Christine: Taking a long walk to de-stress.

Favorite life hack:
Audrey: Rent the Runway (monthly unlimited)
Christine: Magic erasers. They get rid of almost every problem.