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Debbie left, Jackie right

I am a big fan of partnerships. I genuinely believe that women need to band together and really support one another, finding meaningful and productive collaborations that in the end help everyone succeed.

When it comes to business, specially fashion business, it’s refreshing to find a team that is making it happen. I talked to Madison & Laurel founders, Debbie Weiss and Jackie Bates as they celebrated their 1 year anniversary.

BELLA: Describe the concept behind Madison and Laurel. How did it start?

We were both working for the same company, Jackie in LA as Director of Trend and Product Development and Debbie in NY as Head of Sales.  As our working relationship grew into a friendship, we started fantasizing about one day starting our own business together.  We recognized that our different skill sets really complimented each other and that we shared the same vision for our futures, both professionally and personally & quickly realized it would be just a matter of time.  The deciding factor was that we had 2 very strong relationships with manufacturers who had expressed great interest in growing their businesses with us should we go out on our own.  So after about a year of planning, we signed the lease on a showroom in the Garment District in NY and here we are today…celebrating our 1 year anniversary.

BELLA: Partnerships. There a lot of pros and cons about them. What makes yours work?

M&L: Laughter and respect are the glue of our company.  But another key factor is that our working relationship came before our friendship.  A lot of times friends start companies together who have never actually worked with each other before and the way someone acts in a work environment vs the way they act personally, can be shockingly different.  Our familiarity and comfort level as far as our respective work ethic and strengths was solid from the start, friendship was the icing on the cake.

BELLA: What are you passionate about?

M&L: Our passions as individuals and as a company have a common thread which is an emphasis on quality of life and quality of work.  Our creativity is at it’s best when we are genuinely happy both in life and work and feeding off each other’s positive energy .  As a result, our relationships with our buyers get stronger, our understanding of their respective customers remains clear, and the concepts we bring to the table feel organic and fresh.  We also share a passion for music which can help get us through anything!

BELLA: Where do you draw inspiration from?

M&L: Family.  We both hit the lottery in this department and our families are our #1 source of inspiration and drive.  Just another thing we have in common that helps us understand each other and contributes to our bond as partners

BELLA: Looking back on your journey, what piece of advice would you give your younger self today?

M&L: Trust your instincts, stay focused and don’t be scared to take risks!

BELLA: Where do you see yourselves/your brand in 5 years?

Longstanding partnerships is something we want to be known for.  While many showrooms look to add to their roster as they grow, we hope to grow our current vendors and increase the volume we bring them by at least double.  Also, we hope to develop some of our own projects as Madison & Laurel the brand – designing a jewelry line is top on our list!

BELLA: Define Beauty.

M&L: Though we both have a different approach to it, at the end of the day we’d agree it’s about being comfortable & confident in your own skin.  We both might love the same statement necklace but while Jackie would pair hers with high heels and a vintage maxi dress, Debbie would layer over a graphic tee with ripped skinny jeans.  It’s about paying attention to the trends without being a slave to them.

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