We had the good fortune of connecting with Mandy Madden Kelley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mandy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I am probably rather extreme about this. But, I am the kind of person that when I see something I want or believe is right, I go after it with everything I’ve got. I moved from New Zealand to Los Angeles after meeting my architect husband in Baggage claim. I knew it was the right thing to do. When I decided to start mandymadd.com, everyone told me how hard it was and that I was too late in the game. But, I hunkered down, learned everything I could about social media, photography, graphics, etc. and worked on it every day. Consistency and conviction are my secret ingredients. My results in the beginning were laughable, if not disillusioning, but I stayed after it every day and now I have a following of over 100k+ followers. When I decided to start my luxury fashion company, Pagerie, I listened to all of the advice people gave me such as: going with lower prices, fast fashion, a sale approach, easy manufacturing — and I did just the opposite. I aimed straight for the top; Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton. I didn’t find the easiest or most affordable or the fastest manufacturers. Instead I scoured the globe in Asia and Europe and beyond, looking for the best artisans and craftmanship out there. When it came to building the website, social media campaigns, advertising and video, the advice from others was the same — fast, cheap and quick. What did I do? The opposite. I didn’t have the luxury of investors or using anyone else’s money but my own. I had made some money from mandymadd.com but I didn’t just bet some of that on Pagerie. I bet all of it and more. I worked double time to keep investing what I had into Pagerie. Were there moments of doubt and fear? Of course, many. But throughout my whole life, I’ve believed that if you go after the things you want with everything you’ve got, you’ll get there, as long as you don’t give up in the middle of it all. You have to push through those lulls and keep reminding yourself of your dreams.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Pets are a reflection of who we are. And I believe our dogs should be as stylish as we try to be in our own lives. When I looked for something classic and elegant for my dog to wear to a fashion event, I couldn’t find anything appropriate for the affair — hence, I decided to create Pagerie. I will admit that I have ridiculously high standards for design, materials, hardware, and, yes, even packaging. Therefore, taking on this endeavour was not a quick or easy assignment for me. My team and I came up with hundreds of different concepts and prototypes before we landed on the ones that make up our first collection — The Sahara. I scoured the globe looking for the perfect leather, hardware, stitching, craftsmanship, and responsible manufacturing processes. I tested the products on countless dog models until we got just the right look, fit, and attitude. The inspiration, design and details of Pagerie products come from worshiping the beauty, form and shape of dogs. Although I didn’t grow up in an environment where I had opportunities or access to great designers — like Mies van der Roche, Dieter Rams, Hands Wegner. But, over time I started putting together the clues of all the things I liked. I didn’t even know there were schools of thought like The Bahaus, Minimalism and Modernism. As I got older, I began to study art and design on my own and a little more depth. I realized that many artists and designers get a lot of their inspiration from nature, the human body, or the ‘machine’. But where my greatest inspiration came from was, oddly enough, pets. I was determined to create the perfect marriage of form, function, style, and fit.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There’s so many great recommendations on Shoutout already that I don’t just want to offer the same things. However, everyone knows that if they’re coming to visit me for a week they’re going to get “The-Mandy-Tour” of LA. We wake up early in the morning and we’re either going for a hike at Runyon Canyon or a serene yoga session at the Alo Yoga Studio, located at The Grove. If we’re at The Grove, we’re going to take a quick stroll through the colorful and sensual Farmer’s Market for a coffee and perhaps some fresh made bread at the French store. Despite what people think about LA, we’re not as car-dependent as it looks. From the Farmer’s Market, we’ll take a walk down to the Fairfax District to see all the incredible streetwear stores. You want to check out places like Canter’s Deli and Jon&Vinny’s. From there, we will go down to Melrose Avenue, to see a variety of unique retail shops such as the Adidas Store, Reformation, Agent Provocateur and Fred Segall’s. Ultimately, you’ll land in the quaint little side street called, Melrose Place. It is here where you will find the gold mine of hidden gem shops, such as Violet Grey, The Row, Chloé, Alfred’s Tea, Frame, APC, Isabel Marant and so many others. By lunch time, we will end up at the-always-crowded Urth café, right across the street from yet another cache such as The Real Real, Rag&Bone and others. During the evening, we’re either going to have dinner at the plant-based, Mexican cuisine, Gracias Madre or Meals by Genet, in the Ethiopian District on Fairfax. But, my absolute favorite is the minimalist, mediterranean fare, Kismet, which is a good twenty-minute-car-ride. Lastly, if you really want to top off the evening on a bright and happy note, you must go see a show at the famous comedy university, The Groundlings on Melrose Ave or the legendary comedy club at The Hollywood Improv.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to take a moment and dedicate this shoutout to my husband, Kevin, who is not only my soulmate, but also my mentor and my biggest fan. I never truly felt what it’s like to have someone believe in you 110% until I met him. No matter how hard my days were, he always encouraged me and inspired me to push through. He was my biggest support system through this journey and he helped me reach the impossible. Aside from being the best husband, dad and mentor, he is also a very talented architect, specialising in retail, branding, design and science. His business, Shook Kelley, is very unique and unlike any other firm out there in the industry. Kevin is a true thinker and visionary. He is my hero!