9-5, 5-9: Melanie White, Founder & CEO of MELANIE MARIE
Words: Lakin Starling
Images: Andrew Kung
Images: Andrew Kung
For those who love the grind, there’s no such thing as a day job or night shift. Between juggling motherhood, running a marketing consultancy and managing a jewelry company, Melanie White is always on.
Every morning begins around 6:30 a.m., before the business meetings, calls and household errands begin, Melanie can count on her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter AnnDrew to enter the bedroom with a wake-up greeting. From that point on, she has a little less than two hours to get AnnDrew dressed, go over flash cards, read a book and prepare breakfast because, according to Melanie, “A sister’s gotta eat.”
At 31, the ambitious go-getter is the CEO of MELANIE MARiE Jewelry, which specializes in custom gold pieces. She also launched a mommy and me adjacent brand called AnnDrew Marie, created for and named after her adorable daughter. Melanie also runs a business consulting network that, like her other enterprises, comes along with various tasks involving social media branding and six streams of passive income that Melanie has to strategize and manage daily. All of these endeavors fall under the umbrella of her MELANIE MARiE brand. “Any day, regardless of what’s going on, it’s back-to-back busy,” she explains.
In 2010, six years before motherhood, Melanie tapped into her multi-tasking skills when she started to feel stifled in her job as a registered nurse. Her family was big on the idea of a stable career for guaranteed health benefits, but the 12-hour shifts, rigorous physical work and ever-changing schedule was too structured for Melanie. “It's like a cycle. You do the same thing every day. That's their generation, not ours,” she says.
While working her 9 to 5, Melanie broke the mold and conceived the idea to open up a Greek life clothing boutique in Philadelphia with her boyfriend at the time. The success of the small business seemed promising and after one year Melanie quit her job and moved to Philly to launch the full-on shop. After two years, however, the store and the relationship ran into some obstacles when business started to decline due to it being undercapitalized. Melanie was left with the financial burden of paying off a hefty remainder of bills and loans. “Everything was on me and it got really bad. I had to pay all this stuff off and get jobs in-between jobs,” she remembers. “I was trying to pull myself back up, and I did it.”
Luckily, Melanie had learned not to put all her bets on one endeavor. When she started to build MELANIE MARiE, while also running the shop, it began to flourish. She worked diligently to create a range of pieces and placed some of her designs on celebrities who would then post Melanie’s work on Instagram. With each surmounting exposure, she gained up to 5000 followers, allowing her to showcase her new items to a growing audience and clientele. Now, with a daughter to raise and provide a legacy for, failure is not an option. Melanie’s personal Instagram account has over 103K followers, who get everything from entrepreneurial inspiration, fashion looks, valuable parenting tips and precious photos of AnnDrew.
Melanie juggles being a CEO and motherhood with style and grace. For the determined mogul, though, this balance is not all about likes and aesthetic. Instead, it’s her reality of redefining the ideas and limitations that society places on women. Melanie makes it clear that she’s never had a nannie and for the first year of AnnDrew’s life, the baby was home with her every day while she kicked off her passion projects and master plans. Her partner and daughter’s father, Andrew, is also an entrepreneur so the pair work hard as a unit to make sure there are no overlaps in scheduling when it comes to parenting. “I know I'm killing it and I have the confidence in saying it. I'm a mom, but I still maintain myself. I’m not just doing it for the ‘gram,” Melanie says, laughing. “I've got my business and I'm a mom.”
Melanie reveals that she’s been able to accomplish more of her goals after having her daughter and that being a mother has opened doors for both her family. “Once I had a baby, I'm in the ‘mom world’ now,” Melanie shares. After posting photos of the baby, she received an influx of questions from other moms on social media and used her experiences to share what she learned with the community she’s built. On Melanie’s blog she shares fun and informational bits on subjects like AnnDrew’s hairstyles, the truths about breastfeeding, childbirth and even included a purchasable e-guide on how to get your kid into modeling. When AnnDrew was just three months old Melanie booked her some gigs in front of the camera, allowing her daughter to save funds for the future.
Intertwining her real life with profitable endeavors is a clever way to not only build genuine engagement across platforms but also a way to make connections while expanding her brand. Behind the scenes, she’s extremely hands-on and strategic about the moving parts of her growing empire. Without having gone to school for anything business-related, Melanie has acquired a ton of invaluable skills from researching how to do it herself. “I look up everything. I self teach myself a lot. Something as little as how to insert hyperlinks in your emails or code a website or make a YouTube vlog. I'd look it up or teach myself before asking someone,” she says. Her do-it-yourself mentality gave her the confidence to launch an online business coaching and consulting group where members can learn skills from industry experts. She's discovered that you don't need to be an expert, you just need to know what they know.
With the uncertainty of social media’s lifespan in mind, Melanie keeps an extremely organized list of contacts, appointments and ideas that don’t rely on the internet. Her latest endeavor is her MELANIE MARiE app that she launched in April. It’s a chic and coherent service that features sections like a kid’s corner with flashcards and educational YouTube videos, similar to what her daughter likes. There are sections dedicated to kid hairstyle tutorials, mom and baby meal recipes and business guides. While she’s seen as a public figure, she keeps all of her grand ideas to herself as they develop. This way, Melanie remains self-reliant and is always in the position to be the one to get the job done. For the modern woman, "mother" isn't a definition but rather another function of a grind that doesn't stop.