• No Products in the Cart

My Intimate Story: Preventing Burnout + Self Employment


The year hasn’t ended, but it has already taught me a big lesson.

It’s been my most exciting year. In April, Urban Outfitters released an exclusive Madalynne intimates collection, and in August, Simplicity will release two Madalynne lingerie patterns. A month after, in September, UO will release a second Madalynne collection. To top it off, I’ve been featured on Vogue.com, Philly Mag, Philly Weddings, Mingle Magazine, and will host 8 bra making workshops. Not trying to toot my own horn. Just stating facts.

I don’t mention it much, but in addition to Madalynne, I have a full time job. I work for URBN, which encompasses the brands Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Free People, Terrain and BHLDN. I handle internal communications/PR, and am their resident photography, in-house graphic designer and internal blogger. Sound like a lot? It is.

I’ve always been about living a true, authentic life that is full of passion. When my mom died, I was just a teenager, and it was then that I decided to only surround myself with the things, the people and the places that matter the most. Remove everything and everyone that is toxic. I feel incredibly lucky to have been given these opportunities, however, in May, as I was attending press events in NYC and jetting off to London, I was depressed. Super depressed. To make it worse, I felt guilty for feeling the way I did.“How could I have so many good things going on, yet feel so low?” Simple – it was too much.

It was at this point that I realized I needed to make a change. I needed to redefine what success meant to me, and this new definition had to come from within. Nobody else. I was brought up in a household that was very conscious about money. That’s not a bad thing, but it gave me a skewed perception that success is dependent on how much money you have in the bank. Happiness? Who cares if you make 100k+ a year.

I’m in the process of making that change. After 6 1/2 years of working for URBN, I’ve put my big girl panties on and taken the first step towards self-employment. This August, I’ll be transitioning to a part time position at Anthropologie’s Rittenhouse store as a personal stylist so that I can focus on Madalynne full time. Sound like a fun job? Well, I hope it is and I hope it will give me more time to devote to my business. Above all, I hope it will give me more time to live the life I want.

At the end of this year, I won’t measure my success on how much I made. My salary will not be tied to my self worth. Instead, I will ask myself these questions: How many students did I teach? What new skills did I learn? What trips did I take? Did I spend time with the people I love? You come into this world with nothing and you leave with nothing. Making some arbitrary amount is useless if it doesn’t allow you to live the life you want.

I’ll end with – I’m happy again. Finally! I’m proud, excited and nervous for what the future will bring, but I’d rather say “I tried” than “I was too scared.”

Cheers to LOTS more lingerie!


  1. Reply

    Yvonne Madden

    Nice post with good thoughts we should all keep in mind. Thank you. Sending you good wishes.

    • Reply


      fabulous! that’s an incredible, brave, and wonderfully empowering choice — I wish you the best of luck! just always remember to try and keep that center.

  2. Reply

    Denise Smith

    wow Maddie – you’re amazing. Well done for making that choice, and best wishes. You are an inspiration!

  3. Reply


    Thank you. Means a lot to have the support of my readers 🙂

  4. Reply


    “Some money costs too much”… quote by … me. Well done to not have “golden handcuffs” any longer. Good luck in your new endeavour.

    • Reply


      I LOVE that. No, I won’t be chained up anymore.

  5. Reply


    hey, I feel happy for your decision. sometimes I feel stuck with my job too because my head is full of ideas for blogging and running my business but to juggle these two with a full time job is kinda difficult for me (I’m amazed that you have so many things to do yet still maintain this blog very good). what makes me stuck is because I’m still expecting real income from my full time job. but I’m trying my best. as long as I make progress, I should not be worried. I believe my time will come soon. good luck, M! 🙂

    xoxo, Cikita

  6. Reply


    Amen to that!! Life is too short to live it as others expect you to. Do what you like and want with passion and honesty you will be living a plentiful life!

    • Reply


      Agree 100%

  7. Reply

    Gaye S Bengochea

    Love you Maddie!! You have a lot on your plate!! But all is good. Hang i there!!

    • Reply


      I’m hanging better than I every have been!

  8. Reply


    Thanks for sharing. This is great perspective.

  9. Reply


    Sounds like you’re headed in the right direction. You’ve got to do what you love, so it won’t always feel like work. This is a very inspiring post! I made the same decision myself, 25+ years ago – walked away from a retail buying job to start my custom sewing business and be with my family full time. The money was a worry, and my income never rose to the same level – it’s only this year that I’m seeing a dramatic increase in what my business is bringing in – but everyone in my life was happier because of my decision. Especially me. I wish you all the best!

    • Reply


      The pursuit of happiness.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Knowing that there are many who have done the same, taken the leap, helps tremendously.

  10. Reply


    You are such an inspiration! I am lucky to have found you and work with you as part of the Spiegel team, but am also super inspired on a personal level by all of your success and accomplishment. Cheers to always improving <3

    • Reply


      Girl, who you kidding?!? You’re an inspiration as well. Your snaps are motivation for me to get my butt out of bed and to the gym. Because I know that in a couple hours, you’ll be snapping at the gym on your lunch break

  11. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    Make sure you get a hobby that is not related to your business (i.e not sewing or lingerie) so you can be around people that have nothing to do with your industry.

    My advice is to not to have too many other business have fingers in your pie and not to have your fingers in too many pies. Otherwise you won’t be self employed but an employee having to pay your own salary.


    • Reply


      Thanks for the tips!

  12. Reply


    Good for you!
    Wishing you peace and blessings.

  13. Reply


    Maddie, you always seem to post some of the same things I’ve been thinking… I’m happy that you are heading on a new path that will hopefully bring you a greater sense of joy and accomplishment. Most of the most successful people have often been quoted as saying it’s best to do what you love and love what you do, so cheers to you on this journey.

    • Reply


      I agree and will add that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

  14. Reply

    where food is, i am

    This is amazing, Maddie. I’m so happy for you! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear/read about all the amazing, inspiring things that come out of the decision.

    • Reply


      And I can’t wait until I offer international shipping so that you can have a Madalynne bra on the other side of the world. Represent!

  15. Reply

    Chris Griffin

    I love your style and wish I fit into your clothing line.
    I cannot wait to see what you can do when you’re even Happier than you are now 🙂

  16. Reply

    Jessica McGuinn

    You go girl! Love you and am so incredibly proud.


  17. Reply

    Lil mita

    Very proud of you. Hope to take bra course this fall

    • Reply


      It’s filling up! Better sign up quick 🙂

  18. Reply

    Emily W.

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. Congratulations!! I can’t wait to see what’s next for you 🙂

  19. Reply

    Jyll Cradock

    Very best of luck it is scarey but we only get one chance at living so be happy in what you are doing.hope you get back to England would love to take part in one of your workshops .

    • Reply


      I read a really good quote today that hit home:

      “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
      -Anais Nin

  20. Reply

    Janet Allen Vandermeulen

    “Good stress” is still…stress. Too much to do can be as debilitating as not enough. Having so many successful endeavors happening at once can make you feel worse about feeling exhausted. Best of luck on your new direction, and finding the balance you need and deserve!

  21. Reply

    Carolyn Norman

    Congratulations! Life changes are scary but so worth it in the end. I’m sure these new changes will be challenging but so fulfilling. Congrats again!

    • Reply


      Thank you Carolyn. You have always been an inspiration to me. Marce once referred to you the sewing community mom. Don’t take that in a bad way! She meant that you’re always caring, friendly and giving. I couldn’t agree more.

      • Reply


        Maddie – I actually think that’s a wonderful compliment and it sounds like something Marce would say! So thank you and I’m glad that I’ve inspired you. However, you young lady has taken an idea and made it a reality. So proud of you!

  22. Reply


    Madalynne, I’ve followed your blog for a long time but never commented. This post is so honest and you are such a strong person taking on so much!. You have achieved so much and I hope you are very proud of yourself. You have my support as reader and fellow sewer and I wish you ever success in your future plans.

    • Reply


      You are so sweet! Thank you! It’s hard to be honest/raw/open on my blog. When I was at my lowest, a fellow blogger shared her experience, and it really helped me. I hope I can help other with this post.

  23. Reply


    Congrats, excited for you! xx

  24. Reply


    Thank you for sharing. Seeing people who train and work hard at their craft gain success is very inspiring. The fact that you share your knowledge and skills with others is also wonderful. Keep doing what you do! I am excited to get my hands on those patterns in August.

    • Reply


      I can’t wait to see what everyone makes!

  25. Reply


    Wishing you all the very best as you begin a new chapter. You are so talented and a great inspiration to other artists and makers who are facing the same dilemma.

    I love reading your blog and look forward to hearing all about your journey as a full-time maker and business woman xx

  26. Reply


    Congrats!! A big step that will open up doors for new things! You can do it!

  27. Reply


    Wow I am really obsessed with your blog in more ways than one. I worked in the fashion industry for 10 years, but recently moved out to San Francisco and am trying out being self-employed myself. I really admire how you have built your business, and the fact that you were working full time while building it is a testament to your work ethic. Now that you know how hard you CAN and DID work, its time to reward yourself by fully immersing yourself into what you love, regardless of salary. I can tell you there will be hard days where you just start scrolling through craigslist trying to find any little extra thing for money (I did that yesterday) but then something amazing will happen and you will thank your lucky stars that you are ready for it!

    Congrats- can’t wait to see more!


    • Reply


      Aw! Thanks Stefanie! Knowing that I’m not alone in my journey is refreshing and comforting. Keep in touch. I mean it 😉

  28. Reply


    Such an honest and genuine post Maddie which I’m sure will resonate with many people, it certainly did with me (from a different time, not right now). The thing with depression is the people who often experience it are the over-achievers and people with their plate very full. A plate which seems to other to be amazing and certainly not something to be unhappy about. I learnt all this the hard way and went through a similar adjustment; taking steps to really live and enjoy my life, choosing a job which isn’t about money, and spending my time and money on what *I* wanted, not what others thought I should spend it on. Anyway, I’m jabbering on! Great post and thank you for sharing. 🙂

    • Reply


      Thank you! Like I wrote in my other replies, knowing that other people have gone through it will make the transition easier. I’ve already had several moments of second guessing myself.

  29. Reply


    Money matters…but happiness is most important . Your decision is good but be careful and good luck 🙂

  30. Reply

    Stephanie Arrue

    You couldn’t have said any of it better.
    I recently left my role as a Design Director with a company I truly adored because something just didn’t feel right anymore. The role went way beyond what was intended and into other departments. I enjoyed all of it but it got to be just too much.
    When I read this post, your reasoning made complete sense to me.
    I hope that this change will only escalate your happiness.

Leave a Reply