You know our work, but do you know how Mae Creative started? Get to know our founder, Madi Balman, a little bit better by walking through her graphic design career with us!
Madi Balman was always the ‘art kid’ in school. She would spend all of her spare time–or as much as she could get away with–in the art room working on her latest project. She once spent 20 hours on one project: an 18×24 mosaic portrait, made of colorful clippings from assorted magazines.
It came as no surprise to friends and family when, in 2016, she began her graphic design degree at Charleston Southern University.
Intent on further pursuing an artistic career, Madi began freelancing for acquaintances and small businesses around Charleston, SC while still in school. She built her portfolio as she learned, and began attending networking events as a student by 2017. Entering the new year in 2018, Madi went all-in on her graphic design career, founding Mae Creative.
Like any young adult, Madi made some mistakes in her college days. But she used those failures to push forward, and hard work became an escape from reality and life’s hardships. By the summer of 2018, Madi was interning for Charleston Southern’s Marketing Communications Department, gaining valuable insight into the real-life world of marketing. She continued to pursue internship opportunities from every source, including a gym and a designer. The most valuable internship opportunities came from Obviouslee Marketing in 2019 and Trident United Way in 2020. Her professional relationship with Trident United Way has continued over the past 4 years, and she plans to continue working with the organization into the future.
At the beginning of 2020, Madi took the steps to turn Mae Creative into an ‘official’ business. She found an exciting job opportunity that would allow her a steady income while continuing to build the Mae Creative brand. She was on track to graduate in 2020. All of her hard work was finally paying off.
Then COVID happened.
Nationwide shutdowns meant no in-person graduation ceremony and no design portfolio show to close out the years of hard work. Due to the upheaval that every industry now faced, the job that Madi had lined up fell through. Everything went remote, and jobs became scarce. Despite this less-than-ideal beginning to the next chapter of her professional life, Madi graduated in May of 2020 with a BA in Graphic Design and a minor in Business Administration, with emphasis in Marketing.
Like many throughout the nation, Madi continued looking for work through most of the year. In December of 2020, she began a position as a Search Engine Optimization Specialist with Creative Consulting, a local marketing and design firm. While working at Creative Consulting, Madi maintained her commitment to building Mae Creative and creating a solid community of designers.
While Madi remained focused on her career trajectory, she found love when she least expected it–in the middle of a pandemic. In August of 2021, Madi married the love of her life. Together they moved to Groton, CT in January of 2022. By February, Mae Creative became Madi’s sole career focus as she took on the simultaneous titles of CEO and Art Director.
Fully dedicated to her business, Madi found ‘her people’ in the business world when she joined her first networking group. She immersed herself in fostering her professional network, and was recognized as BNI SECT Rookie Networker of the Quarter in Q2 2022. The connections she made were a valuable resource in taking her business to the next level and by May of 2022, Mae Creative hired its first contractor, expanding to a business of two.
As Madi continued to grow her own business, she found passion in helping others grow theirs. In March of 2022, she became the Art Director for Carolina Spark Magazine and North Carolina Bridal Magazine. By the summer of the same year, she took on the dual title of Art Director and Assistant Marketing Director for the two magazines.
By October of 2022, Mae Creative had grown so quickly that Madi was able to host her business’ first internship. From there, the business has continued to grow, adding new team members and booking out upcoming months with exciting design projects.
In 2023, Mae Creative continues to grow, with features on FOX, ABC, and over 100 other business networks. The business was featured in Expertise’s Top 15 Web Design Companies in North Charleston, SC for 2023. With growing acclaim and a roster of high-profile clients, Madi Balman and Mae Creative are continuing to climb the ranks and earn a name for themselves in the competitive industry of brand design.
Want to work with Madi Balman and Mae Creative? Contact us to schedule a call!
Written by Rebekah McCubbins
Jun 26, 2023