Art, Business, and Obstacles as a Young Woman: Interview with a Local Artist & Student

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Madison Cano has a lot of overlooked ambition as a 21-year-old double majoring in Art and Marketing. When I first met Madi, my first impression of her was “firecracker”. We met during a fast-paced round of Greek life recruitment. There’s only so much that can be exchanged with such little time to converse, and yet I felt like I learned not only about her passions and accomplishments, but I also got a preview into her tenacious personality. Little did I know that we would end up being roommates and close friends.

Being Madi’s roommate means constantly being around an inspired go-getter. Throughout all of our experiences together, I have seen her pursue plenty of business ventures. She is currently a glassblowing artist that sells her pieces through Etsy, local boutiques, and social media. Previously, she was Head of Design, Head of Customer Service and was a Co-Owner of a local food truck, as well as a manager and designer for Fortune Orange.

Some ventures are more successful than others, but that’s due to the obstacle she faces as a young female entrepreneur. When I asked her about some of the challenges she’s faced, she responded that people don’t take her seriously or disbelieve her when she lists her skillsets and accomplishments. Madi is no longer a co-owner of the food truck since she felt discriminated against even though she was just as equal of an investor and team member as the other workers.

“I was the only girl who worked there, and it was honest to God frustrating to get problems resolved since they didn’t see me as an equal…eventually, I had to leave that toxic environment and call it a bust”. Her time and dedication went undervalued due to the lack of inclusivity the food truck offered.

Not only does she work in and love the food business; she also creates other forms of art, specifically, glass art. She works with thousand degree temperatures, heavy complex tools, and her own body strength. “I feel like a lot of the well-known glassblowers are men. That shit’s hot. That shit’s heavy… glass is definitely a male-dominated art since its physical” she said as she flexed her built bicep. I asked her if she has had to face the same kind of sexist discrimination in her creative studio. “It makes me happy that the studio I work at is all-female staff because it gives me a sense of community. We break down gender stereotypes with our art…I’ve learned from some very empowering and inspirational women [along the way]”.

Madi approached a free-spirited boutique about having them sell art pieces and they told her that they want to place an emphasis on pieces that could be considered “feminist”. With this in mind, she decided to create boob earring pendants out of glass. While she acknowledges that boobs don’t necessarily make a person a woman or feminist, she did want to support the “Free the Nipple” campaign since it is still a prevalent issue in media. For those that don’t know, it’s the movement that draws attention to the fact that U.S. media typically sexualizes the female nipple and therefore marks it as explicit content even though the male nipple does not get the same kind of censorship. This movement also supports women who prefer to breastfeed publically. She offers a few different shapes, colors, and sizes, but is willing to fulfill custom orders, “Art is about trial and error. I like to work one on one with customers to fuse ideas and create something that we can all be proud of”.

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We then got to talking about femininity and her views and securities on the subject. She claims that femininity is a spectrum and that while she supports wherever other people lie on this spectrum, she is more conservative in some aspects compared to others. When talking about how she prefers to dress, she said, “[For me,] there’s a line between ‘fuck everyone and do what I want’ and ‘I don’t want to be stared at”. The other day, she wore a sunflower patterned cropped sweater and felt like she was getting more attention from men than usual, especially in the form of being stared at. While she doesn’t know the reason that other people stared, she can’t help but feel like it has something to do with her showing a little bit of skin. When asked how she would respond to those people who made her uncomfortable she exclaimed with a sigh, “just be respectful”. In this political climate, one of the best things a person could be is mindful. While Madi creates art that supports the “Free the Nipple” movement, she said she doesn’t always feel secure in being able to follow through with that message herself. “Yeah I don’t go out in public with a bra all the time, but sometimes I can’t even be bothered by the anticipated judgments of other people, so I do wear a bra on those days”. This reminded me of how she stated that femininity is a spectrum. You don’t have to be 100% all the time, you can base your actions off of your level of comfort in that present moment – it doesn’t make you any less of a feminist. I asked her to offer advice to minority members who are trying to pursue their passions. With the biggest smile and a deep breath, she responded “just fucking do it.” If someone tells you that you can’t do it- prove them wrong”. Even though Madi is very free-spirited, she could see herself owning a restaurant or being a professional glass-blower someday.

On a final note, I encourage all of you readers to go out and support those who are giving a voice to the issues you believe in. Support local artists that creates boob jewelry among other things if that’s what you feel strongly about. Stand up for your friend who “just don’t feel like wearing a bra” today. Speak out for your only female co-worker when you see the unjust behavior. Above all, find something you’re “fire-cracker”-passionate about and never give up pursuing it.

Check out Madi’s Etsy Shop and Instagram page!

-Rachel Franks

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