Sometimes contentment can highlight the need for change.
Sometimes it takes a major hurdle (like cancer) before we can say “The time is right”. “The time is now. Let’s embrace this thing.”
After more than 3 years of research, planning & exploration ……. established, graphic designers and Sydney based couple Luisa Franco & John Valastro have finally launched their first print based range of fashion and homewares called Madge Goods.
Offering a clean, bold, fun & modern print aesthetic combined with simple garment shapes that are easy to wear Luisa says,
“Our core customer is an independent thinker, not persuaded by celebrity or trend – a strong celebrated woman.”
Perhaps not too much unlike Luisa herself who overcame cancer after their third daughter Magenta was born … a pinnacle period in their lives as it was also the birth of the brand name “Madge” after Magenta. Later Luisa gave up full time work & sent herself off to school again … retraining in Fabric Design & Printing while also sending their 3 daughters to school everyday! Then came the couple’s decision to sell their home in order to realize the brand … also a huge investment. Yet again, the couples belief in Madge backed up by their research, planning & positive market feedback saw the launch of the brand & its very own boutique in Newtown just 4 weeks ago.
To me Madge Goods is more than just a brand that produces cool new fashion & homewares, it has a soul that embodies vision, hard-work, passion, sheer guts and self confidence …. and strength that comes directly from Luisa & John themselves.
Madge Goods is pure in design, bold in look and so, so brave in approach.
I hope you’ll find my interview with Luisa & John not only insightful but also very inspiring …
1. What gets you up in the morning?
To see where this is new journey is going. To create & think about new ideas and make lunch for 3 kids!
I agree, throwing ourselves into Madge Goods, going on the constant creative journey it demands while building and maintaining a home for our 3 daughters is what gets us up in the morning. It’s exciting, interesting and keeps us alert and always thinking and trying to get better at it.
2. How did you come to create Madge Goods?
When my love of art, design, clothing and fabrics collided…
Straight out of high school I studied Fine Arts majoring in painting, then straight onto studying Graphic Design working in the motion design industry for 18 years whilst starting and growing a family. During the pregnancy of our 3rd daughter Magenta, I was diagnosed with cancer, this gave me the kick to have the courage to follow my heart and passion so I headed back to study Textile Design and Printing. Finally my passions of art, design and fabric merged and created Madge Goods…
Thinking about how we could use our skills as graphic designers to create a great product is how both Luisa and I came together to start creating what became Madge Goods. I was excited about the idea of it because I knew it would be the ideal opportunity for us to combine all of our creative skills, passion and energy to create something worthwhile, fun and unique.
3. What inspires you the most & why?
Anything my eyes can feast upon from art to architecture to motion design to nature… it all makes me happy to see and feel what I see. I love the language of the hand, the indications of handmade, the imperfect but perfect marks and evidence that an object was made by another but on the flip side I love technology equally
I love design and all areas of design, I love how design can really improve the experience of living, it makes things more enjoyable to experience and use, and I love that the job of a designer or a design is never done - it can always evolve and be improved upon. I’m also very inspired by the history of modern art and the progression of new visual art over time and the thinking behind it. This inspiration helps me to learn new ways, try different approaches and hopefully help me to make the next design better than the last design.
4. Who inspires you the most & why?
My family who generously always allowed me to follow my passions: my entrepreneurial parents who started & ran their own business their entire careers, my talented big brother, my incredible partner in life & work Johnny & our 3 daughters, Sienna, Bianca & Magenta & the amazing posse of strong independent female friends.
Of course, being on this journey with Luisa is very inspiring, knowing that we have both fully committed to doing this inspires me.
Creatively, designers such as Lucienne Day, Armi Ratia, Mina Perhonen are all very inspiring fashion and textile designers who are creative explorers, searching for opportunities to push the craft forward, be brave and craft it really well along the way.
5. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Keep strong, face fear and be determined that I was going to stick around to help raise and watch our girls grow up after learning of my diagnosis of cancer. A very close second was giving up being a Graphic Designer to start Madge Goods, although I haven’t “given it up” , but am more precisely utilizing the skills acquired along the journey in getting here.
Yes I’m with Luisa - to start Madge has been the bravest thing we’ve ever had to do. We’ve really had to change everything in our life in order to give us the opportunity to start Madge Goods. It’s been everything from selling the house, leaving full-time work, re-training and learning, moving into a tiny space, getting back into work to raise money - it’s been a constant challenge with no guarantees.
6. What’s your dream project?
Madge Goods has been my dream project for so long, I am doing my dream project and enjoying every minute!
Having the opportunity to put our pattern designs into the environment, all around us and in unexpected places.
7. What are you reading / listening to right now?
Fiona Caulfield’s : Love India Guides: Jaipur, Delhi & Kolkata
My Autistic Awakening: By Rachael Lee Aarris
And have been listening to WarPaint
Been loving the Netflix Series : ‘Abstract: The Art of Design’. It’s a fascinating small insight into the world of some exceptional designers. Very inspiring.
You can find Madge Goods at 241 Australia St, Newtown in Sydney and at www.madge.com.au