The entrepreneurial spirit, there are some people who think they have it and dabble a little here and there, then there are those who live and breathe it. Today’s Women to Watch are a set of identical twin entrepreneurs. These women may be pint-sized, but believe me… they pack a big punch and are well on their way to taking this world by storm!
Please introduce yourselves…
We are Melissa and Michele Matthews! We are the owners of MAM Squared LLC, a grouping of five small businesses that include strategic communications consulting, fine art production and creative services, retail and professional development training consulting.
We know, we know it sounds like a lot but we are passionate about so many things. Being twins and spending the last 29 years working together on multiple projects be it, stay out late strategies as adolescents or graduating college whilst working multiple jobs, we have found unique ways to blend our individual talents into a dynamic force. Said force is currently propelling our business(es) forward.
We grew up in Brooklyn to Caribbean parentage. Thus, we embody a lot of that gritty “get it done” attitude of NYC with a uniquely spicy and colorful flair of Trinidad (where our family is from).
Tell us about your work…
MAM2: MAM Squared LLC is the parent company to our 5 companies: MAM LIMITED ART- a fine art and creative services consultancy; Agitate Media- strategic communications consultancy serving NGO’s ; MAM’s Artbox- Affordable art Etsy shop that features DIY prints for At Home interior designers; UN-MATCHED.COM- an e-commerce women’s clothing boutique serving the women of Trinidad & Tobago; and Common Ground Chronicles- an online media platform combating negative portrayals of women in media. It is also the umbrella under which our passions collide, mix together, and create a platform for us to help others. Throughout our journey as entrepreneurs we have experienced a lot of things and made a lot of mistakes. Is that extraordinary? no. in fact it is quite common, so we have decided to use the knowledge we have gathered to help other entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs avoid making some of the more bonehead mistakes that we’ve made. We do so through the MAM Squared LLC blog, webinars, videos, and online resource kits.
Why did you decide to start MAM Squared LLC and why do you think it is important?
MAM2: We decided to merge our individual businesses into MAM Squared LLC in the Fall of 2013 because in all honesty, it made sense. Here we were twin solopreneurs collaborating on a number of client projects because we needed each other’s skill sets to complete the work we were doing and it dawned on us that we didn’t have to be 2 one-woman shows, we could be 1 two-woman show.
What impact, if any, does your work have on women?
MAM2: All of our work in common ground chronicles is geared toward providing a platform for women to be empowered. Through Agitate Media we have worked with several girl/ woman oriented NGO programs. And as we grow MAM Squared LLC, we have several webinars and programs planned that cater to women entrepreneurs and creatives.
What has been the most rewarding part of your work and what are you most proud of?
MAM2: There is an innate satisfaction that comes from doing what you love. We both experience that daily but there is an even more rewarding experience that comes when you realize the impact of said work on others. It is powerful to live a dream that fuels the dreams and aspirations of others. That fact is certainly not lost on us, in fact it propels us forward.
What has been most challenging about your work?
MAM2: Getting over ourselves and our preconceived notions on what one requires to cultivate a successful business life. One thing that entrepreneurship will teach you day in and day out is that you are wrong. Wrong about a lot of things, a lot of the time. and you have to embrace it. We fail spectacularly some months, some weeks, some days and we learn. We thought we needed money, we didn’t and sometimes still don’t have any to support some of our pet projects and somehow they are thriving sans big budgets and big staffs. We thought certain ideas would flourish and learned mid-stream that they weren’t going to work and had to scrap them. Getting over our need(s) to be right, and our instinct(s) to always succeed has opened doors we could never imagine.
What is your favorite quote and why?
MAM2: That is a hard one. As we both are a bit “Being Mary Jane,” about collecting quotes and wisdom that inspire us in our work and lives. However, here is one we are both fond of “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing to not put it in a fruit salad.” it is representative of how life and business can teach you what is and isn’t appropriate as you grow and mature on your journey.
Who are your greatest influences?
MAM2: Ironically, we are each other’s greatest influences amongst a host of artists, activists, community leaders, etc. We tend to balance one another and therefore, present each other with varying perspectives on life and work. We are two uniquely familiar beings born out of the same line of strong maternal figures however, our lens is completely different. In that way,we challenge each other to be better, more tolerant, and open minded.
What would you like for your legacy to be?
MAM2: We want our legacy to be just as we have written the tag line for our company, “[building a] legacy of inspiration, empowerment & engagement” for those that come after us.
What’s next for you?
MAM2: World domination. LOL. We want you guys to be decorating your homes and offices with our art, wearing our clothes and accessories, using our trademark strategies to build your businesses and using our platforms to teach your girls that they have a voice in this world.
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