Designer Madison King Matches Business With Education

It’s hard to imagine more of a go-getter than Madison King. She is both a full-time student, a senior seeking her bachelor’s degree in Applied Management, and a full-time employee at Willie’s Sport Shop. She invests in the stock market and recently opened her first retirement account. And that’s not all.

Motivated by a class project, King opened her own business in April 2018. “What sparked my interest was a marketing class project where we had to create a fake business,” King said. “I created a cupcake business and I had so much fun doing it, I wanted to start my own.”

King considered the prospect for a while before taking the leap. After much research and brainstorming, she decided to launch her own clothing line. “I wanted to design comfortable outdoor clothing with cool logos,” she said.

Her CC business classes and experience designing for local sports teams and businesses at Willie’s Sport Shop prepared her for this new role. And when King decided to act, she went big. “I read an article about a guy who gave himself 24 hours to start a business,” King said. “On April 1, 2018, I gave myself a 30-day deadline.”

She set an initial budget of $2,000 and went to work. She designed the logo, launched the website and social media, and created the initial line of sweatshirts, girls’ hoodies, t-shirts and hats. “I started off with two different logos,” King said. “Working at Willie’s, I know what people are into style-wise. I see what hats and t-shirts they’re ordering. I had an idea of what would sell.”

Everything came together for the initial launch right on time. “I had a photo shoot on the last day,” she said. “All my friends wore the clothes and my grandma took photos.”

King Country Apparel was up and running. It was the perfect union of King’s passion for business and her love of the outdoors.

King does all the design and printing herself, which keeps costs manageable. In the last year, she’s rolled out six new logos with various themes including hunting, PNW and the American flag. Her clothing is currently for sale on Etsy and at Country Sass Boutique in Napavine, and she’s hoping to expand to other retailers in the future. Plus she always has stock on hand. “I carry everything in the back of my truck,” she said. “People are always asking me what I have.”

Her studies at CC continue to influence King in business and life. “I’ve had amazing opportunities from CC,” she said. “I love this community and I love being able to give back.”

King was self-motivated and level-headed early on. She credits her mother for teaching her good life skills and personal finance. “My mom got me started investing,” King said. “She worked from home and I grew up in the office with her. My mom taught me a lot about finances; she taught me how it was scary at first but worth it. I was in high school when I first invested.”

It was also in high school that King set an ambitious goal: to earn her bachelor’s degree debt-free. “A lot of people I talk to are getting out of college $100,000 in debt,” King said. “I decided, if I go, I’m going debt-free.”

As White Pass High School Valedictorian, King qualified for a scholarship granting her free Centralia College admission for the first two years. She was also awarded the Matthew Swena Memorial Scholarship and Centralia College Foundation Bachelor’s Scholarship. Her job covered additional costs like living expenses, fees and books.

Working and going to school full time is no easy feat. Add in a budding new business, and you’ve got a real challenge. But King takes it all in stride. She even played on the CC volleyball team and has spent time traveling over the last few years. After all this, she had some advice for those just getting started on their educational journeys,

“Find good friends that like to study with you – people who will motivate you,” she said. “Always do your work and go to class. Just enjoy it.”

And when the going gets tough? Remember the goal. “It does suck sometimes,” King said. “I remember calling my mom every day in my second quarter saying I was going to drop out. It’s such a big adjustment; you feel like it’s the end of the year in the beginning. But honestly, just going back to my goal of being debt-free kept me going. That’s the goal I set in high school. And I’m the type of person who, if I set a goal, I reach it.”

King is slated to graduate in June – debt free.

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