She's a Hoboken mom. She's a successful and talented interior designer. She's a mom boss and the brains behind Jenny Madden Design!
Cassie photographed them at 726 Grand Street, which is a new development project in town. Jenny picked this location, because she's working with 4 of the unit owners, a big percentage of the 12 new units! The architect of the building was Minervini Vandermark, a local firm. And PS, TWO units are still available!!
We had the chance to meet her adorable little boy, Henry, and chat with her about juggling all of the madness!
Have you always been into interior design? Was this always your passion? Tell us about your background with design.
I’ve always been interested in residential design and thus, I majored in architecture in undergrad, then interned and worked full-time for architecture firms. Before pursuing my architecture license, I decided to try out work in the construction industry as I realized there was a pretty big disconnect between the team designing a project and the team executing the construction of it. I worked for a large General Contractor in NYC for 3 years and it was the most difficult and exhilarating part of my career thus far. I was most often the only female and the youngest person in a room, so I had to pull up my steel-toed boots and prove myself every day. In short, I learned a lot, including that I did not want to be at work at 6:45AM and use a porta-john every day! I decided I wanted to go back to design, but focus on the interiors side of things. I personally felt a deeper connection to the things we touch, feel, and use on a daily basis, the interior side of things. I went back to school for a Masters in Interior Architecture and Design and started working for both an interior designer and a furniture manufacturer while I was in school. Before I finished my master’s, a friend of a friend asked me to design his 2 bedroom condo here in Hoboken! I did, and then two of his neighbors asked who he used, and before I knew it I was building the beginnings of Jenny Madden Design.
In the day where anyone can become “Instagram famous” for just about anything, we know that interior design is a popular area of focus and fun thing to follow. As a trained professional (with some serious degrees!), how do you set yourself apart from the others?
Honestly, I try not to think about “the others.” I could spend all day and night clicking through Instagram accounts of home décor. But I have work to do! I wish I had more time to post what we’re designing, but the work itself comes first because our clients come first, before marketing for the next one.
What is your favorite thing about raising a family in Hoboken?
It feels like we’re all in it together. Do you see this many strollers out and about in any other town or city? I’ll answer that. No, you just don’t. It’s a haven for young families for a number of reasons: a commute that allows you to see your children before bedtime; parks brimming with future playmates and parents to confide in; and perhaps my favorite aspect is that sense of community that comes with a walkable neighborhood.
Disclaimer: We live in Jersey City, on the border of Hoboken, but our office space is in Hoboken, my son goes to preschool in Hoboken, so we’re in Hoboken more than we’re in JC.
Let’s be real for a minute. Is your house perfect?
Ha! I love our home, but it’s definitely not perfect. If you stopped by unannounced, you’d likely see shoes piled by the front door, play-dough on the dining table, and some papers from work sitting out on the counter. We’ve worked to bring furniture pieces we love into our home, but it’s not a “staged” home. It’s a lived-in home. I think the key is creating easy-to-access hideaways, so that when you want your home’s “perfect” look, it’s ten minutes away.
What is the best business advice you ever received? How about the worst?
The best advice I’ve received is simple: Be specific and make agreements. As I work with potential clients and current clients, I want to be clear. And I want to clearly hear them as well. If all parties (including spouses) understand each other’s expectations and then decide, “yes, let’s work together!” then, it’s going to be a fabulous project.
I think bad advice for an entrepreneur is: Stick to the plan. We’re constantly evaluating our plan, and then making adjustments. One of the benefits to being a small business is that ability to be nimble and make a change if you see a better path, or even want to test something out.
As city dwellers, we’re always looking for design ideas that look good and are functional for storage. We know you have many secrets for this, but can you share just one with us?! What is your best tip for stylish storage??
Toy bins with TOPS! They are harder to find amongst all of the baskets and bins out there, but they make a big difference in being able to quickly turn a kid-friendly space into a polished, serene space.
As mom to a small son, what do you hope to teach him about women in business and entrepreneurship?
Great question! I hope he understands that I’m happy to be working, and I’m happy to be a mom too. I hope he understands that when I’m not home with him, I still love him, and I believe he is growing strong and curious without me. I hope he sees me doing things that scare me, working for things that are important to me, pushing forward when things don’t go as planned, and being grateful when they do. There are a lot of ups and downs in the life of an entrepreneur, and my son has been a grounding force for me. I’m super thankful that he reminds me to be present when it’s tempting to always be planning what’s next.
What are your favorite places for a date night when you get a break from work and being a mommy?
Date nights aren’t all that frequent these days, so we can typically try a new restaurant every time we do get out. One of my recent favorites was Orale in Jersey City. Greg and I both like some competition in our lives so capping the night off with darts at Mulligan’s is a nice touch if we’re still awake!
Tell us your funniest mom-fail moment.
Ah, there are many! We were at a playground when my son was really young and he’d never been on a slide before. Another mom said “it’s easier if they go on their belly first,” and so, when he waddled up to top of the slide I set him up on his belly FACE DOWN! I thought to myself, “this really doesn’t seem safe, but what do I know?!” Thankfully a true friend asked me what in the world I was doing and turned him around – belly down, feet first!
A day in the life of Jenny, Go!
6AM – My son wakes us up. He’s the early riser in our family! Often, I’ll prep a social media post first thing to get that out of the way before the real work begins.
6AM – 8AM – This is the time of day I’m most grateful for. Since I’m my own boss and our office is 10 minutes from home, I really try not to rush in the morning. I’ll make breakfast and lunch, think about what we’re going to have for dinner, do some tidying up around the house, and put on a show for my son (yes, we do screen time and hopefully it’s not ruining him!). Usually we get the Play-Dough or slime out at some point and transition from TV to music time while Greg and I get ourselves showered and ready for the day.
8AM – 9AM – Greg or I head to the office, while the other one gets little man ready for preschool , walks him there, and then heads to the office after drop-off.
9AM-5PM – Every work day is different, which I love. Usually it’s a combo of time in the office where I’m working with the Project Designers on staff finalizing decisions on designs and going to client’s homes for meetings, to take measurements, or to oversee installations of the designs that are being realized!
5PM-6PM – Greg or I pick up the little man and get dinner started while the other one gets in another hour of work.
6PM-8PM – One or two nights a week I’ll have an evening meeting with clients who just can’t get home from work any earlier, or an industry event. If it’s not a meeting night, then it’s dinner as a family and bedtime routine.
8PM-10PM – Greg and I will both usually catch up on some emails while we crash on the sofa. These days either football or The Great British Baking Show will be on in the background.
Be sure to follow Jenny on Instagram!
Know a great candidate for the next Mom Boss of the Month? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your nomination!
Photography by Little Hoboken Photography