Girls Just Wanna Have Funds with Maggie Malone

Maggie Malone is a serial entrepreneur and publisher with over 30 years of experience in media, with a strong background in sales and partnership building and a passion for art and culture. She is also the President and Founder of Cultural Media which has a five-year history of publishing partnerships with world-class museums. Previously, Maggie was the President and Publisher of The Chicago Flame newspaper at UIC and the President and Publisher of TenbyTen a Chicago based contemporary art and design magazine.

I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Maggie about some of her personal struggles as well as the struggles of women founders and entrepreneurs.

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Maggie moved to Chicago after meeting her husband about 22 years ago. Here, she began working in print and quickly transitioned to publishing. Using her print background, she ended up working with a company called Modern Luxury doing luxury publishing. She relates to her experience as a nice experience because she had a very good relationship with the CEO, who was so transparent and really awesome.

“I decided, because I came from a very entrepreneurial family and I'm very entrepreneurial, I was going to go and set up my own business, so I did. I built up this suite of museum magazines, and here's the thing I want you to know: as a female entrepreneur, not a red cent in capital. I built it from nothing because who's going to give you money? Nobody.”

Not having sufficient funds in this field as a woman entrepreneur was a tough obstacle for Maggie.

“It's not fucking fair. We have to fight harder and our chances of success are so much fucking smaller, because of the resources that we're given. And it frustrates the shit out of me,” said Maggie when asked about how being a woman has impacted her in the business community.

Maggie believes that although funds are a huge obstacle for women, women to women support is crucial to achieving success. Maggie enjoys talking to other women entrepreneurs because they understand what it’s like. “It's like people who are giving up alcohol. If you're meeting with other people who are giving up alcohol, it makes it easier, because they know where you are,” said Maggie.

While participating in the Westin at age 16, Maggie met several female founders and entrepreneurs. Maggie was astonished by their stories; however, she recalls them all saying then anxiety and depression had hit every single one of them. This encouraged Maggie to begin practicing self-care.

“Self-care is a big issue for women founders because as women we always give it our all,” stated Maggie. Maggie sees a therapist once a week and meditates. She also dismissed alcoholic beverages completely. Maggie states that her self-care plan is “a work in progress”.

Last year, Maggie was at a point where she nearly had a seed round ready to activate, but then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that point, Maggie had put all of her employees and said, "Look, guys. I'm sorry. I'm going to bring it down to just me. I'm going to just continue selling my media sales and put the platform development on hold and see what happens."

I asked Maggie what has motivated her to keep going to which she responded, “I think I have an inherent entrepreneurial gene anyway. Literally, all my family is entrepreneurial. But I am not risk-averse at all. And it's not a good thing necessarily, because sometimes I'll take too much of a risk. I have this really hopeful outlook. I have this outlook where I can see the thing in six months' time and a year's time, and I can start to see the steps that need to take place.” However, funding remains an obstacle for Maggie.

“I honestly think I would have been really successful if I'd had funding. But I've never had funding. So it's very hard to have a big picture when you've got $1,000 in the bank and you've got a payroll coming up. You're just like, fuck. How are we going to do this?”

Maggie’s advice to other women trying to climb a ladder of success, in whichever manner they define success, is to find ways to get money behind you. “Don't take it from friends and family, because that can be a shit show. I mean, if you have to take it from friends and family, fine, if you really believe in your product. But put the time in to get your product to a certain place before you ask for money if you can at all. Work part-time doing something else and get your product to as close to at least MVP as you can.”

Maggie also says, “Just be brave and do it. Fuck it. You only have one life. Just do it. Do it.”

Maggie’s goals and vision for the growth of women in business is, of course, funding but also seeing more women on boards and positions of leadership. Women being in positions of power in large companies is going to really make a difference.