Madeleine Kojakian aka Maddy K
Maddy K is a Montreal institution when it comes to glamorous, luxurious and unique wedding & event planning.
She does so with such flair and class, her events never go unnoticed!
She is a creative, determined, disciplined and a charming business woman,
and we suspect she might have more than 24 hours in her day to accomplish everything she does.
Economics degree, Concordia University
E-commerce degree, McGill University
Founder of Maddy K
A wedding and event design house
Some of her famous events include:
Ritz Carlton Grand Prix
Maddy K inspires (luxury retreat)
At what time do you wake up:
at 6 a.m.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up, I make some coffee then I go pray and meditate for 15 to 20 minutes.
Do you have time to train?
After I meditate, I wake up my kids, I get my son ready for the bus to pick him up.
Then I get my daughter ready, of course my husband helps a lot. I drive her to daycare and whenever I can, I go to the gym for an hour.
So my day usually starts at 9:30 a.m.
At what time do you go to sleep?
It depends on the workload, but when I'm not working on an event where I can be up until 3 in the morning, I try not to work passed 11 pm.
That's when I start planning for my following day, my to-do list, I read articles online that I saved on my phone throughout the day,
I talk to my husband and then I fall asleep.
Does your husband play a role in your business?
He has been very supportive from day one. He knew what kind of person I was from the start.
He knows I'm an entrepreneur with big dream, very ambitious, a go-getter, and he loves it.
He pushes me and never said no to me, and I think it's a big cause to my success because it allowed me to focus my energy towards my business.
I'm completely sure that I am where I am because of my husband and the relationship we have. It makes you more confident, and we are like a team.
How did you become an event planner?
When I was studying, I was really interested by the stock market and trading. I was planning to move to New York and work on Wall Street.
But when I met my husband everything changed. I ended up staying in Montreal and my career direction changed. I worked at a venture capital firm.
One company they were investing in was a media firm that had different web-based magazines as well as print magazines. I was put in charge of all of the sales and marketing for one of their magazines. I was in charge of planning events and collaborating with big brands, that's how I got into the planning world.
When I was planning my wedding, I realized that we didn't have a local wedding magazine so I told them, why don't you do an annual wedding issue?
They liked the idea and went with it. I asked one of the writers to do a profile on a wedding planner. Two weeks later, they came back saying they couldn't find one. I knew there were some wedding planners, but they weren't advertising or easily accessible, so you couldn't find them easily.
That was my cue, there was an opportunity in the market. So I created my own company and built a website for it. I didn't know much about wedding planning apart from planning my own wedding, but I still launched it and I slowly started getting calls because I was available online,
and brides were able to find me.
Would you say your background was of any help?
Yes, because even though event planning is a creative business, you still need to run it like any other business. I also worked in an interactive marketing company. I was working with companies like Bell, La Senza, Aldo. This experience helped me brand my own company.
My background in interactive-marketing, branding and advertising, is what I excel at.
What was the scariest part when you started?
It wasn't scary at the start. I still had my career and was doing very well. I was in charge of million dollar accounts and was put in charge of managing those accounts, which meant wining and dining my clients at the best restaurants, traveling and just maintaining the relationships. At the same time I was working very hard and growing Maddy K. When I got pregnant, I realized I couldn't work evenings, weekdays and weekends anymore, something had to give.
It was the hardest thing to give up a stable job and career, but my heart belonged to Maddy K. I was giving up a career that I worked so hard for,
for a business that could fail and make me go backwards. I followed my heart and convinced myself that if you follow your heart then there is no room for failure and I've never looked back.
Did you overcome a big challenge in your life?
It was hard working while I was pregnant, even working with a newborn. When you own a business you can't leave a year for maternity.
Life has to continue and it's a huge challenge, but I got used to it. I'm very lucky, because I have a good support system at home, my husband,
my mother-in-law, my mother, a nanny so they all help a lot. But it was still very difficult, because you have to deal with the feeling of guilt and try
to convince yourself that it's ok to leave your child at home.
What are the strengths or qualities that made your business successful?
Everything that I do, I do with passion. I've always known that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, so when I started my business, I was extremely motivated. Waking up in the morning and working hard was never a problem. I'm a go-getter. I have no problem working day and night to get what I want.
Ever since I was a young kid, I loved building businesses. I love innovating, coming up with ideas, and so it's part of who I am. It's in my nature.
It's just what makes me complete.
How do you manage your stress?
Meditation. During the day, I stop for a moment, breath in and start to calm myself and tell myself:
"really, what's the worst that can happen? at the end of the day, it's an event, it's a wedding and everything else can be managed".
I try to put things in perspective. There are people dying of hunger and thirst. It's very stressful, but we're very blessed to be living where we are.
I'm very blessed to be doing what I love and whatever problem it is, it's not as big as I think it is at the moment.
What drives you? Are you working towards a goal?
You evolve in the business. I started 12 years ago and I've changed so much. At the beginning I started because I thought there was an opportunity.
But as the business evolves, as you grow as a person, so does your purpose and what you want. I love creating experiences, I love making people feel special, I love designing, I love trying to do things out of the box. Now we do so much more than just events, because I want to be able to inspire others, make a difference, help and push women to live a life of purpose.
Is there someone that inspires you?
I get my inspiration from a lot of people and a lot of things so I can't say that there is one person out there that inspires me.
It comes from a little bit of everywhere around me; it could be a co-worker, someone I talk to or a stranger that I bumped into.
It could be anything that I feel and that keeps me in awe.
You are a mentor?
Yes, usually for women that are trying to start their own businesses or that are dealing with the challenges of managing family and business.
My passion is to inspire women in business and life!
What is a common mistake the entrepreneurs that reach out to you make?
They give into their fears. They get scared and think of failure. Their ego plays a bigger role, so they let it be in their way.
Also, a lot of entrepreneurs when starting-up, compare themselves to others. I find that it completely shatters and impacts the way you do things.
Everyone has its own voice, his or her style, so stick to who you are and create a brand or identity that's true to you, be yourself!
Especially in the creative world, people want to automatically categorize you. I often get asked that question and I don't think that I'm like anybody.
No I'm not the best, but I feel that I'm so unique in what I do, that I don't want to compare myself to anyone. This has helped me tremendously in my business because there are a lot of event planners out there, but if you want to get a Maddy K Event or Wedding, well then there is only one Maddy K ;)
What is the best advice you would give?
Never ever ever let anyone tell you that you can't. A lot of people have a lot to say about others people's dreams.
My family is amazing and although I love them and they love me, sometimes they tell me that my ideas are really crazy, so I just don't listen to them. Sometimes you are going to fail and sometimes you are going to win. At the end of the day, it's not up to anyone to tell you what you can and can't do.
That's even what I tell my kids, I don't want to be the one to shatter theirs dreams because of the risk involved.
For instance, my husband, my whole family, friends and co-workers told me not to do Bridal Boudoir because they thought the market was already saturated, I was going to fail. Now I'm celebrating 7 successful years, and my husband sometimes jokes and says, it's a good thing you listened to me and did it because it's the best thing you ever did. So my advice for anyone it to follow your dreams, no matter what it is!
What is your tip for working moms? How can they find balance?
They word balance if very tricky. The truth is you can't really find a balance day-to-day, but you can in your year.
There are busier times and calmer ones. In the long run you balance it out. I also feel that it's not about the quantity but the quality of time you spend with your kids. My advice is to find your happiness and then worry about the balance. I'm a true believer that if you are happy inside, content and satisfied with yourself and that you feel like you're accomplishing and following your dreams, then everything else falls into place with everyone and everything around you, and you feel like you are living a life of purpose.
Do you feel women and men have different attitudes towards business? Do you think it's a strength or a weakness?
Women are more conservative because they think of everything. They are always calculating.
It could be a good thing but also a bad one because your actions and decisions are not based on what you want, but on the possibilities and circumstances around you, which make you miss opportunities. A man will think of what he wants and do it. But still, some women are exceptions. We have a lot of strong women that will go and not let anything stop them. Unfortunately, that's the minority.
Are there any new projects to expect soon?
We are working on many new projects.
Maddy K is evolving and although we love what we do we realize that time has come for us to transition and open the way to new things.
I started the business with weddings, then we transitioned into events and in the new year we will be launching: Maddy K Event Marketing Agency.
We will be creating events with the brand marketing approach. With my background in marketing, styling and combined with the experience in creating special out of the box events, our agency will be unique and different from any other event planning agency in the city.
We will offer marketing, social media, design, event design, styling, campaign and so many other services that are all brand driven!
Of course there are other projects in the works also, but if I keep talking about them we'll never end this interview, so we'll keep them a surprise!
One thing people don't know about you?
I love country music and listen to it when I need to concentrate and get some un-interrupted work done!
My dream is to go to the Nashville Country Music Awards one day and maybe even live in the country in a farm house!!!
(I know, who would have thought???)
If you want to follow Maddeleine's dreamy events and projects make sure to follow her:
Facebook: Maddy K Atelier
Facebook Bridal Boudoir Affair
Juliette & Prince
Facebook Juliette et Prince
Photographer: Sarah Emily St-Gelais
Make-Up: Ashley Diabo
Hair: Nora Ohanessian
Location: Ritz-Carlton of Montreal & Maison Boulud
Madeleine is wearing the Izra Dress
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