Going into college, most students are worried about making good grades, finding friends and their new independence, but sophomore Madeline Falknor had something bigger on her mind entering into her second year: Oprah.

Falknor is not only a successful Miami student, but also the owner of MadelineandCompany, a backpack retail business. This summer, Madeline’s backpacks were featured in the Back to School “O List” in The Oprah Winfrey Magazine.

Madeline started her own company her junior year of high school because she was tired of having the same backpack as everyone else.

“Everyone from my high school has the same brand of backpack, but I wanted something stylish, functional and that I would be proud to carry,” Falknor said.

So, she, with some guidance from her mom, began to develop a business model.

The backpack company launched her senior year of high school and has been thriving ever since. Over the summer, Madeline made the decision to rebrand the company, with the new slogan,“Inspiring Your Everyday.”

On developing her slogan, Falknor said, “Even though it’s just a backpack, we hope it makes you feel special because you are.”

Although she started a successful business at only 17, her friends have never found her intimidating.

“My first impressions of Madeline were that she was very sweet, kind, and on top of her game.” Rachael Sorcher, a close friend to Falknor, said.

When asked about Madeline’s success, Sorcher said, “I think it is really amazing that she already has a business at her age. I really appreciate the fact that she is so hands on with it, and we know we are paying for the best quality.”

This hands-on work ethic has paid off: Madeline’s backpacks are in the August issue of O Magazine.

She is very humble about this major achievement.  In fact, she was not sure if her bags would make the final cut for the magazine.

“We heard we were in consideration for the back to school issue at the beginning of the summer, but then we were kept in limbo for the next two months,” Falknor said about the selection process. The minds at O Magazine loved the bags and included them in the issue.

In the months after its Oprah feature, MadelineandCompany’s sales have tripled, and even quadrupled in the month of August.  

Falknor does not know where her business will take her in the future, but her friends have an idea. When asked about Madeline’s future, Sorcher said, “There is going to be a craze for her bags once people begin to catch on. Miami is a trendy school and this is a trend that students will quickly jump on.”

Mitch Kiefer, a fellow business school student and friend to Madeline, said, “anything that Madeline decides to take on, whether it’s a hard class, project, or starting her own business, she always puts in her all and is successful.”

For now, Madeline is directing her focus on her studies. She keeps up with her business by running its social media account and personally responding to customer service emails.

Even though she appears to be a few steps ahead, a major in Marketing and a minor in Entrepreneurship both require long days in the Farmer School of Business, often armed with a salad from Dividends. You can’t create successful businesses on an empty stomach.

givennm@miamioh.edu

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