Goats and Bigfoot. This was Bound to Get Crazy.
We were thrilled to catch up with the brilliant ladies at Mad Goat Studio - Madison Dixon and Andie Nordstrom - two powerhouses running their own show. Working with a collective of talented people is at the core of Bigfoot Kick and it doesn't get much better than Madison and Andie. Plus, they're two amazing humans that make the world a better place so it's like a double win-win. A quadruple win? Just go with it, people!
Let's just cut to the chase. What was the inspiration for starting Mad Goat? And of course, spill the beans on the name.
We met working at an ad agency and quickly became friends. It was clear early on that we shared similar aesthetic sensibilities while having different perspectives and skillsets. We were both finding that our side hustles were bringing so much more fulfillment. What started as a half sarcastic comment about starting something together quickly morphed into a real and exciting possibility.
What’s with the name, you ask? When we were first tossing ideas around, we joked about incorporating a goat for a few reasons. Mainly, Andie’s slightly obsessed with them. As an added bonus, goats have lots of qualities we admire. They’re curious, agile, and get along well with others. We have to credit Andie’s friend, Lori, for coming up with the actual name.
Curious like a goat. Nice. Speaking of curious, what are quirky or odd places you get inspiration from when working?
This sounds cheesy, but we try to make an effort to always be looking, reading labels and signs, and being curious in general. We find our best color palettes in nature.
What do you hope your work does once it’s released to the world? What emotions or feelings do you want it to generate?
Authenticity is a huge value of ours. Our hope is that the work we create are honest reflections of the business we’re representing. Not only are we sharing stories and ideas with the public, we’re also creating tools and visual identities that can empower our clients to be in the world with confidence and clarity. Milton Glaser describes the purpose of graphic design is to “inform and delight”. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
I like that, "inform and delight". You also ask brands if they’re "feeling adventurous" and "urge them to make something wild". What excites you about creating on the edge and doing something different?
We love Oscar Wilde’s saying “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” It’s something we not only repeat to ourselves, but to brands as well. We often look at spaces like social media, and see so many brands trying to fit into some sort of mold because that’s what others are doing, and for what reason? It’s often because they’re scared to go out on a limb, or aren’t really sure who they are as a brand yet. We like to be the voice of reason for not blending into the masses, and help them to hone in on their own voice and visual presence that speaks uniquely to them. I mean come on, look at us, our logo is a frolicking goat. You don’t see many of those, and that’s the way we like it.
Ok now that you've dropped Oscar Wilde on us, let's talk about the artist/creative economy. What challenges do you see being an agency operating in this world? What are some things you wish brands or companies did differently to make work and the creative side more equitable and imperative?
The pandemic accelerated changes in the industry that were already underway. The gig economy allows agencies to be more nimble and profitable by hiring just the talent they need when they need it. Of course the downside of that—which has compounded this last year—is that it can be tough to feel like a cohesive team. The upside for Mad Goat is that we’ve been able to work with some amazing national brands and we have the ability to be selective about who we partner with. However, when companies see you as a means to an end rather than a creative asset, it’s easy to miss out on opportunities to do things differently. It doesn’t always go our way, but when client’s bring us in early, value what we bring to the table, and give us the time to create, that’s when the magic happens.
Any challenges being a woman-owned business? Do you see yourself as that first? Does it play a role in helping other up-and-coming women take the leap and go after their goals?
We didn’t set out to create Mad Goat with a strong female power vibe. Not because we don’t value strong women or understand all the challenges present for working women—hardly the case!
We want to be known for our work first.
That we happen to also be women is a bonus. That being said, we’re always looking for opportunities to partner with women- and minority-lead businesses, because there are so many insanely talented ones out there. We’ve connected with several incredible female business owners who have been so supportive and eager to share their wisdom.
Lets switch gears and talk about location. By location I mean home base. Like, your batcave. Your Avengers Tower. You have offices in New York and Charlotte. What’s the vibe like in each? How is it different? How do you draw on ideas and culture from one region to maybe help another?
The two cities couldn’t be much different, and we like that we’re able to get a broader source of inspiration because of it. Being in this industry, we’re always looking for new perspectives and ways to solve problems, so it can be an asset to have a variety of influences on our work. New York tends to be on the cutting edge of… well, mostly everything, so Madison keeps up our cool factor. That being said, the startup community in Charlotte is incredible. There is so much talent and creativity in this city. Generally, we find people to be so kind and eager to help one another out, that we’ve made such good connections here. Hello, Bigfoot Kick!
Have you had any New York / Charlotte pizza arguments? If so, who wins. Ok wait, don’t answer that. We don’t need the pizza drama.
Uh, what’s the argument? S’barro. New York’s favorite slice!
JK. Andie’s generally jealous of Madison in every food & beverage category, pizza included.
Let’s talk about this project. We came to you with some general ideas and a mood board and you took it and just crushed it. Like, we’re so pumped for people to see this work and wear it out. How was it for you to work on this? What do you hope people think or do when they put on your work?
As we mentioned earlier, magic happens when we partner with people who value and respect us and give us the space to create. That has been our exact experience with BFK. The brand has such personality and a story that is so unique, making it a dream collaboration for us. T-shirt design is a true art, and we don’t take the responsibility lightly. That doesn’t mean there’s no fun involved. After understanding the meaning behind Bigfoot Kick, which is both playful and has a mission to educate and preserve the natural world, we got to sketching. We looked at other brands that we’ve enjoyed wearing and created designs we’d want to wear ourselves (or at least see the guys in our lives wear). First and foremost, we want what we’ve created to be in line with the ethos of BFK. Beyond that, if we’ve created something that connects with people, brings them joy, and inspires them to share that joy with others, we are two happy goats.
Alright, before I let you go...one more question since you brought up happy goats. You say that adding a goat to any situation makes it better. Ok. Let’s go. What’s your favorite activity to throw a goat in?
Perhaps the greatest gift we’re given by goats is the reminder to not take yourself so seriously. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C.