For Madonna Badger, Chief Creative Officer of Badger and Winters, there’s always been a big payoff from making bold moves. Whether it was her edgy campaigns for Calvin Klein or her shop’s viral hits like #WomenNotObjects and, more recently, the provocative #NoKidsInCages work, which garnered 120 million impressions overnight through guerrilla installations across NYC. Learn why this award-winning risk-taker’s advice to herself and others is all about embracing change.
What’s a recent project that you’re proud to have worked on?
"As a creative industry, we have the power to shine light on the darkest places."
The most important work we have done as an agency this year is #NoKidsInCages. Working with Raices, a powerful immigration non-profit, we were able to bring this tragedy back into the news, to make people listen again. Congress held hearings, voted to send more money to the border for food and medicine. Congresspeople were going to the border to see for themselves the horrific conditions we are forcing these poor people to live under. The 25 cages that were placed around NYC on June 12 caused a tsunami of awareness and concern. As a creative industry, we have the power to shine light on the darkest places.
How did you get to where you are today?
I worked hard. And I got some lucky breaks. I learned a lot from some really brilliant people, like Calvin Klein and Fabian Baron. I wasn't afraid to take risks. I also believed in my ability to succeed, and I didn’t take it personally when things didn't go the way I wanted them to. I just kept trying. I never complained, out loud anyway.
What pivotal moments have you faced along the way?
My life was forever changed when I lost my entire family in a fire in 2011. My three little girls and my parents. This change continues to be so profound, I could never explain it. I can say that it has made me less afraid to speak up on issues that I would never have been so forward about.
What do you see as the major opportunities and challenges for women today?
I don’t really know why there is inequality in the workplace anymore. It doesn't make any sense. With the knowledge and statistics and awareness of biases that we all have... how can this still be happening in 2019? But then we look at the assault on Roe v Wade, or the fact that the Senate won’t even put gun legislature to a vote, after so many people have died from massive gun shootings, or the immigration border problems we have, and I suppose that women being treated less than equal is not so shocking.
The opportunity I see is that women’s inequality, gun violence, immigration issues are not because of one gender, it’s a problem that requires a human solution. And we need more people to share their belief system about women’s equal rights, etc., so we can definitively change it.
What advice can you share?
Never be afraid of standing up for what you know is right. When we launched #WomenNotObjects and now #NoKidsInCages, we knew it was a risk. Not everyone shares our point of view, but we know that it’s the right thing to do to shed light on these causes, bring purpose to our work and use our creative voices to incite change.
Knowing what you know today, what one thing would you have done differently early in your career?
"What has saved me and what is stronger than fear, is LOVE."
I would lose my old fear of change. Change will happen whether you see it coming or not, and trying to move through the world with fear or worry or control will accomplish nothing. The very worst thing I could ever imagine or worry about or try to control has happened to me. And I am still here. What has saved me and what is stronger than fear, is LOVE.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, money or talent would be no object, what would you be doing?
Working on the border, trying to help the children there.