Basic Info

Name:
Cara Federici
Contributor Status:
AdVice
Initial Contribution Date:
04/20/2019

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Architecture / Interior Design / Decorating, Hotels / Hospitality
Personal Career Headline:
The Madison Melle Agency Founder

My AdVert

Career Snapshot:

My current portfolio includes an array of development companies and individual properties, including Two Bunch Palms, Petit Ermitage, Bridgeton Holdings, Blake’s Kitchen + Bar, Aspen at Manchester, Redford Hotel NYC, as well as past clients such as Cachet Hotels and Resorts, Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island and Walker Hotel Tribeca, to name a few. My collective experience is derived from having worked under some of the world’s most notable names within their respective industries, including Brad Korzen from KOR group + Proper Hospitality, André Balazs of Standard Hotels and Jim Lippman founder of JRK Property Holdings.

Prior to starting The MADISON MELLE Agency, I excelled across several positions in the hospitality industry. I had the pleasure of formerly serving as vice president, global hotel brand management and vice president, operations for The Americas portfolio at Cachet Hospitality. Before that, I was pre-opening and operating general manager for Proper Hospitality, as well as vice president of room sales and hotel operations for real estate developer and interior designer, Avi Brosh. I graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City with a Cum Laude from Tulane University, with a Bachelor of the Arts in Communications, and a double minor in Business and Art Studio.

AdMission Statement (AKA Personal Brand Pitch):

As the founder of The MADISON MELLE Agency, my team and I serve as a boutique consultancy specializing in hotel and residential mixed-use properties across the globe. We work to create bespoke brands hand-in-hand with owners and builds a launchpad for success – utilizing creative branding, programing and design to make each project unique. With 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry informing me, I have first-hand insights and experience within the industry that allow me provide strategic consulting.

My AdVice

How did you get into the industry?:

I spent the first decade of my career working in-house at some of the world’s top hospitality and real estate companies. My passion and drive for each project allowed me to excel in each position, training me to be fully-versed in every aspect of the industries – from ideation, creation to implementation and operation. Once I realized I had effectively reached the top of my position at each role, I was ready to take that experience and start my own agency. This allowed to specialize in projects at every phase – whether it’s a launch or coming in partway through to optimize or refresh existing initiatives.

Emerging industry trends?:

While trends come and go, I like to share insights with my clients on how to integrate the latest and greatest from an integrative approach. Each project/client is different, but the methodology is the same if done right. Ideas, initiatives and products can all be implemented using a user-first approach, understanding how the guest/custumer will react and engage with an idea and then build a roadmap to getting there. My time spent working in-house has given me a strong understanding of operations within a company, which I find invaluable when integrating or working with an emerging trend.

Industry opportunities and challenges?:

The continued growth of independent and boutique hotels brings significant opportunity for hoteliers to differentiate themselves and create unique travel experiences, however, it also brings more competition to a previously small sector. With this said, successful hotel brands will be those who stay on the pulse of innovation, pushing the limits of convention, continuing to redefine themselves by looking inward with a-different lens.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

Working for some of the premier companies in hospitality inspired me to go out on my own and do things the best way I saw fit. But my vision doesn’t stop there – my intent in creating The MADISON MELLE Agency was so that I could one day pass it along to my two daughters, who I named the firm after. They continue to be the spark of inspiration behind my endeavors, constantly pushing me to create and innovate. The agency is a legacy project for my children and family for years to come.

What's next for the Business in the near future?:

Although I cannot mention client names just yet, I’m very excited to be working on a hotel rebrand and design in Los Angeles. This property is a landmark in Hollywood, catering to a very elite (and private) clientele, which presents interesting challenges met with creative solutions for a projects of this scale. Once completed, this hotel will unveil a complete redesign and redefine luxury in an already sought-after location. The opportunity to work on something so opulent, while maintaining a sense of comfort and privacy for guests has been a great journey I look forward to sharing in the future.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Greatest Accomplishment?:

The most successful business growth strategy for the agency has been the continued development of long term relationships, garnered from many years of working within hospitality. Additionally, a focus on exceeding expectations at every turn has grown smaller opportunities into larger wins, generating additional referrals and a solid client roster.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?):

Balancing growth in a short period of time has revealed the importance of a solid infrastructure backed by a team of hard working, dedicated individuals to truly scale the company. Finding the right talent and taking the time to assimilate them into the company culture can often be challenging when the workload is high, but, is critical to success, and has proven it is definitely time worth spending.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?:

Clients of our agency enjoy the benefits of creative collaboration with a team of individuals who speak their language, and have walked their walk. Unlike other hospitality consulting companies, marketing or branding agencies, we have the ability to create robust partnerships with our clients founded on a real understanding of their needs and challenges. As a result, they come away with authentic experiences and innovative designs that have longevity and stand the test of time.

How do you motivate others?:

My passion and enthusiasm for what I do has been described as infectious. I hand-pick my team to have that same energy and encourage us to learn and create with one another – I’m a big advocate of leading from behind, while also charting the course. I believe this combination of leadership and collaboration motivates my team to take great pride and accountability in all they do.

Career advice to those in your industry?:

No job is too small and take everything as a learning opportunity. I never take for granted a project that seems like a “slam dunk” – it never is – there are always new challenges to learn and grow from. Since starting a boutique firm, I’ve learned that even the smallest jobs are both rewarding and opportunities to build a relationship for the future.

My AdVantage

What do you do best?:

Multi-task!

What makes you the best version of yourself?:

A quite serious work ethic and a love for making others feel good.

What are your aspirations? (Personal and Business):

My personal goals are also business goals, most specifically finding the right balance between work and play. Our best work is achieved when we are focused and relaxed, rather than stressed out and crazed. I am mindful of giving time back for time put in – both to my team, and to myself.

Most Challenging Moment?:

Leaving a C-Level salaried career and taking the leap into entrepreneurship. It was the most risky choice, but best decision, I ever made.

What Else To Know

Tell Us More:

A Day in My Life:

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Writing this article over a cup of coffee…reviewing the day’s agenda and responding to emails. Getting my daughters’ ready for school at the same time!

10:00 AM – Brand strategy conference calls or team meetings.

12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal? Working lunch is usually the situation – and it always includes some type of protein, large bottle of water…and finishes with another cup of coffee!

7:00 PM – Out to dinner for new experiences, whether with clients’ friends or team members. When not in social mode {most often than not}, it’s continuing to finish projects on deadline, turning on music and banging out creative work.

11:00 PM – goal time for sleep.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Water…and lots of coffee, any kind will do but make it black.

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