Designer / BIanko
A serious case of job envy erupts whenever I talk about Belinda Madonini. As designer and founder of BIANKO, Belinda works with prescious metals, gemstones and creates the most exquisite jewellery.
This career story is truly epic. Growing up in Western Australia, Belinda has a career trajectory that we can all learn from, no matter what stage of our journey we are at. From high school, to university and all the stuff in between what I love most about this interview is Belinda’s candid nature and her ease at answering all of my burning questions.
I can’t wait to introduce you to Belinda.
Let’s do this.
Where did you grow up and how did your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in Perth, Western Australia and still live here now. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to so many different amazing places across the globe but feel lucky to call Perth home.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in primary school I wanted to be a news reader and in high school, I studied all the subjects to apply for pharmacy. I made a last minute change following my final exams and replaced pharmacy on my university application with Commerce.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I attended school at Perth College from yr 3 – yr 12. High school was high school for me and exactly what you would expect from an all-girls private school. I made life long friendships that I will cherish forever but I don’t feel like I was able to embrace the true version of myself until I went to university.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
My school was fantastic for pushing you to achieve your personal best academic wise but university was fundamental in establishing my career.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
Following our yr 10 internship program organised by the school, which I completed at my local pharmacy, I continued to work at the pharmacy on weekends for a couple of years following. I also helped out at my parent’s jewellery store on holidays.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I went to the University of Western Australia straight from high school where I completed a Bachelor Degree of Commerce. My majors were marketing and management. Whilst studying, I became involved in a number of social clubs and organisations and helped organise and promote social events for our faculty. This was my first experience in events management and marketing and I loved it. After I graduated, I worked a few years within the sports industry and then changed my focus to the arts, music and festival industry. To support this change in focus, I applied to study at WAAPA (West Australian Academy of Performing Arts) where I completed a Bachelor degree in Arts Management. Following this, I worked within the not-for-profit Arts, Music and Community sector for a number of years and learnt so much about making the most out of small budgets and collaborating with like minded businesses and individuals.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights?
Given the nature of the events and marketing industry, my career journey has been vast and varied. Highlights include working on the City to Surf, AFL Grand Final, Cape to Cape MTB, PUBLIC: street art festival, Perth International Arts Festival.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
After many years of long hours and weekend work, I decided I wanted a change and began working for the family jewellery business full time. It wasn’t until I started working in the store that I realised my love for jewellery design and creating beautiful keepsakes for customers. It was my work in the store that enabled me to see a niche for high end looking jewellery that didn’t come with the price tag. This is what led me to create the BIANKO label.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
The hardest part of my job comes with being a one-woman show and trying to tackle areas of the business. Thankfully I now have someone to manage my marketing and more recently, a team to manage PR. This enables me to focus on design work, selling and other areas of the business.
What does a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
It depends on the day but generally involves waking up early, taking my dog for a walk, then coming home to tackle emails, fill orders, check in with my workshop, various meetings and hopefully ending the day with some exercise and a yummy dinner. I also check in with my social accounts throughout the day and try to answer enquiries as quickly as possible as I hate leaving my customers waiting.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I am constantly inspired by the women around me. Family, friends, fellow creatives.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Surround yourself with people who will support you and encourage you to give it a go. Also, get good advice from an accountant, do your market research and try to save up capital before launching so you can afford to get your product, website, imagery, packaging etc looking professional. Also, you don’t stress too much in your high school exams and what you choose to study after school (if you continue your education). I completed 7 years of uni and ended up in a completely different career to what I started off working towards. In saying that however, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had done things differently. I have learnt so much from all the areas of study and work. Enjoy the learning process and you will eventually end up where you need to be.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your career?
- Website – ABC (news), half baked harvest (for recipes), The Lane (wedding inspiration)
- Instagram – @elle_ferguson – love her style, story and business achievements
- Podcast – I toggle between Shameless, The healthy hustlers, KIC pod, Seize the Yay, Mamamia depending on who is being interviewed or the topic of conversation.
- Netflix/Stan – sooo many, but Shameless (US version), The Bold Type, Schitts Creek, Fleabag and Broadchurch have been recent favourites.
- Mentor – Mina Imsi – she looks after the marketing for BIANKO but she has become my sounding board for all of my business ideas and sometimes life too! I truly value her opinion and feedback. Even though we are based on opposite sides of the country,
having her by my side in the business has helped me grow and lift the brand to the next level. Also, my partner Matt. He’s been my biggest supporter from the start and was the one who really pushed me into giving the business a go.
- Book – I recently finished ‘Where the Crawdads sing’ and loved it. Also The Resilience Project.
- App – Instagram, Planoly, Lightroom, Pinterest