A mother-daughter duo is helping military families capture their stories through everyday jewelry.
Roughly 19% of small businesses in the U.S. are family-owned, according to SCORE, including the “small but mighty” team behind Charliemadison Originals. The brand is owned and operated by Wendy Hively, whose husband retired from the Navy, and her daughter Madison.
The family business
Wendy comes from three generations of military service, representing four branches. Not only did her husband serve 20 years in the Navy but her father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, and sister-in-law are all veterans.
After her husband retired, Wendy continued working full-time as a scientist but wanted a creative way to celebrate her military heritage. In 2010, she says she started making military-themed bracelets to connect military families and remind them of the importance of community.
“I wanted something tangible people could look at every day. We want to use jewelry to connect people together and let them know they aren’t alone,” Wendy told Military Families Magazine in a video interview.
It was her husband’s idea to name the new company Charliemadison Originals, after their two daughters: Madison and Charlotte (Charlie).
Now, Madison, the older sister, is grown and taking her place in her namesake company, working alongside her mother. Together, they hand-make each bracelet they sell.
From military kid to marketing director
Madison says she doesn’t remember the early days of the company, but she grew up watching her mother work full time, run a business, and raise two children. It left a big impression.
“She’s always been a big role model for me. She does everything very successfully. It showed me you can do anything you set your mind to,” she said.
Inspired by her mother’s hard work, Madison went to college and majored in business with a focus in marketing and entrepreneurship. When COVID-19 shut down the country during her senior year, she returned home and attended online classes to get a masters in data analytics.
“I worked part-time for the business during those two years and fell in love with it. I like selling tangible things, building a brand, and creating a community,” Madison said.
Madison’s official role at Charliemadison Originals is marketing director, but she says every week looks different. She uses her social media skills to create every video on their website and social platforms. She also works on product development, designs, collaborations, and packing orders. This year, she was excited to launch the new Empower collection.
Cramped quarters? Not for a tight-knit family!
Madison and Wendy carry out all business processes within their home. When we asked if Wendy had to rearrange her workspace to make room for Madison, she laughed.
“No,” she said, “but the secret is that our studio is the whole top floor of our house. We can do separate things without being on top of each other, and we aren’t often up there at the same time.”
Both mother and daughter enjoy working together, but acknowledge it isn’t an arrangement for every family.
“We are similar personalities, but we compliment each other,” Wendy said.
Madison agreed they work well as a team.
“We have a special relationship for going into business together. Communication is a big component. You have to talk about things and get on the same page. We each have our own strengths, so it just works.”
Mother and daughter building community together
The Hivelys never forget the meaning behind their bracelets. Wendy’s motto, “Everyday reminders that every day matters,” is meant to inspire military spouses — and all women — to know they are never alone in a challenge because others have faced similar moments.
“Not only have we been able to bless other military families with our giving-back program, but so many opportunities and really fun, exciting moments have happened to our family because of the business and getting to meet other people,” she said.