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Madeline Liu can be an Artist, Full-Time Student and CEO of Notebeans Stationery

Photos courtesy of Madeline Liu

If you think it’s impossible to balance running a company and doing freelance work all while being a full-time student with a double major, Madeline Liu is here to prove you wrong. 

When she is not working towards her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in both Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of San Francisco (USF), Madeline’s time is spent managing her stationery brand, Notebeans Stationery, or utilizing various resources to advance her professional, academic and personal life. 

In August 2020, California was hit hard by wildfires, a common occurrence in the state. Madeline’s hometown was particularly congested. These environmental issues took an emotional toll on her. She recalled feeling “powerless” and like she was unable to make substantial change. 

Though she recognizes that she was in a privileged position to even have these concerns, Madeline still wanted to contribute to environmental improvement. 

Around this time, Madeline took up digital art. Her first illustration sold out among her personal connections, with all proceeds going directly to GlobalGiving.

“I really felt like my art gave me the power and ability to give back to causes that I wanted to support,” Madeline says. 

Photo courtesy of Madeline Liu

After discovering her new talent, Madeline began to create more illustrations and even participated in an Instagram art challenge. This brought traction to her page and introduced her to a new online art community. 

Fast forward almost two years later — Madeline is now looking to expand her online business into physical spaces through pop-ups and events where she will be able to reach a larger audience. 

Madeline stated that her journey to entrepreneurial success fluctuated between easy and difficult. At the beginning, there were a vast amount of business principles she did not yet understand. She also acted on various assumptions she had about consumer behavior and business models. 

Though work was fairly easy at times, Madeline “wasn’t really able to holistically see everything.” 

As a result, Madeline decided to utilize USF’s business teachings to assist her in running Notebeans, which released the pressure to figure everything out on her own. Madeline describes the act of applying her educational knowledge to her own business practices as an “iterative feedback loop.” 

In addition to university resources, Madeline also utilizes online courses from websites like Coursera and Skillshare, from which she has received certifications in marketing and user experience design. 

Madeline attributes her success to her community, as well. Previously, she firmly believed that she was able to build and maintain her business solely on her own. However, she soon discovered the benefits of community support, particularly from online art and creative entrepreneurial communities.

“The path to success in this economic world is deeply rooted in interpersonal relationships,” Madeline says.

Photo courtesy of Madeline Liu

For students who also strive to start their own entrepreneurial endeavors, Madeline advises paying attention to “any thoughts that are happening in the background of your mind.” More specifically, she wants to emphasize the importance of having a healthy relationship with yourself and understanding your own thoughts. She also stresses that empathy and communication are vital to success. 

“‘She can be both’ means that she can be her most genuine and authentic self,” Madeline says. “She can’t desire something that isn’t already hers.”

Madeline’s social media and contact information for Notebeans can be found on her virtual business card

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