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Namesake of “Madeline Drive: Lasercut Wedding Invitations and Special Occasion Items,” this quiet residential street is tucked into the northeast canyonesque corner of Monrovia, a short block away from Bradbury. It is the home of local entrepreneur Amanda Schluter, an architecture graduate from the University of California Polytechnic University of Pomona, who fought back against the struggling economy by opening her own business in early 2012.
“In the age of the internet job search, applying for a job now feels a lot like launching your resume into a black hole with thousands of others, never to be seen again,” says Amanda Schluter, owner and creator of Madeline Drive, with a wry smile. “I think I did everything I was supposed to do: I graduated high school as valedictorian, got into a great university, earned a degree in architecture (with actual internship experience along the way), and we were programmed to think that that would mean a career. It no longer does.” Frustrated with life circumstances, Schluter decided to use her natural artistic skill and knowledge of lasercut technology to follow her passion: making unique and high-class invitations for special occasions. “ I wanted to work hard, doing something I love and studied hard at it too. So I did!” She specializes in weddings. “Since I strive to build a sense of lasting quality and sophisticated whimsy into my product, it naturally lends itself well to the wedding industry, where brides are already seeking out a well-designed, unique look.”
Madeline Drive offers custom invitations with a twist: every item is made of real wood, sliced thin and carved with intricate patterns and text. Packaging the product so it would ship safely to happy buyers took quite a few test runs, but Schluter succeeded; to-date she has shipped world-wide, especially “Australia and China.” She is currently working on designs in black acrylic plastic to add to her line of unique products.
The business is online and internet-based on the craft site Etsy , but don’t let that fool you: Schluter, unlike many in the digital age, is a traditionalist, designing and crafting with both hands and heart. “Design on Madeline Drive is an amalgamation of five years of architecture training, an affinity for the art deco and art nouveau styles, an attraction to the intricacy and filigree of the Divinely-ordered patterns in our natural environment, spiced with the observation of current wedding trends, and curated in the heart of a romantic.” The romantic in question is Schluter herself, who has been together for over four years with “…the poet-writer and other half of my soul, Robert.” She grins bashfully. “He and I are each doing our best to harness our skillsets into a living, so that we may finally be married. Encapsulating our love story though keepsakes has ensured that special moments, long since passed, can still be enjoyed again in sweet nostalgia.
“The need to preserve fleeting moments with the ones we love, which so inspired Madeline Drive, was further deepened for me after my mother was nearly taken from us while battling cancer. Coming home after almost dying, and after a six month hospital stay, she was left disabled by a surgery to save her life. I wanted to be home to help my mom and make her feel like her seemingly unending struggle was not in vain, but for a beautiful, full life and a daughter who loves her much. Working from home would allow me this not only now, but also as I move into my family-starting future. It was in this context that Madeline Drive continues growing.”
She cites the small-town feel of Monrovia as a continual inspiration. “ The shop gets its namesake from the place where I call home: a small California bungalow, on picturesque street Madeline Drive, with a small, white, Westie-dog, Winston. Nestled into the Foothills of Monrovia, surrounded by the beach, the mountains, the desert, the city and the small-town, what more could a creative soul need to find inspiration? As former Monrovia Day Queen, 2005, our town will always be held extremely dear to me. From the beautiful dappled light on the trail to Falls in Canyon Park, to the quaint downtown with its rich textures of raw brick and wood, beautiful boutiques and delicious dining, to the delicate wood details on its perfectly-preserved Victorian and Craftsman Architecture, Monrovia is rich with inspiration for those who seek it.”
When asked what makes her products stand apart, Schluter says simply, “In a market that, at times, can seem oversaturated, I hope to bring a fresh product of quality;, something that engaged couples can surprise their guests with by offering something new that they haven’t seen before. I wanted to use the process of laser cutting—which I find really beautiful, with its burnt edges and rich essence-of-bonfire aroma in the raw elegance of wood—in a new way, among an audience that, I felt, would appreciate the intricate result. I strive to use materials and designs that will ‘stand the test of time,’ as my dad always says, and create products that could be easily repurposed into a display-able keepsake of the occasion, long into the Happily Ever After.
“Madeline Drive promises a promptness and professionalism as precise as our laser-cut creations. I would love to help you preserve a part of your love story with a timeless card from Madeline Drive!” From a true romantic like Amanda Schluter, that’s a promise that will keep.
For more infor please visit www.MadelineDrive.etsy.com, or http://www.etsy.com/shop/MadelineDrive and www.facebook.com/MadelineDrive.
–Story by Courtney Blackburn and photos by Amanda Schluter