Monteka Maddox “Maddox”@msmadd | @amaddfox
Current Location: Bedstuy, Brooklyn Hometown: Oakland, CA Professional Position: Educator, Founder & Creator of ‘MaddFox’ and ‘Maddox’
What do you create?
I create tradition. I create opportunities for women to feel beautiful and feel classic. To feel like the woman they've always wanted to be in an effortless capacity, rather than would be if they just went to retail stores. I curate clothing. I gather clothing. I style clothing. I dig through things and find amazing vintage pieces. I also create clothing. The collection of clothing I create is called “Maddox” made by Maddox. Everything I do is with the aesthetic of Vintage.
Where are you from?I was born in Oakland, but my mother didn’t like the earthquakes, so we moved to Philly, where I was in and out of homeless shelters, women shelters, and section 8. There were some really rough times, but I tell people I’m from Maryland. I lived there from 7 to 17. That’s where I developed — elementary, middle, high school. And, then I moved back to Philly to go to Temple. Philly was a bite-sized version of what I felt was my appetite for what would have been New York. Then, I came to New York in 2006 and I’ve been here ever since.
What kind of person is a New Yorker, to you?New Yorkers are multifaceted. You have the drones. You have the people that go to work every day; but, you also have…the energy here. You have those who demonstrate a grit and grind and a grace to it all. People come to New York to chase whatever their dream is. Their dream is fed here, and I feel that a New Yorker is a little bit more woke than anyone in this country. You’re confronted with culture and art every day..making you very multifaceted.
Why put up with the hardships of the city? Is it worth the rent and the struggle?
I think it is. A pretty telling experience I had - I was speaking to a friend from Maryland that I grew up with and have a lot of love for, and at 19 he was so upset that he hadn’t had a child yet. I was just trying to explain to him that, that’s a local mindset. That’s not the trajectory that you have to be on! There are so many other things to accomplish and do than have children, get a government job, have more babies, get married, and die!
So, I think you experience life here…I think New York is the premier place to be young, gifted, and black. Even days where you don’t want to do your craft, you’re confronted with it. Some days, I don’t want to sew. But, I know I’ll go to a fair or show and there'll be vintage clothing and people selling things they’ve made. It’s always in your face. So that’s why you stay here, for the inspiration, the push, the electricity, the volt you get when you wake up! You do it all to be a part of it all.
How do you make your community a better place?I’ve always worked in Brooklyn. Whether I was at Prospect Park working with the Brooklyn Center for Urban Environment - in the after school component, or by the Marcy Projects working for an after school program. I now work for a high school which is a feeder for PS 21. I contribute to my community by living in it and by encouraging those who I interact with every day. It’s very fulfilling to walk my dog down the street and hear “Ms. Maddox! Ms. Maddox!” I feel the love here, and know I’m building where I’m eating. I’m not some transient that’s coming here to use New York and the community for my own good. I’m supporting businesses. I’m supporting and building the young minds of students who live in projects.
How does the next young woman become Maddox?
I would hope that they wouldn’t become me. I think that if you’re a kid growing up in Maryland, it’s tough not to fall into the grooves and the puzzle pieces that have been laid out for you. Even from a religious standpoint, a cultural standpoint, an educational standpoint — I am totally different from my mother. How can you become different and unique: you have to be different and unique. You have to have the courage and determination to find your own path.
Is this home?
I’m not the type to Craigslist my furniture so I can get up and move when I want. That has a lot to do with my mother. This is my home. The art and the feel. I call it Le Trap House. People come here with plans only expecting to stop by and have a drink, come see me and maybe play board games. Then, four or five hours later, they’re like “What in the world happened to my night?” And, that’s Le Trap House. Home is where your heart is. Home is where your art is. Home is where the rent is paid.
What's the one piece you'd never give up in your home?
I’d never give up my seventies red fireplace. This fireplace is original from my Uncle’s 1970s Philadelphia row house. No matter where I go, I’ll never give up the fireplace. It’s symbolic because it’s been with me since coming to New York. It was a great leap of faith. My Uncle was very supportive while I was in college. It has that emotional symbolic point and it’s absolute to my aesthetic.
What’s an area of Bedstuy that you’re like ‘most people should know about this,’ but they don’t?
Manny’s is a really great spot for breakfast, but it has a C rating right now. Manny’s was the introduction to gentrification. It was the signifier that the neighborhood was changing. Then, Casablanca came. So unfortunately and fortunately that gentrification is here: there’s Manny’s, Casablanca, Gallery Bar. The Gallery Bar is special because you wouldn’t expect a place with such great food to be facing the J M Z trains…And, when I do feel like being a lady, I like to get my nails done. And, you have the Nail Bell and Nail Boutique which are both black-owned establishments. Women doing their thing…And, ahhh, Tepache. I love Tepache.