Senior Spotlight: Macki Alvarez-Mena '18

Senior Macki Alvarez-Mena is a creative entrepreneur who followed her intuition to the Academy. “I wasn’t really searching; I was kind of trusting I would land where I was meant to be.” Here, Macki looks back on her projects, her path to the Academy, and a few of her favorite things…

What project are you working on right now?
I am currently in the process of re-establishing my kids brand, Macki and Company, which I created in 2008 while in sixth grade. Macki and Co. is a brand targeting adolescent girls between the ages of 7-12. My goal is to create an ecosystem of products that allows these girls to express their individuality and allow their imagination to become a part of their reality. I am currently in the process of defining these products and making this world more concrete.

A young woman shows off two denim jackets. One has lips painted on it and a speech bubble with "Blah blah blah." The other has two hands in a W shape and says "Whatever Forever"

How did you develop the idea for Macki and Co.?
It started when I was in sixth grade drawing cartoon characters for a friend during math class. One day I decided to transfer these characters onto canvas tote bags and began painting customized character totes for my friends as well. My two sisters brought the totes to school and the response was incredible. Classmates began ordering their own "Macki Bags" at the rate of 40 to 50 bags a week. Due to the enormous demand, I began screen printing my designs to mass produce the bags. Within six months I began selling my products at a local boutique, and from there, over 30 stores across the East Coast. Despite its growing popularity, I decided to put Macki and Co. on hold throughout high school for various reasons. While at the Academy, I've gained the technical skills to create the content I've been visualizing for Macki and Co. as well as entrepreneurial knowledge to turn it into a substantial business.  Through my internships at Nickelodean and Dreamworks I've also developed an incredible network of mentors and a deeper knowledge of consumer products.

Cards and stationary with light, bright colors. A "Macki and Co" label is visible

Who inspires you?
Walt Disney.

Describe your journey to the Academy. What were you looking for in an undergraduate program?
I wasn’t really searching; I was kind of trusting I would land where I was meant to be. The Academy came to me randomly, but once I discovered it, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. It was the only program that expressed my emotions and ambitions so perfectly in words. The fact that my sister had also graduated from USC in 2016 and that I would be a part of the Academy’s inaugural class – it was all too great of a coincidence. I knew my future would be at the Academy. 

What advice would you give to a freshman?
Don't get too overwhelmed by all of the opportunities and routes others are taking. Focus on your strengths and what you believe will be best for your overall goal. Don't worry about the rest.

Describe one thing most people don't know about you?
I love rainy weather.

What is one thing your parents taught you that you'd like to share?
Success is 10% talent and 90% hard work.


Essential things you keep in your backpack?
Laptop, notebook, sketchbook, pack of markers, pencil case, headphones, sunglasses, wallet.

Favorite app or website?

Favorite class at USC and why?
Rapid Visualization, freshman year.   I felt that my cohort became very close to one another during this time.  We became a unit through our work periods and projects.

Favorite way to de-stress?
Draw in my sketchbook.

Guilty pleasure?
Mint chocolate chip ice cream with nerds on top.

Thank you Macki! You are an inspiration.
Instagram: @__macki
Twitter: @__macki