The dizzying success story of Ikonick, an art company dreamed up by co-founders Jeff Cole and Mark Mastrandrea, is both aspirational and relatable. And that’s exactly their aim—to ensure that everyone has access to thought-provoking artwork that is equally affordable and accessible. Keen to create something to honor the female entrepreneurs that helped them along the way, they created the new Ikonick Women collection, which launches today. They tell The Daily how this is only the beginning.
(Ps. Daily readers get 15% OFF their Ikonick purchase with code DFR15 when they order by 12/13 and it’ll arrive in time for the holidays. Don’t say we never gave you anything!)
How did you two originally meet?
Mark Mastrandrea: We’ve been friends for a little more than 10 years. A mutual friend told me about an artist I needed to meet. I called Jeff that day and we started working together. I like to think I saw something in him before anyone else did! We’re like brothers now.
What was your working relationship at the beginning?
Mastrandrea: Jeff was one of the designers for a couple of companies I worked with. We were living
in Carlsbad, San Diego, and we were broke. Jeff has always been good at realizing where the needle is going. He saw everyone on Instagram posting inspiration and pop culture. I started managing another artist and realized that almost no one could afford his work. We then released a limited, affordable print run and had great success in just two days. It was then we realized that there was a market for affordable but aspirational art. We started Ikonick in 2016. For the first year, while working part-time (early mornings, late nights), we made seven figures in revenue.
Jeff, you’ve got 675,000 followers on Instagram. Tell us about your early days on the platform.
Cole: I’ve been doing art my whole life—before I can even remember! I majored in illustration and I’ve done every art job in the book, but it never felt right being employed by someone. In 2010, when Instagram launched, I knew it was going to be the platform. I’ve always been good at recognizing what the consumer wants to see, and I’m obsessed with pop culture. I was one of the first ones to start hashtagging “art.” There were no barriers of entry to it. I was in my basement posting, getting likes…I thought it was fake! This was back when the #art had 20 posts. My own account didn’t start blowing up until after we started Ikonick.
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Did you know it would blow up this much?
Cole: I could see that while posts were getting liked and shared, nothing was tangible and there wasn’t anything for people to hold on to. We’ve seen a lot of art become iconic during our lives, so it’s almost like we’re trying to foreshadow the imagery for a future generation. With Ikonick, we saw great success from day one, but it took decades to get to that moment—a lot of setbacks, a lot of adversity. When Mark and I were hopping around to different companies together, we always felt fed up, underappreciated, underutilized, and underpaid.
Mastrandrea: I think we knew we’d win in life, but I’d be lying if I said I knew this was going to be one to jump-start our business careers when we started. We’re ambitious, but this is bigger than us.
So this new Ikonick Women collection is geared toward empowered, inspirational women?
Cole: It’s not just geared toward them, they helped create it. There are so many female entrepreneurs from all walks of life and across different industries that Mark and I admire and have had the honor to meet, work with, and take advice from throughout our own journey. We leaned on them to conceptualize this collection; everything from their personal style, mantras they live by daily, and how they interact with and inspire one another. Since starting Ikonick, we’ve seen firsthand the value in utilizing art as a purposeful communication tool to connect with like- minded people around the world—but the design has always been inspired by our own personal taste; from color palettes to words, phrases, the people and brands we collaborate with, and the overall look and feel. We know women believe in our core brand values and our motivational DNA, because we connect with them daily, but they aren’t in love with the pieces in our existing collections. We knew in order to create a product and build a community designed to inspire and empower women, we needed to make these women our creative directors, so that’s what we did.
Mastrandrea: Over the years, we’ve built a big network of professional women that aligns with our ethics and values. At the start, Ikonick was about our personal taste. Our female friends loved it, they shared it,
they helped us with the quotes and colors—but they weren’t obsessed with it for themselves, in terms of the aesthetic. So this is for all the women in our lives. It’s a way to take all they’ve given us and make something for them. For us, it’s about being their cheerleaders, promoters, and champions.
How do you think it’ll be received?
Cole: We want these women’s stories to motivate and inspire people. Now, more than ever, it’s about people over the art. We’re interviewing them, documenting their stories, and highlighting them in our wheelhouse by running it through our engine.
Is that what the Ikonick “Women in Business” series is all about?
Mastrandrea: Yes, it’s an online campaign sharing these women’s stories, their favorite piece, and how
it resonates with their own personal and professional journey. Social media is huge for us, so we’re going to lean on that to launch the initial collection.
Can you tell us some of the names involved?
Mastrandrea: Karena Dawn, co-founder of Tone it Up; Seema Bansal Chadha, co-founder of Venus Et Fleur; Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Water; Chiney Ogwumike, multiplatform ESPN commentator and two-time All-Star for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks; and Amina Belouizdad, co-CEO of PS.
Besides social media, how else are you creating a community?
Mastrandrea: We’re starting with this Ikonick “Women in Business” initiative and next year we’re going to be ushering in a lot of big partnerships with amazing women and brands, so stay tuned!
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I think it is very inspiring to know how a brand was created. It shows a human aspect and nobody can speak better about a company than the founder(s).
Really inspiring brand, i’ve followed Ikonick’s journey for a few years now. Cool to see how things have developed!