We had the good fortune of connecting with Madison Lauterbach and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Madison, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had the idea of starting Ms. Mayhem when I was in the middle of receiving my degree in journalism. I got tired of spending hours trying to find women in the alternative fields that I enjoy, like tattooing, skateboarding, graffiti and motorcycles. There was no one single place I could go to learn about women in those fields. Simultaneously, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be able to write the stories that I wanted to if I worked for an established media outlet. So I figured I would just have to create the type of outlet I wanted to see myself.
What should our readers know about your business?
Ms. Mayhem is an online, Denver-based news outlet. We began as a way to not only explore issues important to women but also highlight women who are disruptors and making waves in what are traditionally male-dominated fields. However, as the pandemic unfolded and demands for social justice exploded our scope expanded as well. We started covering stories and issues that are important to traditionally marginalized and underrepresented communities. Although our niche overlaps with other local outlets, we really try to challenge ourselves to report the same city from perspectives that aren’t typically the go-to’s for a lot of more established news organizations. I am most proud of our ability to report on stories from this different angle to in large part to the diversity of our staff. We all have different upbringings, experiences and identities that we bring into reporting our stories. We believe that by employing writers with diverse backgrounds, we can cast a wider net and find stories or angles that would otherwise be easy to miss if we all possessed the same racial, gender, sexual identity or socioeconomic background. Ms. Mayhem is less than a year old, but we have come so far already. Getting all of the logistics like business organization, tax documents, etc. was not an easy thing for me. I have no business knowledge or background whatsoever. I also don’t consider myself a self-starter, so I had to dig really deep to find the motivation to get this off the ground. I overcame the challenges posed to me by reminding myself this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. We’re still self-funded, which has also prevented us from growing as much as I would like. Even almost a year later, I’m still unpaid for my work. I would rather pay my writers, photographers and videographers a decent wage than pay myself. They’re the ones keeping Ms. Mayhem alive. I want people to know that Ms. Mayhem is a news outlet for everyone. We try our hardest to be as intersectional as possible, telling stories for different communities rather than about them. There’s a big difference between the two.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Right now, because I’m immunocompromised and COVID-19 is still a thing, it’s hard to recommend any places to go. The pandemic has also had a huge impact on some of my favorite places. I’ve lived in Denver my entire life, and watching so many city institutions close due over the last year has been heartbreaking. That said, there are so many amazing shops, restaurants and bars in Denver. We’ve profiled a ton of woman, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC-owned businesses and I would recommend all of them. If you’re looking to get tattoos, Disruptive Ink, Blackbird Ink, Sol Tribe and Smokey Banana are great shops. Wong Way Veg, Maria Empanada, Sweet Pepper Kitchen, Taste the Love Cooking and Le French are all fantastic. If you’re looking for cool bars to drink at, Black Sky Brewery and Lady Justice Brewing Company both have amazing ambiances and drinks. And if you’re looking for something to spice up your life, Awakening Boutique has an incredible collection of sex toys, apparel and stuff by local artists. My favorite neighborhood to spend a day in would have to be Baker. There are some incredible restaurants, shops and bars. You can even catch a film at the Mayan Theater. It’s an exciting area with a ton of things to do.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have several former professors at MSU Denver that deserve recognition for how they’ve helped me in my journey. Doug Bell is chief among them. My staff and support also deserve a huge shoutout, since Ms. Mayhem wouldn’t be where we are now without them. Lauren Carter has helped us grow tremendously with her amazing social media and PR skills.
Kaileigh Lyons and Ali Mai