Meet Madeline, MJC’s Design Director

We have been so lucky recently to welcome some wonderful new additions to our Matilda Jane family. One of those additions is Madeline Katzel. As Matilda Jane’s new Design Director, she works hands-on with the clothing, creating and refining MJC’s beautiful and unique style. Here she explains in her own words what a special place MJC is, and how excited she is about Secret Fields.

As I write this, I am at the airport waiting for my last bi-weekly trip to Fort Wayne before my family moves. Sometimes I ask myself, how I (a born and bred NY designer) found myself picking up my family and moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The answer is simple… Matilda Jane.


I’m embarrassed to confess that when I first got a call for this opportunity, I’d never heard of Matilda Jane. So I did some research. I looked at the website first and found adorable girls’ clothes, but what really caught my eye was the story behind the brand. I read about Denise and her mission to “keep a little girl… a little girl.” Well, I happen to have two little girls (Sonny, 8, and Olivia, 7), so I was hooked right away!

Then I read about Denise and Matilda Jane’s passion for philanthropy. Not only was she super creative, she had heart and soul… what’s not to like! I had to find out more.

When I looked at the blog, Denise and Sam had just returned from Tokyo (one of my favorite places to get inspired). Then I looked through older posts and saw some of the Trunk Keeper profiles, and I read customer responses to the posts.

I saw a lot of passion on both side, and it was clear that this was more than just another girls’ clothing company. Something different was happening here. As a designer of 20-something years… (I don’t want to age myself too much) I have seen a lot. But never this level of passion for a brand.

As the weeks progressed, I made my first trip to meet the team – Denise, Sam, Lynette, Jeff and the rest of the Matilda Jane family. In a few short months, I went from not ever having heard of Matilda Jane to wanting very much to be a part of this fantastic story. And so here I am.

I am so excited for the each release of Secret Fields. I can’t wait to attend more trunk shows and place my own orders. My girls are excited about the clothes, too!

So long for now!


Rya Hibbard - August 26, 2014 - 4:33 pm

I can’t wait to see what you come up with for our 7-10 year olds that don’t want to wear the traditional tween clothing styles……I’ve heard rumor that you were coming to help with a true tween line. So excited for what’s coming. Welcome to the MJ family!

Lindsey Langhans - August 26, 2014 - 4:36 pm

Welcome to the family! I can’t wait to see what awesome things you bring to Matilda Jane! I couldn’t imagine my little girl wearing anything else! Matilda Jane definitely keeps to their desire to “keep a little girl…like a little girl!” And I love them for it!

Stacey Carey - August 26, 2014 - 4:57 pm

Welcome Madeline! I can imagine what a meaningful decision this was; so glad to “meet” you and excited for your journey!

Jennifer Bryant - August 26, 2014 - 4:58 pm

Yes! I feel it and this video really captures the fun-loving adventurous spirit of little girls and Matilda Jane. Keeping little girls, little girls while encouraging them to be unique is perfect! Welcome Madeline! Keep up the great work!!

Julie C - August 26, 2014 - 5:01 pm

Welcome Madeline!!

Patricia - August 26, 2014 - 5:47 pm

Hello Madeline!!!! Can’t wait to see some or your beautiful designs!!!!

Amber Hill - August 26, 2014 - 5:54 pm


Amanda Moore - August 26, 2014 - 6:47 pm

Welcome to MJ. Cant wait to see whats in store on the next releases. Congratulations.

StateChick - August 26, 2014 - 10:57 pm

We feel the heart, the soul and the golden glow…!
As always, the attention to detail is exquisite and I’m so happy that my girls share my enthusiasm for this clothing line!! Can’t wait for next week!

Danielle - August 26, 2014 - 11:20 pm

Madeline, First I would like to say welcome. I always look forward to seeing what MJC has up their sleeves at each release and plat loads. I cannot wait to see what designs and patterns you come up with. A couple of the things that I love about MJC is that 1) My little one can wear something that no one else has on and it makes her feel beautiful and special. 2) The passion behind the clothing is overwhelming! You can see the love and dedication behind the clothing, and 3) The clothing really does keep my little one beautifully, innocently little. You have some big shoes to full but you look like you are up for the job. Again I say welcome and congrats! You will love it there.

Laurel - August 27, 2014 - 8:10 am

Welcome Madeline! I can’t wait to see what you have in store for MJC.❤️

amy j. - August 27, 2014 - 12:14 pm

Welcome to the family, Madeline!

Becky - August 27, 2014 - 1:44 pm

Welcome! Secret Fields is a beautiful collection. I wish you a lot of success and happiness with Matilda Jane.

Erica Scott - August 27, 2014 - 2:35 pm

The “golden glow around it” couldn’t describe it better. I am in love with Secret Fields. My 4 year old is just at the point that she is very sure of what she will and won’t wear. She is in love with the Camilla Ribbed Leggings and Hide and Seek Ruffle Top. We love the entire collection and I am so thrilled that the entire line got her seal of approval because I am so attached to Matilda Jane in my heart! Welcome Madeline! So excited to see your influence on the new collections. Can’t wait to get Secret Fields for my daughter!

Candice - August 27, 2014 - 5:39 pm

Welcome, Madeline! Here’s to the future. :)

Abby - August 28, 2014 - 12:09 pm

Welcome, Madeline! I am so excited to see your ideas and showcasing of our favorite clothing line…ever! :) It is such a fun and beautiful company.

KaMarlowete - August 28, 2014 - 3:44 pm

You know, for me, too, the clothes got me interested, but the philanthropy kept me going back. It’s not a faceless corporation. At every one of my trunk shows, I talk about the little girls who are there in spirit; who are getting food, education, stability, and love because we elect to spend a little more on clothes and buy a little less elsewhere. It’s not because we’re all suddenly rich, or in positions to do great and powerful things, but because we’re voting with our money that people matter more than things. MJC is such an honorable company, and I love that.

Amy S - August 28, 2014 - 8:05 pm


ashley peterka - August 28, 2014 - 9:43 pm

Welcome, Madeline! Excited to see what release 2 brings!! Xo

Cheri Hensler - August 30, 2014 - 5:02 pm

OMG. Sam, you are adorable!

Brooke - August 30, 2014 - 9:41 pm

Welcome aboard Madeline! hearing your interview sounds like you have really experienced the “specialness” that we have found in matilda jane for our little girl! so excited to see what it to come!

Release 2 Sneak Peek!

Summer is winding down. The kids are headed back to school. And while the end of summer is always a little bit sad, we can’t help but be excited – especially with beautiful changing leaves and apple picking just around the corner!

Secret Fields’ second release celebrates the first breath of autumn with a collection of pieces designed to help transition your little one’s wardrobe with style. From cozy sweaters and jackets to printed dresses and tops, you’ll fall in love with Secret Fields all over again!


Soft knits and stretchy jersey make the women’s collection everything you need for a fall on-the-go.


Amber - August 13, 2014 - 2:56 pm

This is seriously the best season yet! Y’all have outdone yourselfs. I can’t wait for September 1st!!

KaMarlowete - August 13, 2014 - 3:21 pm

My son turned 9 a few days ago, so this summer seems particularly poignant for me. I was so young when I had him and in many ways, we grew up together. Now he’s so strong, clever, and brave and literally half-grown. I know it’s silly, but, (a bit), I felt like it was my last “childish” summer with him. Anyway, sorry for the ramblings about a (still little-ish) boy on the page of elegant, feminine wear. I’m eager to see these beautiful textiles. Thank you for the precious sneak!

Julie - August 13, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Love this release! I can’t wait!

Michelle Gresham - August 13, 2014 - 4:57 pm

So beautiful! My favorite so far is the Hide and Seek top; it looks so adorable with the Lovely Garden leggings. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us Sept. 1st! =)

Amy Ijames - August 13, 2014 - 7:39 pm

Love the new colors in the new line! Can’t wait to see the new things on Sept 1 !

Mary - August 13, 2014 - 8:49 pm

Love the orange dress with pink and blue!

brandy lafferty - August 13, 2014 - 11:08 pm

Really need to order some more stuff…about what I ordered last time..

Tamara M - August 14, 2014 - 10:39 am

I love this collection!!! It’s beautiful! I had a trunk show recently to try and spread the MJC love in my town and to hopefully make it a little more affordable for myself ;-) my trunk keeper Sonja Sutton was absolutely amazing and became a quick friend. Can’t wait for my next show! You all are amazing!

Becky - August 15, 2014 - 9:10 am

Sam, I love this line so far and I can’t wait to see R2! Thank you for keeping Denise’s vision for beautiful unique clothing.

Model Spotlight on Franny


The models we work with here at Matilda Jane are all beautiful, spirited, unique little girls. It’s easy to see their sparkling personalities shine through in the final photos. Recently, we met a model with such an inspiring story – and an incredible attitude – that we just had to share her story with you.

Franny is a 6-year-old from Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. She came to the United States because she was in dire need of medical care that wasn’t available in her home country. Rebecca Ghent and her family, from Fort Wayne, IN, hosted Franny when she first arrived.

Franny Singing

When Franny came to the United States, she was 3 years old, weighed only SEVENTEEN pounds, and didn’t speak a word of English. She was quiet and scared but very brave. Her first surgery was in December of 2011. It took 8 hours, a full 6 hours longer than anticipated, but she was released from the hospital two days later. Eleven days after the surgery, the doctors discovered that Franny had contracted post-op meningitis. She was incredibly sick, lost vitals, and was transported from Fort Wayne to the University of Michigan by ambulance during the middle of a heavy snowstorm.

In total, she lost vitals three times and was touch-and-go for the entire trip. But she persevered and was stabilized for surgery. A successful surgery and seven blood transfusions later, she woke up. She told her shocked host mother in very clear English that her name was Franny and that Jesus was in her heart. Franny was diagnosed with multiple neurological disorders, sustained traumatic brain injury and loss, MRSA infection of the cerebral spinal fluid and meningitis. The doctors told her host family that they had little to no neurological expectations for her. She returned to Africa in November 2012 after a full recovery, but her health rapidly declined again.

The organization that brought Franny to the US the first time was unable to bring her back for a second time. So Franny’s American host family, the Ghent’s, founded Ray of Hope Medical Missions to raise the funds needed to get Franny the help she needed. Ray of Hope has grown into a non-profit organization that facilitates and secures medical visas and passports, free transportation, and life-saving care and medical procedures for medically deprived children from underdeveloped nations. Ray of Hope provides select children (14 total since its inception) with all the necessities required to get medical care in the United States. Once healthy, the children return to their families.

Franny came back to the United States for a second time. When she arrived, she was diagnosed with plasmodium falciparum malaria, the least common and most deadly form of malaria – especially dangerous for an already neurologically compromised child. Her prognosis was grim, but once again, she made a full recovery. Franny continues to surprise her host family daily with all of her achievements.


She has a long road ahead of her. The specialists expect for her to have at least 3 additional emergency surgeries before she turns 18. Since Franny’s home country doesn’t have the medical resources necessary to maintain her condition, she is unable to return to Africa. The Ghent’s have become her full-time adoptive family. Franny stays in touch with her “African Momma” via Skype, and hopes that one day when she is older and healthier, she will be able to go back to Africa – even if just to visit.

Despite all of her struggles, Franny has grown into an incredibly happy, kind and energetic young girl. She brought a smile to everyone’s faces at the shoot. From telling stories to leading the crew in a sing-a-long, Franny is one really special little girl.

Click here to read more about Ray of Hope Medical Missions.

StateChick - July 22, 2014 - 2:26 pm

What a beautiful child! God Bless the Ghent family and their ministry! Thanks for sharing. :)

DanaOh - July 22, 2014 - 2:33 pm

Beautiful girl and beautiful story! She must have something very special planned for her on this earth for surviving such horrific medical challenges and beating the odds. I’d love to watch her story unfold over the years. Miracles happen everyday!!! Thank you for sharing the inspiration. xo

Stacie Petta - July 22, 2014 - 2:36 pm

Beautiful story…beautiful girl!

Katie R. - July 22, 2014 - 2:42 pm

Amazing story. She looks like a spunky little fireball. :)

Michelle Gresham - July 22, 2014 - 2:55 pm

She’s beautiful! Good luck to Miss Franny; I will pray for her and her health. God Bless U of M Children’s Hospital; they saved my daughter’s life in 2012. And God Bless the Ghent family as well. They sound like lovely people! And we can’t forget MJC and all the amazing things you do through your company, so God Bless you too!

Heidi Adam - July 22, 2014 - 3:00 pm

Franny’s story is incredible! That little girl has endured more already than most of us will in our full lifetimes and she looks so happy for it all! The Ghent family are her angels on earth! What an inspirational story, thank you for sharing!

Andrea M - July 22, 2014 - 3:02 pm

She is beautiful! Joy just radiates from her <3 it makes my heart sing that through such adversity that she is able to maintain that joy. Much love

Rochelle - July 22, 2014 - 3:04 pm

What an incredible story & little girl! Thank you for sharing.

Holly - July 22, 2014 - 3:06 pm

Wow! What an amazing story, little girl and family! Thank you for sharing her beautiful, happy face.

Katherine Merritt - July 22, 2014 - 3:08 pm

What an inspiring story! This made me mist up. I will be looking up that nonprofit and donating!

Abby - July 22, 2014 - 3:22 pm

Amazing story and an adorable little lady! Praying for her!

Kelly - July 22, 2014 - 3:31 pm

Wow I am just in tears reading this! This is a precious girl and an amazing family ❤️

Brooke - July 22, 2014 - 3:50 pm

What a beautiful strong girl! She is absolutely remarkable!

amy j. - July 22, 2014 - 4:02 pm

wow…bless her heart!!! she is one special little lady! thank you for sharing!

KaMarlowete - July 22, 2014 - 4:08 pm

I love her! (It’s ok to love her, right? Without knowing her? Because I love her!)

Hannah - July 22, 2014 - 4:10 pm

What a sweetheart. I will keep her in my prayers. She sounds like a ray of sunshine :)

Lisa F. - July 22, 2014 - 4:30 pm

Thank you for sharing such an amazing story, thank you to Franny for displaying what it truly means to be small but mighty, and thank you to the Ghent’s for being a shining example of love and positive change.

Val Taylor - July 22, 2014 - 4:35 pm

Beautiful story and little girl. What a blessing that she received the medical attention that she needed. Her story made my day. Thank you so much for sharing.

Sarah - July 22, 2014 - 4:56 pm

What a beautiful girl and such a fighter! Her personality shines through in these photos and she’s a perfect representative of Matilda Jane Clothing!

Amy - July 22, 2014 - 6:09 pm

What a beautiful little girl with an equally beautiful story :)

Jennifer L - July 22, 2014 - 7:27 pm

So inspiring and so thankful for my healthy children. Franny’s story really puts things in perspective. Will definitely be praying for this special little girl.

Becky S - July 22, 2014 - 10:19 pm

She is just precious! Her story is so inspiring. Thank goodness for her host family in America.

Sarah - July 22, 2014 - 10:55 pm

Franny is an inspiration to us all! Thank you for telling her story!

Jessica Merrill - July 22, 2014 - 11:23 pm

Amazing story! What a strong and courageous little girl!!!

annalee - July 22, 2014 - 11:30 pm

WOW, what an incredible story and life! She is such a doll. Thank you for sharing her smile and miracle.

Laurel - July 23, 2014 - 12:19 am

Franny has stolen my heart! What an amazing story.. I truely feel her energy and spunk, thank you MJC for sharing her story.

Stephanie L. - July 23, 2014 - 1:45 am

What an incredibly adorable and brave little Franny! Praying for a full recovery.

Aubry Rambaud - July 23, 2014 - 1:58 am

Love this, thanks for sharing Franny’s story! I’ll keep this sweet girl in my thoughts and prayers!

Joy - July 23, 2014 - 8:59 am

What a beautiful story! Thank You for sharing with us. Franny is such a doll!!

Shari W - July 23, 2014 - 9:15 am

This is just another reason I love MJC and am proud to help spread the love! You all are the best! Thanks for sharing!

Kayla - July 23, 2014 - 9:20 am

Awesome post!!!! Loved Franny then and love her even more now.

April Aguilera - July 23, 2014 - 1:55 pm

I am in tears… what a beautiful little girl… what beauty she brings to the clothing. Thank you for the work you do. Thank you for making girls like mine shine!

Gran - July 23, 2014 - 2:49 pm

I love reading Franny’s story. Her bubbly personality is showing all over the place in the pictures. Perfect MJC model!

VIOLETA - July 23, 2014 - 11:14 pm


Loretta C - July 23, 2014 - 11:33 pm

I don’t know if I am crying tears of joy or sadness, but all I can say this god bless the Ghent Family and their beautiful daughter, Franny! I will definitely be looking for more pictures of this beautiful and spirited gal in this and future MJC releases. Her smile lights up my heart :)

Thank you for sharing this story with us.

Stacey C - July 24, 2014 - 10:13 am

What a beautiful story… what a beautiful smile… what amazing hearts…. God is Good….

Veronica - July 24, 2014 - 11:36 am

When I saw Franny’s pictures for the first time, my face lit up because she sees like a wonderful little girl, just bursting with energy! She looks like the kind of little girl I would like my daughter to be; tenacious, funny, kind, beautiful, brave, and full of life and laughter! Thank you for choosing someone so inspiring to be one of the faces of your new line! I can’t wait to see what is next for sweet Franny!

Mary - July 24, 2014 - 11:27 pm

Incredible story. What love and courage for her mother to let her go so that she could be well and have a chance to live. Thank you for sharing her story and what an adorable model she makes.

Jocelyn - July 25, 2014 - 1:57 pm

Wow! She sure brightens up my day, especially after reading this!! She is absolutely gorgeous, and even more gorgeous in her MJ! Thanks for sharing this story!

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