Mary Beth Boone is an entrepreneur, educator and founder who lives in the gorgeous river town of Madison, Indiana. We had the opportunity to talk to her about her background, her role in the community and involvement with not one, not three, but SIX different progressive businesses, her love of travel and much more! Read on to learn how she does it and some great tips for learning while traveling.
You are a multi-hyphenate and an entrepreneur with a creative spirit. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are now.
My name is Mary Beth Boone, I am from Madison, Indiana, which is becoming famous not only for its art, but also a gold standard for Indiana’s music scene as well. We’re growing very much in that aspect – and all the enhancements that we’re doing around the city, and you know, starting these new cultural things, especially, which I want to be very much involved in.
I’ve always been interested in art and felt like a self-starter. I’m personable and very good about meeting people, growing relationships, networking – that started very early on; my mother was a politician. And my father was an artist. Kind of a strange combination but it worked out very well. He was also a fireman for 53 years – the protecting and serving, taking the community and making something special with it. When I was at Indiana University, I studied, met my husband, we got married and moved around a little for his career (he’s an engineer). I’ve always had to pick up and restart wherever we would go. I’ve always found that to be very easy – to plant a seed wherever I was.
When we moved back to Madison there wasn’t a lot on Main Street. In fact, sometimes I felt like we were the Lone Rangers – but this was back 15 years ago. If you go along Main Street now, all the stores are hustling and bustling. And we’ve been able to work with other people – bring people from out of town – recruit them to Madison, and they bring their talents back with them. We also work a lot with Hanover College – I work with the Business Scholars Program. I think with our community network we’ve kind of created a bridge and an entrepreneurship for these students to grow from and have a passion and spirit and take part of – not only what they’re doing on campus but as a part of the community as well.
I love that – I remember our conversation where I had learned about your background in entrepreneurship and giving back to the educational community. So speaking of Madison – where is your favorite spot in Madison, Indiana, and why?
Simply sitting on the panoramic river. Sometimes I’ll go there when I really need to be stimulated, or hit my reset button, I’ll just go sit by the riverbank. I stare at the Ohio River and the blue skies right by Bicentennial Park. Sometimes you’ll hear music – the most inspiring time of the day for me is at lunchtime, or at six o’clock, when you hear the bell of the church. Sometimes I’ll also go to the Lanier Mansion – a beautiful mansion on the panoramic river. A lot of what draws me to Madison is the wonderful architecture; we have everything from Italian to Greek Revival to Frank Lloyd Wright. But the riverbank is my favorite spot.
Related: Check out our guide about things to do in Madison Indiana – the beautiful, historical hidden gem that is an absolute must-visit for your next midwestern road trip! Click here to read the full getaway guide.
I don’t want to stray too far off course, but speaking of architecture, you have an Airbnb called the Fashion House on Central – tell us a little bit about it!
The Fashion House on Central celebrated its birthday with the state of Indiana in 2016 – it’s over 200 years old. We recreated the past with the present with this house. It’s very posh but we did keep some of the elements – lighting, beautiful plaster ceilings – we really just tried to enhance the natural beauty. We gave it new life.
So here on Color & Curiosity, we’re built on the mission of looking at travel as a lifelong learning tool. Speaking of travel, do you look at travel as an educational tool? And where have you traveled that you feel you’ve learned the most?
I’ve been pretty busy with some other projects, but I did take a month off a couple years ago and traveled all throughout Europe – and especially the south of Frances. I never wanted to come home because I was in love. My son was living in Madrid – Spain was just so beautiful – and absolutely just so authentic. From the cathedrals to the art to the culture, it’s just wonderful. And others – Monte Carlo, and Cannes, and St. Tropez – these are my favorite places on earth. So I have a few favorite places, but it was so memorable because I took so long to do it. You know – when you walk everywhere and just appreciate every moment.
Do you have any tips for learning while traveling – how to build it into your itinerary, or a go-to that you look for?
In Europe I would always talk to people on the streets and find someone I could resonate with. And as I would converse I would build up a conversation with them, and I felt like there was a connection, and then I would trust them. Sometimes I’d go through a few people before I could trust them, but I’d never follow the tour guide. I found this beautiful place in Italy called Lucca – it was just totally private. It was like it wasn’t real because it was so beautiful. And someone just told me about it. We went there and it was everything they said it would be – but I’d never heard anything about it. I think word of mouth, especially talking to others who have traveled, is your best bet.
It’s so interesting – I’ve heard comments from people, when I ask how they enjoy learning about a destination – they’ll say talking to people. And then you brought up this interesting idea of trust. It can be really scary to talk to strangers. Do you have any advice on striking up conversations, or how to develop trust?
If you go to places that resonate with you, you’re going to find similarities with people – tastes, things that you like that they probably like too.
Getting inspired through others! So, speaking of inspiration, what’s the best thing you’ve ever brought home with you – whether an actual souvenir, an idea, an attitude, a perspective?
It would be a few things – passion, inspiration, style, culture – the sophistication of people, the way they live. I love the relaxed lifestyle – to have the siestas – they literally go home at lunch and come back around 3:30. They go in at 9, they work until 6:30 or 7 – but their life is not so rushed. I think they live longer, they’re happier, they eat healthier, they have more time to take vacations with their family, and just appreciate being alive. It’s just so different here. We’re so rushed, we’re not as friendly to our neighbors. We live this life – we drive away, go to work. And then we drive into our garage and go back inside. It’s like we live in a cave. And we don’t explore, because we’re so busy. That’s not a healthy way to live.