Meet Sisters Alex Snodgrass, of The Defined Dish, and Madison Lavey, of Mada Leigh Blog
Tell us about your businesses.
Alex: I am the creator/founder of the popular food blog and social media outlet, The Defined Dish. At my blog, you’ll find mostly better-for-you weeknight meals that any level of cook can accomplish and enjoy in their kitchen. I am so proud of the community that I have built on my page + very excited to announce my first cookbook coming out at the end of this year!
Madison: I have a motherhood, and a natural living focused blog, Mada Leigh Blog. I don’t think there are a lot of bloggers out there that share what I do daily. I focus on sharing clean recipes for babies and kids, cleaning up your household ingredients to live a more non-toxic lifestyle. Most importantly, I share our day to day with my daughter, Temple, and I’m actually pregnant, and due in March to another baby girl! I share the struggles of motherhood and try to give all the tips and things I learn along the way to help your journey into parenthood or to clean up your skincare cabinet with products that aren’t harming you or the environment!!! You get a little bit of everything on my page!
I am most proud when I get messages from others that have changed to more non-toxic products, decided on a natural birth after reading my birth story, or have followed all my toddler recipes, and their kids are eating better than ever! It warms my heart to know I am helping even one person to live a happier and healthier lifestyle!
How did you and your sister get started?
Madison: I’ve always been into health and wellness. I was a pilates instructor and personal trainer since my senior year in college. I had a blog back in college, but it wasn’t something where I fully committed. It was more of a hobby to share healthy things here and there. After college, Alex and I both moved to Dallas, and we are VERY close, like crazy close! She was a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), and I was training. I told her I wanted to start a blog again, and we decided why not do it together?! That is how The Defined Dish started! I was going to focus on the fitness side and her on the food- hence the name, The Defined Dish. After a few years, I moved for a short time away from Dallas, was newly married, and my husband and I were trying to start a family. I felt the blog was focusing more on food, which is where Alex excels. It was hard to find our voice as two sisters trying to manage one blog. I told Alex she should continue, but I was going to take a break and start something on my own with more of my passions.
Since then, Alex has taken The Defined Dish and made it something amazing and her own! I started my blog, Mada Leigh (my nickname), right after I had my daughter about a year and a half ago. I love that we both have our pages to share our passions, but we can still work together and support one another! She’s all about the food, and I’m all about motherhood and holistic living! We both focus on overall health, and I think we’ve found our voices in this crazy social media world. It’s hard when you first start, and it’s taken Alex years for her brand to become what it is today. My page is much newer, and I feel like I’m just getting into the rhythm and finding my voice and what my community loves to see from me. I love having Alex to help guide me along the way- that’s what big sisters are for, right?!
We’re both so lucky to live close, raise our children together, and be able to lean on one another. Yes, we are sister, but we’re best friends. We’ve always got each other’s backs.
Alex: My sister, Madison, now runs her own blog MadaLeighblog.com, but she and I originally started The Defined Dish together back in 2014. We started it as a food and fitness blog, I was more of the food guru, and Madison the fitness guru. We were new to the blogging industry and the focus of the blog just quickly shifted to food. Madison decided that while she loves food, the blog had shifted in a direction that wasn’t true to her + she was getting married that year, and she decided to no longer be a part of The Defined Dish. That’s when I really rebranded the site and made it my full-time job.
Once Madison got married and had her first child, she decided to start a blog to focus on her own passions at MadaLeighblog.com; where she focuses on holistic health + wellness and just all things lifestyle! She has only been doing it for about 2 years and it’s taking off quickly!!
What’s it like working with your sister?
Alex: My sister and I are best friends. We can always be honest with each other and we always have a way of balancing each other out. Madison is much more organized while Alex is the more “creative” type and can be…. well, a little all over the place! Ha! It helps when Alex has ideas, Madison can actually put them in motion.
Madison: THE BEST! We can collaborate and do things together which is always fun but we also have our own pages so that we can share our individual passions. We pretty much do everything together! The best part is living close to each other and being able to bounce ideas off one another. I look up to Alex is every way. We’ve always been so close and I am so proud of the brand she’s created. I love that I can turn to her with all the questions!
Are you and your sister similar or different? How does that help your business?
Madison: We have a lot of similarities. It’s pretty funny because people always know we are sisters by our voices and mannerisms. We pretty much sound identical! We are similar in that we are both very athletic and deeply care about health and wellness. We even went to the same college and haven’t even lived far from one another. We’re pretty much inseparable.
We are different in many ways too. I am much more organized, but I’d say Alex is more creative – especially in the kitchen! She can think of the most amazing recipes. We both care deeply about overall health, but I’m more into a nontoxic and holistic lifestyle.
Can you share a funny childhood story about you and your sister?
Alex: When I think about Madison as a kid, I can just see her outside with her figurines, a costume on, and a purse on her shoulder talking to a tree or something! She had the biggest imagination!
Madison: I always think about summertime when it comes to our childhood. We giggle when we think about all the dance routines we would make up to the “Jock Jams” CD outside by the pool. We would do cheer routines in the water to every song on that album. Then, we would go inside and make popcorn chicken in the fryer (super healthy haha), then it was back to the pool for another routine! 🙂
What’s your funniest story in working with your sister?
Madison: Looking back at the start of The Defined Dish is pretty funny. We didn’t know what the heck we were doing but that’s part of growing, finding your voice, and learning how to take photos that didn’t look absolutely horrible haha! We would post the most random things and we giggle when we see old photos on our computers.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your business to date?
Alex: That you have to be flexible and shift gears. Just because I’ve operated in the past a certain way, does not mean it makes sense to me today. I’ve learned that change can be overwhelming, but it means that I am growing and that I have to be willing to make changes to allow my business to continue to grow and prosper!
Madison: It takes so much time to find your voice and what you really love sharing. When I started Mada Leigh, I thought I would mainly be sharing about nontoxic skincare, home, etc. But now it’s grown into more motherhood. Most of my community are mothers or those trying to conceive. My kid recipes and all things baby and mom are the real focus of my page.
What has been the biggest challenge along the way?
Alex: I’d have to say the emotions. I am so passionate about my business and my community, that I really take things way too personally. Not to mention, the nature of my job on social media makes me very vulnerable by putting myself and my family out there. I cry a lot, haha.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur who is just starting out?
Madison: Just go for it! Stop finding excuses or caring what others think. Don’t look to what others are doing and find what works for you. I think Alex and I have great communities because we are always authentic and we are sharing what we love. When you share your passion, it comes easy!
Alex: You gotta start somewhere! If you would have seen my blog when I originally started, it was a hot mess. Horrible, dark, brown food photos, shitty recipe instructions, and just no consistency. But with time, I was able to hone and focus on my craft. If you have a passion and want to do something, just go do it. You’ll make it happen if you really want it.
How are you finding balance?
Alex: I don’t conform to any idea that includes the word “balance” anymore. I don’t think “balance” exists! While I try my best to set boundaries and create structure in my life, I also have come to realize that every week looks different, each month looks different, and the only way to get through while also maintaining my sanity is to just be flexible.
Madison: I make sure to take the time to focus on me, too. That can be hard when you’re a mother but I find time to work out, get a prenatal massage, and relax with my family. Work is so fun, but you have to find that balance or it becomes something you aren’t enjoying anymore.
What have we not asked you that you want to say about entrepreneurship, sisters, business advice?
Alex: Without my sister, The Defined Dish wouldn’t exist. Not only because we never would have started it together– but she has always been my biggest support system and shoulder to lean on.
Madison is always there for me when I need to vent about something I am upset about, she is always there when I need someone to test a recipe for me, and she always there to bounce ideas off of when I need her. She is the most loyal, trust worthy, loving person I know and I seriously can’t imagine my life without her. (okay now I am crying).
Madison: I’d just say that without my sister, Alex, I don’t know where I would be. I am so excited to have another daughter, because I know she will have a little best friend forever.
Madison: Mesero (Tex-Mex is everything!!!)
Favorite spot to hang out with your sister?
Alex: The mall!
Madison: At her house, drinking wine, having an amazing homemade meal that she whips up!
Favorite place to work out?
Both: Vive Personal Training
Alex: One Love Organics Cleansing Oil
Madison: Vitners Daughter Active Botanical Serum
Favorite road trip?
Both: Austin, Texas