From radio DJ at Kiss92 to bonafide business woman at Madly Gems. Maddy opens up about the joys and struggles she’s experienced in her journey of life.

“My husband had this running joke. Everyone gets the vibrant, jovial and happy Maddy, but he gets the grumpy wife! I find it really hilarious. I’d laugh thinking about it sometimes.

For a long time, it felt like the best of Maddy was taken, and my family got whatever that’s left of me. I was a radio DJ, and on some days, I’d find myself talking for 12 to 14 hours non-stop, that by the end of the day I’m tapped out to the point where I can’t even breathe.

Dedicating myself to my family, radio gigs, and jewellery business MADLY Gems meant giving my all or nothing. And they truly deserved my all, but at times, it felt like I had given so much of myself during the day, that by the time I got home, I had nothing else to give.

And home is the only time and place I get to recuperate. So there were definitely times where I would fall off the face of the earth for a couple of days, just to recharge and bounce back, ready to take on the world again.

Though I was spread out thinly, the love that I had for my family, radio and gemstones powered me through the long – and at times difficult – days. And I’m so fortunate to have a family that’s really such a good sport, because I truly could not have done this without them.

They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and my family and I really treasure moments when we are together reconnecting and spending quality time together. We’re now more bonded than ever.

So while radio will always be my first love, I left because I also truly believe in taking care of your own first. And that starts with the self. My family hardly ever gets the fully-powered up Maddy, and while I still have it in me, they should also have the best of me.

For many years, doing the Kiss92 Breakfast show at 6am meant zooming out of the house and going straight to work. Now, I have the opportunity to soak in the little things that many of us, without realising, take for granted and is, in fact, a privilege.

For example, I can relish my mornings and enjoy them with my loved ones over breakfast before they head off and start the day. I even had the opportunity recently to send my daughter to school in my pyjamas!

Jokes aside, radio has made me who I am today, both personally and professionally. Imagine seeing your colleagues first thing every morning for 10 years! You work so closely and you’ve seen the best and worst in each other – it definitely felt like a marriage.

And just like in my own marriage, I genuinely believe that your success is very much pegged to a supportive spouse. In fact, if it wasn’t for the support of my husband who is also my business partner, MADLY Gems would not have been the powerhouse that it is today.

We constantly have conversations about balancing between being a colleague and a spouse. We take turns to draw the line when it gets overwhelming for either one of us, and stop each other when we start talking about work at home.

I must stress though, the love that I have for gemstones – just like the love I had for radio – is important. If I was miserable at work, I could not have pulled this off. Even at MADLY Gems, I always tell my girls to take our work seriously without taking ourselves too seriously.

Searching for engagement rings, or a jeweller that understands you, can be daunting. But MADLY Gems is more than just about selling; it’s about going that extra mile to find the piece of jewellery that is unique to our client and reflects who they are.

For a piece of bespoke jewellery to speak to you, I as a seller must firstly connect with you and get to know you. What motivates you? What personality do you embody? What would the bespoke piece mean to you and your family?

Perfection takes time. It’s so often that I tell my girls to pause during the consultation process and allow the clients to process the choices and designs in front of them. And hardly ever do we have clients walking away with buyers’ remorse.

It always gives us the greatest satisfaction when a wedded couple returns to create heirloom pieces to be passed on to their daughters, or when a mother-daughter duo comes in to create a one-true-pairing of bespoke jewellery that is unique to them. 

Looking back, I can say that radio was never a safety net for me, because how can your first love be a safety net? It was a security blanket that anchored and grounded me, but at the same time allowed me to take a leap in exploring other business opportunities.

I always tell young entrepreneurs, don’t be too quick to quit your day job. Juggling two jobs for seven years allowed me to make rational and informed decisions. Not only did I become a wise business owner, it made me realise that I can’t and shouldn’t do this alone.

Radio gave me my calling, that I should spread joy and laughter wherever I go, and to make a difference, one life a day. And that’s exactly our philosophy at MADLY Gems – to spread joy and beauty and make a difference in a person’s life, one bespoke piece at a time.” –  Maddy Barber

Interview by: Nur Hidayah Abidin


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