One of the things we love most about our career series is the ability to showcase that not everyone has the same path. Being entrepreneurial might be in your blood but a solid career foundation can be the perfect springboard to launching your own thing. That’s the case for Maddy, founder of MADLY Gems, based in Singapore…
HOC: Hello Maddy! Tell us about your journey to being an entrepreneur?
Maddy: The seed was planted in me by my dad who worked in a bank most of his life and was responsible for approving bank loans and helping many small businesses get a head start. Growing up, I’d hear stories of all kinds of business ventures, what he thought made a sound or not so viable one, and why some succeeded while others didn’t.
But it wasn’t until I met my husband 15 years ago that I felt that I was ready to take on the challenges of running a business, which I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to do alone. Two businesses, in fact, when we were living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. MADLY is our 3rd venture together. He’s always been my advisor and confidante, and he’s great in areas I’m weak at (vice versa) so we make a pretty formidable team, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
I think it is important in any business to NOT do it alone and to find mature, like-minded people with complementary skills to plug all the holes and fill every gap. No one can do it all and everyone’s role is different, and this diversity should be embraced.
HOC: Amazing and when did MADLY come into being?
Maddy: MADLY came into being late 2014 and started with just myself and one designer working out of a bedroom/home office! I was the ‘hustler’ who got the word out, told everyone what we are about; and got every friend and family member to custom make something for themselves or loved one.
I don’t think I had any expectations for MADLY at that point, except to share my love for beautiful gemstone jewellery which the local market was, and still is very new to, and create a new shopping experience for jewellery lovers.
HOC: What else was happening for you when you started this business?
Maddy: I also hold a full time job as a breakfast show radio presenter, so it’s tough juggling 2 jobs and motherhood!
The business grew organically and just took on a life of its own and we had to put in more resources to cope with the growth. For instance, we had to upgrade our premises thrice to cope with the growth since we needed more space for more designers!
HOC: And how has MADLY grown since then?
Maddy: You could say MADLY just took on a life of its own and became larger than any one person or designer as it is with many bespoke jewellery outfits. I kind of like that, because that gives us variety and diversity – with each designer having their unique sense of style; and affinity to different fashion of jewellery designs.
So depending on a client’s style, we try to match the client to the designer so there in synergy. The more a client is able to tell us about his/her likes and dislikes etc the better we are able to pair them with a designer that shares similar style because jewellery is personal and totally subjective!
HOC: Sounds like an exciting place to be. What does being a Girl Boss mean to you?
Maddy: To me, it’s a mindset and attitude rather than a position or role. You don’t actually have to own a business to be a #girlboss. A great leader or manager who takes care of her team and takes ownership of her decisions, good or bad is a boss in her own right.
In my mind, a Girl Boss understands what is important to the success of the company (whether or not she owns it or works for it) and does not sweat the small things.
HOC: Business culture seems very important to you, what is the MADLY culture like?
Maddy: MADLY is not your average workplace. We work with only the finest gemstones and craftsmen in the world, meaning that we are very serious about what we do, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously! We know that you’ve got to have fun at work and we value this equally!
HOC: You clearly have an entrepreneurial soul, what advice do you have for them to start their own thing?
Maddy: To me, true success is being able to do what you love and use your strengths every day while being paid for it!
It doesn’t necessarily culminate in owning a business because not everyone is cut out for it. If starting your own business is what you really want, then you need to ask yourself which part of the puzzle are you?
Bearing in mind your strengths and weaknesses, are you comfortable to lead, because every business like an organisation needs a good leader. Or, are you better off finding a partner or hiring someone to run the business while you do what you’re really good at?
Almost every entrepreneur I meet forgets to ask that very crucial question and every company needs a leader but the fact is, not everyone wants or likes to lead, and there are brilliant people who make very lousy leaders, yet make/create the absolute best product. A business isn’t there for you to prove your worth but to serve a purpose and fill a need. It’s not about you, but rather about those you hope to serve.
HOC: Looking forward, what does 2019/2020 have in store for you and for your brand?
We are looking at bringing the MADLY experience overseas by next year and have a few locations in mind. I just need to decide where would be the first launch pad outside of Singapore and then see where it goes….
My plan is to over-prepare and then go with the flow! Now, I just need to find the time to make it happen and if it’s meant to be, it will be!
Follow Maddy’s business at @MADLYGems