Maddy Barber: DJ, Mum Entrepreneur

Maddy Barber Madly Gems
Maddy Barber Madly Gems

Since young, Maddy has always had the go getter mentality and a can do attitude. She started off at 98.7FM, starred in movie Forever Fever with Pierre Png, Adrian Pang and even worked in Mumbai and Bangkok.

   Maddy is one of the most sought after emcees and regularly speaks at all kinds of events, from product launches to corporate showcases. She is not only a DJ at Kiss92 but also the assistant programme director there. Her cheerful, bubbly voice and playful personality is one of the reasons why many people are keeping their radio on in the morning.

   She is a true LadyBoss, managing a successful career as a DJ and Emcee but also running her own fine jewellery business Madly Gems. Madly Gems however isn’t her first business, she has business experience even before Madly.

Real Estate Business

Maddy was always interested in business, especially in pretty things. When she was in Bangkok, she was the co-founder of Infinity Holdings Co Ltd, which provided residential Real Estate solutions for property buyers, sellers, lessors and lessees. There she was involved in marketing beautiful homes, helping many clients find their perfect abode.

Her strong perseverance attitude could be seen in her deal making of properties. Maddy is natural salesperson, charismatic and driven.

“My husband and I engaged Maddy to find a place for us while we were in Bangkok. We were very pleased with the outcome as she found the perfect place for us, the babies and our dog. The landlady initially didn’t want to rent it to us, but Maddy persevered. Landlady finally gave in!” one of her clients mentioned.

“My husband complains a lot but he is very patient and supportive. All the men in my life ask me to slow down”

All Things Rare and Sparkling

Like all women, Maddy loves her jewels and following her entrepreneurial bug, Maddy considered making jewellery boxes. However it wasn’t until she co founded Madly Gems with her partner Emily Tan that she found the perfect marriage of her love for beautiful gemstones and her interest in business.

“Often I’d walk into a jewellery store and see something nice but not totally ‘me,’ then walk away wishing I could make slight tweaks to it just to call it my own.” Madly Gems does just that, taking precious gemstones and customising one of a kind jewellery piece. No two pieces are ever the same and that gives customers confidence to pay a premium for their services.

  Maddy first met Emily when Emily was still working as a designer with a fine jeweller in Singapore specialising in custom made pieces. While Maddy did not have the expertise, she was passionate in the business and has a strong business acumen. Together, they make excellent partners, combining technical expertise, business skills and public visibility of Maddy’s personal brand.

  Maddy is certainly the voice of Madly as she often jokes about how Singaporeans spend way too much bags and shoes, “why go out and buy a luxury handbag which can only be used for sometime before it gets worn out when you can get precious gems that can last several lifetimes and increase in value over time?”

“There’s something very poetic about wearing a rock that has been sitting around in the earth for millions of years until it finally finds a place on your hand”

  However, public perception of gemstones still need quite a lot education as they are not as prevalent. Most people are still used to diamonds as engagement rings, but precious gemstones can also be used as well in engagement rings. In her own words, “There’s something very poetic about wearing a rock that has been sitting around in the earth for millions of years until it finally finds a place on your hand”.

  While both Maddy and Emily are quite easy going, there are always times when disagreements will come up. “We are both creative and volatile and there will be times when we don’t see eye to eye.”

  The key to making a business partnership work is to be clear on roles and responsibilities. Maddy focuses on accounts, marketing, business development and public relations while Emily takes care of daily operations, sales and design.

  When it comes to differences of opinion, there is really no point for Maddy to second guess Emily on designs while Emily will generally differ to Maddy with regards to all marketing and PR matters.

Maddy Barber Madly Gems
Maddy Barber Madly Gems

Challenges of Balancing Every Commitment

Apart from Madly, DJ career and emcee, Maddy is also a mum with 2 daughters, Alicia 10 and Elizabeth 19. Juggling family, business and career is really tough and she hardly gets time to rest.

  Maddy’s husband Wez Barber is a savvy businessman and owns a web franchise in UK as well as marketing company in Australia. Being focused on operations and numbers, he often helps Maddy in developing business plans.

  “My husband complains a lot but he is very patient and supportive. All the men in my life ask me to slow down”, she says referring to her co-hosts Jason and Arnold. Sometimes we all need a gentle reminder to slow down to reduce the risk of burning out.

  With the wild success of Kiss92 FM’s morning breakfast show, she is landing more gigs than she can handle and may have to look at reducing that to focus more on Madly instead.

Early Success For Madly Gems

Being a celebrity, Maddy has a natural wide reach both in her personal network and social media. She was able to leapfrog Madly’s business through majority social media and word of mouth.

  The women who have attained reasonable success often are curious and start developing interest in higher quality items and Madly’s product range are perfect for them. What better way to reward yourself than a beautiful bespoke unique jewellery piece?

  “Madly Gems has been very fortunate, we are doing well and results have been better than projected.” The workload is keeping them busy already so they are looking to hire full time staff to grow the business. However, they are mindful to not overexpand and instead grow at a steady pace so they can maintain or attain even higher quality of work.

  When asked if they will consider opening a store, Maddy replied that their business model is not retail, but more of a private jeweller. There are a lot of costs in retail and they don’t want to compromise quality just to achieve sales volume.

  It is certainly a right decision as it helps them to keep overheads low, allowing them to focus on producing higher quality products at fair prices. However, they are expanding their range to include ready made as well.

 Advice For Women Looking to Start Their Own Business

Maddy’s advice for women looking to run their business is not to leave your full time job and take your time to find a suitable partner. Ideally, he or she will be able to complement your skills.  “Being an entrepreneur is very lonely, it is far more fun if you can find somebody to do it together.” – LB

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Written By

Jackie Yeo is the co-founder of Ladyboss. She is an internet marketing specialist who focuses on helping clients build and manage their online presence. Jackie is also a strong advocate of women's rights and is keen to promote entrepreneurship among women. Outside work, she's a self-professed foodie and an avid dancer.

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