Founder of This is For Andy, USYD Bachelor of Commerce student and longstanding member of SUSF, Maddie King, shares generously about her health journey, business, and aspirations for 2021.
Before we get stuck into it, what’s your honest coffee order?
Oh gosh. I’m such a coffee snob. My hot coffee is an oat cappuccino and if it’s a cold coffee, either a cold brew with a dash of oat or just a straight cold brew. The cold brew must be a light, fresh roast with a fruity filter.
Wow, you really know your coffee! You’ve been a member of Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness for several years now. What has kept you here at SUSF?
At first, it was all about the convenience, but that has changed over time. There’s something about the energy in the place that’s easy to love. People aren’t here to show off, everything you need in terms of equipment is provided and the gym’s spaciousness is always nice to have.
However, what really got me was the rig installation at the Sports & Aquatic Centre. I thought, this is the best thing ever! I am really into functional training, so I knew I’d be able to play with the equipment. I love to play, and SUSF lets me do that.
We have been following you closely and admire your willingness to be so open with us about your cancer journey. You recently finished treatment for Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. What has this journey been like for you?
It has been the hardest thing I have been through, but at the same time because I have become so integrated with the cancer community, I acknowledge it’s a difficult thing to go through for “people my age.” After my first treatment, I remember looking in the mirror and questioning whether I would ever be happy again. In those moments, you can’t fathom the life you used to live versus the life you now have.
I’m so lucky that my cancer was treatable, I’m not physically impaired in any way, and I have recovered well. I haven’t been given a life-limiting prognosis like many of my friends have and I’m hyperaware of it. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I’m working through like my mental health, but it won’t stop me from doing what I want in life.
As I finished treatment, I began to get fragments of my life back including my hair and energy. Having hit rock bottom, there is a newfound appreciation of life. This journey has allowed me to strip back the various superficial things I once cared about.
Amid everything happening in your life, you launched your own business This is For Andy. Talk me through that.
I’ve always wanted to have my own business since I was 15 years old. That came from the love of entrepreneurship and listening to people like Tim Ferris and Guy Raz who opened my eyes to the concept that business shouldn’t only be a means to make money but a means to create value.
I recognised that cancer patients are fundamentally not cared for by fashion products on the market. Trying to find accessories and beauty products that suited me was difficult. The idea of This is For Andy was born out of my experience.
The brand is a homage to all the wonderful cancer girls who inspired and supported me through my diagnosis, as without them, none of this could have come to fruition. One girl’s story, Andy, touched me so much that I named and dedicated the brand to her after she passed away from leukaemia in January 2020.
Along with the launch of my business, I partnered with an organisation called Zero Childhood Cancer that run clinical trials and genetic research for incurable children’s cancer; 10% of the profits generated through my business is donated to this charity.
Truth is, you lose a lot of people in the cancer community, but hearing feedback from customers like “I haven’t felt like myself in so long but wearing your scarf makes me feel beautiful” is exactly what I wanted to create. It reminds me that I have created something that has sentimental value.
Photo Credit: Natalie Koval for Pink Hope
We saw on your Instagram that you recently became a qualified pilates instructor. What do you love most about it?
I love to play with movement and especially on something like the reformer. I’m constantly surprised by all the different ways that I can use it. Not only is it the perfect supplement to my weight training but it allows me to be creative, work up a solid sweat and share that experience with other people.
With the current demands on your life between your health, business and study, how do you find balance?
By default, my health and fitness come first, and then I can focus on everything else. I know that if my health isn’t in check, I can’t give myself fully to my business or study. It’s less about finding balance and more so a matter of how to use my time effectively when I’m not moving.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Challenging myself and my business in every single way. I am looking forward to a year that isn’t crowded with fear, anxiety and stress all the time. I really want to get back to feeling like myself again and falling in love with my life again.
How can people follow you?
Personal account: @mxddieking
This is For Andy: @thisisforandy or www.thisisforandy.com