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From MBA Grad to Entrepreneurial Jewellery Maven

In a world where adversity threatened to dim her light, Maya’s journey stands as a testament to the unwavering strength of the human spirit. Born into privilege yet thrust into hardship at a tender age, Maya’s resilience became her guiding force. Raised by a single mother in the face of abandonment, she weathered the storm of societal expectations and bullying, emerging with a resolve that would shape her destiny.

Can you share more about your upbringing and the challenges you faced growing up without a father figure in Asian society? 

Growing up in a single-parent household proved to be challenging, particularly in the absence of any male figures. From the age of four, my mother raised my two sisters and me on her own. In the Asian community, girls from such backgrounds often find themselves devoid of agency, expected to conform to predetermined paths and accept whatever fate presents. Sadly, individuals sought to exploit my mother’s single status and our family composition. Remarrying was deemed unlikely for her, as few were willing to take on the responsibility of a single mother with three daughters. Married men propositioned my mother, seeking extramarital relationships under the guise of offering support. Additionally, well-meaning acquaintances proposed marriage alliances with their relatives in India, viewing us as a means to secure British citizenship, as if our lack of a father made us unsuitable for their sons or other British suitors. The experience was deeply unsettling, highlighting society’s lack of regard for individuals without paternal figures, relegating us to a position of diminished respect, and implying that we should be grateful for whatever scraps society decides to offer us.

How did your early experiences, including being bullied throughout your school life, shape your decision to halt your education after A’Levels?

The torment I endured at school persisted from year 4 through my A-levels. Despite changing schools, the bullying followed me relentlessly as individuals spread hateful remarks and derogatory names, ensuring the cycle continued. Initially, I was a cheerful and resilient individual, but as the bullying persisted into my teenage years, it took a toll on my mental well-being, causing me to lose focus on my studies, career ambitions, and self-confidence. By the time I reached the end of my A-levels, the relentless abuse became unbearable, compounded by worsening financial circumstances at home. With little desire to pursue further education and a need to support my family, I took over my mother’s travel agency, stepping into a role I hadn’t anticipated.

Could you elaborate on your diverse career trajectory, spanning technology, film, and entrepreneurship, and how you transitioned between these fields?

Since I didn’t pursue university and instead joined the family business, the prospect of entering the corporate world seemed dim despite my diverse capabilities and skills. I embarked on my journey as a recruitment consultant, placing operational staff in Royal Mail’s warehouse. Intrigued by the technical roles within the recruitment firm’s IT subsidiary, I applied and successfully convinced the hiring manager of my suitability for the position, kickstarting my career in IT contracting. Alongside, I ventured into the Indian film and theatre industry and participated in numerous fashion shows. The passion for films originated from my family links to the Bollywood industry . Climbing the ladder from an IT service desk analyst to managing programs in major financial institutions, I still harboured entrepreneurial ambitions. One fateful night, I had a dream that inspired me to establish my own jewellery business specialising in diamonds. Thus, Riari J’Dorn, a fine jewellery brand, was born in 2014. While continuing to work in the technology sector, I transitioned into civil services and working towards building an IT Consultancy. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in cinema and television, and what were some of your notable experiences as a lead actress in a Punjabi film? 

Coming from a family deeply rooted in the film and television industry, my connection to the world of cinema runs deep within me. With a natural inclination towards acting and dancing, I found myself drawn to Bollywood, aspiring for a career in this vibrant field. The experience of starring as the main lead in a movie was truly remarkable. Traveling across the enchanting locales of Amritsar in India for filming, was an unforgettable privilege. Additionally, being able to showcase my dancing skills in a few song sequences within the film added an extra layer of enjoyment to the filming process.

How did your entrepreneurial spirit lead you to establish ventures such as a travel agency, a PR hosting company, and a tech consultancy? 

My father, a businessman with a penchant for various ventures, instilled in me a similar entrepreneurial instinct. Fueled by a relentless drive and a fervent desire to succeed, I harbour aspirations of becoming a business tycoon. Drawing inspiration from my mother’s career in the travel industry, I developed a keen interest in the field, gaining valuable experience working with major airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Gulf Air, Emirates and many more. 

Starting as a hostess in my early years, I eventually ventured into entrepreneurship, establishing my own PR Hostess company. My fascination with technology has been a constant passion throughout my life, driving me to avidly research and explore emerging solutions and gadgets. Leveraging my expertise in technology, I ventured into e-commerce and technology consultancy, carving out a niche for myself in this dynamic industry.

What was the pivotal moment that led you to discover your passion for jewellery, ultimately leading to the founding of Riari J’Dorn?

A dream sparked the inception of Riari J’Dorn. One night, I had a vivid dream that illuminated my path, leading me to the realisation that diamonds were my calling. The next morning, with newfound clarity, I embarked on extensive research, formulated proposals, brainstormed names, and meticulously pieced together the company. Equipping myself with knowledge in gemmology, I delved into understanding the intricacies of diamonds. Then, fueled by determination, I journeyed to Antwerp, the heart of the diamond trade, to embark on the next chapter of my venture.

Despite facing personal challenges, such as the end of your marriage in 2021, how did you maintain your focus on your daughter and your entrepreneurial ambitions?

The dissolution of my marriage dealt a devastating blow, plunging me into a whirlwind of health challenges: bradycardia causing my heart rate to plummet, and stress-induced swelling in my head. Faced with these obstacles, I felt compelled to rise and rebuild myself from the ground up. It was almost as if I underwent a peculiar metamorphosis, a belated coming-of-age journey. Despite being at the age of maturity, I realised I had yet to truly mature, having become overly reliant on my ex-spouse, sacrificing my independence in the process. My initial focus was on self-improvement, learning the importance of prioritising my own needs — a concept I had previously dismissed. Through the navigation of some of my darkest moments, I came to understand the significance of self-love and the necessity of breaking free from co-dependency. Embracing the mantra “the show must go on,” I summoned the strength to rise again, shifting my focus to my daughters’ well-being and nurturing them, while also reclaiming my own identity as Maya.

Can you discuss your approach to balancing the demands of running a business with the responsibilities of raising two daughters?

Focus is my path to success. I see life my goals as darts, eyes fixed on the dartboard, hands steady, awaiting the opportune moment to release. As a fervent mother, I hold steadfast to my values, ethics, and morals, believing wholeheartedly in the paramount importance of instilling the right principles in my children for a resilient future. Drawing from my upbringing, I understand the vital role a solid foundation and unconditional love play, a foundation I lacked but strive to provide for my daughters. Despite the challenges, I meticulously outline plans for their future, often sacrificing sleep to compensate for unfinished tasks. Driven by my unwavering commitment to both my career and my daughters, I navigate long hours with a laser focus on balancing business demands and nurturing my children. This dedication stems from a profound love and an unyielding sense of responsibility to nurture and fortify the loving environment my girls deserve.

In what ways does your story exemplify resilience, passion pursuit, and unwavering strength in the face of adversity?

With only 36 years of life experience, I have weathered monumental storms, encountering a myriad of challenges across various facets of life. This underscores my resilience and unwavering determination to confront obstacles head-on, refusing to succumb even when the odds seemed insurmountable. From a tender age, I grappled with significant adversity, enduring bullying in school, workplace discrimination, and tumultuous times within my marriage. These trials instilled within me a profound inner strength to navigate life’s hardships with fortitude, despite my youthfulness. My professional trajectory reflects my relentless drive and unwavering passion for success and goal achievement. Lacking the opportunity to pursue a university education and obtain a degree only fueled my resolve to never give up. In 2021, I embarked on obtaining an MBA, overcoming the hurdle of not having an undergraduate degree. Through leveraging my extensive managerial experience in the corporate realm, I successfully persuaded the university to consider my application, ultimately securing acceptance into the program.

Despite facing challenges, I maintain solid foundations to forge a future for myself and my daughters. This is achieved without seeking sympathy or portraying myself as a victim of hardship, but rather as an inspiration for others to avoid succumbing to despair and instead support each other in becoming resilient against life’s trials.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for the future, both personally and professionally?

Personally, my goal is to establish a solid financial foundation for my daughters, while also aspiring to find my true life partner to embark on a renewed journey together. I am committed to providing my daughters with a top-tier education, offering them access to various clubs, and skill-building opportunities, and fostering a tranquil lifestyle. On the professional front, my aspirations include owning a physical diamond store, a hotel and establishing a thriving IT consultancy firm, with the ultimate aim of listing it on the London Stock Exchange.

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