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Wendy Madden worked with her husband for 14 years before romantic sparks started to fly.
The former Wendy Ballew was one of Steve Madden’s first employees and even shared a desk with him. “I did everything at the start,” she recalled, from answering phones to writing shipping labels.
The exec quickly became dependent on her efficiency and expertise. “When I would go away for Christmas, he’d call me back early,” she said. “Things wouldn’t get done if I wasn’t there.”
By the time Madden went to jail in 2002, he and Ballew had grown to be close friends and she visited him regularly in jail. It was during his prison stint that the romance blossomed.
Now, after four years of marriage and a set of twins, Madden still heads to the office every day as director of operations. And her husband has also entrusted her with the task of serving as employee liaison. “I’m [Steve’s] connection to the staff, and vice versa. As wife of the founder, I find myself able to have a positive impact.”
Like her husband, Madden’s favorite part of the business is interacting with people. Attending footwear shows is a highlight for the couple. “Steve’s very hands-on,” said Madden. “At the shows, he’s constantly working. His role hasn’t changed [regarding] what he gets involved in, he just gets involved more.”
She added, “He’s a shoe king. He has a passion that shows through in everything he touches. Others dip their toe in the water; he does a cannonball.”