For these Clover merchants, being a couple working together often means sharing a common vision for the business, but dividing actual duties clearly and playing to each partner’s strengths. Here are 3 tips for building a business with a loved one from real-life Clover couples who work together.
For Tina and John Pressley of My Mobility Medics in Greenville, SC, the division of labor within their home medical equipment company is clear. John is a lifelong tinkerer who has always loved fixing things, which is why they started their business as a repair shop for mobility equipment. Tina focuses on making connections in the community and drumming up business. “I was a corporate trainer by trade, so it’s no problem for me to walk in and propose talking to residents about a subject that interests them,” she says.
Ricky Barragan, of Ricky Styles Studio in Seattle, WA, says that working with his husband, Jose Zerpa, has actually improved their relationship, in part because they each play to their separate strengths. “We both know our roles in the business. I’m the master stylist. I have the vision as far as how we want to do hair. Jose is super tech-savvy and analytical. He’s our numbers guy,” Ricky says.
He adds, “We have more respect for one another now that we’re working together. We recognize that we’re each trying to do our part to make this business a big success. I think that’s made our relationship, on a personal level, a lot stronger.”
Building a business together isn’t always Plan A. Whitney and Phil Mayhew, of Broken Spoke Boutique in Valentine, NE, didn’t expect to find themselves living in the small town where Phil grew up. “We never anticipated ever coming here,” Whitney says. “Like, it’s in the middle of nowhere, there’s no shopping.” But they’ve made it work—and shared the work. Now they’re working together to build a tiny home boutique that will enable them to take their business on the road.
Joel Murga and Jaide Hatfield started Jaide & Joel’s Baking Company together when Joel’s sister stepped down from the bakery she was running. Joel’s first attempt at baking gluten-free treats didn’t cut it, and Jaide told him so. “She tried them and said they weren’t very good,” Joel says. “Jaide told me, ‘If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right. And we’re going to do vegan and gluten-free.’”
Today, the couple shares that clear vision for the business—and supports one another through the trials of small business ownership. “Everyone isn’t going to see what you see or value what you value,” Joel says. “Keep believing in yourself and keep working hard.”
Kemi Pavlocak and her husband Mike, of O’Shun’s Orchard in California, see themselves as not just building a business, but serving their community. That’s part of what has kept them motivated even after losing their store in a fire and having to rebuild from the ground up. “We’re very active in the community of Ranchita, which is unfortunately a low-income area, and have come to understand what their needs are,” Kemi says. “Through all of our experiences here, we’ve come to learn how important just one business can be to the community. We’re very active in the issues that impact the community, and I’m proud of that.”
Harry and Donna Toland of Boardroom Hairstyles in Atlanta, Georgia, didn’t just have the challenge of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in their business—Donna also became seriously ill with COVID herself in 2021. “We really, really thought we were going to lose her,” Harry says. Today, she’s back at work and back to striving for excellence, but the couple will certainly never forget that experience. “You just never know from day to day what you’re about to get hit with or what’s going to happen,” Harry says. “Your health is the most important thing you have in your life.”
Being a couple at work can be challenging, but these co-founders are making it work by playing to their strengths, pushing each other to be their best, and always keeping sight of what really matters.
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