New York, NY—With family-owned businesses being the backbone of the fine jewelry industry, the subject of generational transitions is on many jewelers’ minds.
But what about the couple that’s in business together without kids? Does being together almost 24/7 enhance the relationship or put a strain on it? Can you draw a firm enough boundary between shop talk and pillow talk?
A recent article in Entrepreneur online addressed the issue from the perspective of couples building a new business together. Author Kimzani Constable offered these key tips:
Dorothy and Don Vodicka (above left) of The Gem Collection in Tallahassee, FL, are experts in the matter, as they have been working together successfully for 30 years. When asked what their secrets to success are, Dorothy outlined almost the exact same points.
“Even though you work in the same environment and have the same basic goals, you should each develop different areas of expertise,” she says. “This allows both partners to shine in various areas and develop different talents and interests even within the same business. It also lets each partner appreciate the skills each bring to the business and leads to supporting and respecting each other instead of competing against each other.”
In their store, she is mostly responsible for merchandising and marketing and Don is responsible for operations and staffing. The couple ends up respecting each other's talents and neither of them wants to interfere with the other's job, she says.
Josette Patterson, wife and business partner of designer Mark Patterson and an artist in her own right, says it's absolutely essential to draw a firm line between work and home.
"We try to keep work-related discussions at work and leave personal time for anything but professional," she says. "Compromise and profound respect for one another has also made the collaboration successful." She agrees with Vodicka that understanding each partner's roles and responsibilities also is essential. "Each of us have both shared and independent responsibilities, whether at work or home. When shared, we each have a veto to stop a project or fundamentally change it."
Josette Patterson with one of her own sculptures.
Vodicka takes it a step further and recommends a couple in business also find an outside common cause they want to support together, like a charity or cultural institution. “It gives you something to be passionate about together besides your business,” she says.
Lastly, she agrees completely with Constable about the need for personal space. “If work becomes too intense or you can't agree on an issue, get away from it for a while (and maybe from each other!) Often taking a step away from any intense situation can bring you a new perspective on it in a short time.”
Read the full Entrepreneur article here.