I have a confession, I work with my husband and I like it. There, I said it. For most people, the thought of working with their other half sends them running for the hills. Even some of our closest friends are surprised that we manage to spend so much time together without ever tearing our hair out, but we don't. Or at least I don't. I don't suppose I should really speak for Geoff here. But let's be clear, this certainly isn't a love letter to my husband, this is business. And I'm not judging those who appreciate a little break from their partner - I can totally see that time spent apart can be a good thing. I just really believe that those who question the possibility of making it work underestimate the benefits. If you haven't tried it, don't write it off.
I met Geoff at university. We both wanted to be entrepreneurs but both ended up first working for other companies. Then 11 years ago, we launched the maternity brand Isabella Oliver. That was just after we had our first child. Within the next three years we had two more children. Three children and one new start-up in four years - that's a lot of deal with. We now have two brands (we launched the womenswear line Baukjen in 2009) that operate across international markets and have 80 members of staff. We share an office and sit opposite each other which all sounds pretty full-on, but it works. Believe it or not, we rarely know what the other person has been up to throughout the day as we look after different 'halves' of the company. I'm the Creative Director, Geoff's the CEO so our paths don't cross at every point.
What we then do is discuss our day at home after the kids are in bed. There's no veto on talking shop in our house. I don't see why there would be. In fact, we discuss the business all of the time. Not exclusively of course, but often. It's something we're both very passionate about and something we feel very privileged to be doing. Running your own business is personal and I'm not sure how I'd switch off from that, or even if I'd ever want to. I once read that Paul and Linda McCartney had agreed not to spend many nights apart. I like that sentiment. It has a real 'in-it-together' feel.
Now don't get me wrong, it's not all roses all of the time - this isn't a fairy tale. When you're married to your business partner you can easily forget a level of professionalism that you'd otherwise have with a colleague. If we disagree on something in a meeting, let's just say I can sometimes be a little informal which means our personal life can be for public consumption. There are huge positives though. We have mutually aligned interests so we trust each other implicitly. And, from a scheduling point of view, if something really important crops up like a doctor's appointment for one of the kids, we always understand - never underestimate how much easier that can make things. But what I enjoy most is how we're on a journey that's outside of our marriage and outside of our parenting responsibilities, and that is genuinely exciting.