23/02/2016 06:12 GMT | Updated 20/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Sparks in the Workplace: How We Run Our Start-Up as a Couple


Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Sonny and Cher, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, James Taylor and Carly Simon, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The track record for couples living and working together isn't great. Though, having said that, the idea of me comparing myself to Tom Cruise would probably make many of my friends chuckle, particularly the ones who saw me shovelling slices of take-away pizza down my throat at 1.30am after a particularly late day (and night) spent working.

The charming old adage, "don't shit where you eat" has been recycled more times than my housemate at University attempted in vain to look credible dancing to dubstep. How, therefore, you might ask, do Debs and I manage to run the Tom Cridland brand together without hurling 30 Year Sweatshirts at each other in fits of rage? The answer is simple: we are aiming for exactly the same things in life.


Debs and I have been together for six years and, since she first agreed to go out with someone who was, at that point, more famous for being nicknamed the Kebab magnate than designing clothes, our relationship has gone from strength to strength.

After we graduated from the University of Bristol, where we first met, Debs did a Masters at London Business School and went on to work for Universal Music. I, meanwhile, started Tom Cridland with a £6,000 government start-up loan and no experience in either business or fashion.

Though Debs only stopped working at Universal in January to take on her role as Managing Director of Tom Cridland full-time, she essentially co-founded the brand with me. Things took off when we had the honour of making Tom Cridland trousers for the likes of Leonardo Di Caprio, Rod Stewart, Ben Stiller, Frankie Valli, Hugh Grant, Daniel Craig, Stephen Fry, Brandon Flowers, Robbie Williams, Stephen Merchant, the Elton John Band, Nile Rodgers and Jeremy Piven. Last year, we then together developed the concept of The 30 Year Sweatshirt & T-Shirt, our signature products, both backed with a three decade guarantee and both sustainable fashion campaigns that have caused a stir in the industry.


Neither Debs nor I have ever enjoyed working as much as we do at this moment in time. Running businesses together, whether it be Tom Cridland or our PR agency is a dream come true for us and one that we thought would take a lot longer to realise.

For those of you who are considering working on a business idea with your spouse or partner but are put off by the raised eyebrows that the idea could be greeted with, I would like to assure you that there is more than the fact that Bill and Hilary Clinton are still married to suggest "shitting where you eat" without disaster is indeed possible. Do make sure, however, that you both want the same things in life and that, even if you're worried it might kill any chance spontaneity in your relationship, you have a solid plan. It might not seem rock 'n' roll but even Beyoncé and Jay-Z occasionally get out their black n' reds and jot down their goals in life.

Importantly, though this might not be what your marriage counsellor advises, do not compromise, fear conflict or set boundaries. If you truly have the interests of your business at heart, there will never be bruised egos.

As the psychologist and author of Entrepreneurial Couples put it, "When you work with your spouse, you're going to be challenged all the time by the way they think, including the way they think about you. That makes you introspective. It makes you work on yourself and the relationship. And that can't be bad."