Product Design

What It's Actually Like to Run a Business With Your Significant Other

These Shop makers share everything together.

February 13, 2019

What if your partner in life was also your partner in business? We asked four Shop maker couples to give us the scoop on what it's like to share everything together—and how they make their relationships, well, work. So grab the nearest chocolate-covered anything, tuck in, and prepare for a real-life love story.

Hawkins New York

Photo by Hawkins New York

By Nick Blaine and Paul Denoly, Hawkins New York (it’s based upstate) features its own line of unique home decor while supporting local artisans. You can expect Icelandic sheepskins, handblown glassware, so-soft Belgian linen bedding, and more.

Maggie Slover: What’s the best thing about working with your partner? And what’s the most difficult?

Hawkins: The best thing about working together is that it has brought us closer. The challenges we face together and how we overcome them make each of us better partners, designers, and business owners. The victories we celebrate, we share together. It's kind of brilliant if you can make it work. The most difficult thing is not letting our personal relationship get in the way of our professional one, and vice versa.

MS: What’s the first thing you ever made together?

Hawkins: Our house in the Hudson Valley is the first project that we worked on together. Many of the design choices made for our home informed what would later become Hawkins New York. In most cases, the items we develop are a result of products we were looking for and could not find or were not pleased with quality.


Photo by Glaze

Working with woods of all stripes from American lumberyards, Glaze's Akeem Pierre Glaze and Stephanie Marie DelVecchio create handmade match boxes that double as decorative pieces. Our favorite part: When you open each one up, it’s painted with a colorful surprise.

MS: How does this product reflect your partnership?

Glaze: Our studio draws on influences from both of our backgrounds. Steph grew up just outside of Boston, Akeem hails from Palm Beach County, and we both went to school in Providence—so we look to combine the Northeast with Palm Beach. We take the experiences we've had, and infuse the two lifestyles into our products through color, material, and imagery.

MS: What’s the first thing you ever made together?

Glaze: Dinner! It was something we did together all the time when we first started dating. We met at the Rhode Island School of Design our sophomore year in a metalsmithing class. We both studied Industrial Design, and worked evening shifts in the wood shop together. It was there where we fell in love with woodworking and gained an immense appreciation for craftsmanship and the tools which enabled us to create. Also, we're getting married in four months!


Photo by GIR

GIR started with a single spatula, when Brian Rose and Samantha Rose decided to make this everyday tool even better. Now, their shop includes other tech-savvy silicone superstars (like a lid that’ll stick to just about anything) and more kitchen upgrades.

MS: What’s the best thing about working with your partner? And what’s the most difficult?

GIR: We are a hive mind. We fill in each other’s blanks. We think similarly about the challenges of making products and running a business, but we also have complimentary skills and strengths—as a team, we’re more than the sum of our parts. The most difficult aspect of working together is that we are never off. It can be hard to compartmentalize work from the rest of life—especially because we both love to be productive—but ultimately everyone needs a little time away from the desk, and that’s hard to get when there’s so much we’re trying to build together (and three kids to wrangle the moment the computers shut down!).

MS: What’s the first thing you ever made together?

GIR: Valentine’s Day dinner, junior year of college. Brian deserves most of the credit, to be honest! He trekked across town in the snow to an Italian specialty shop for ingredients and made osso bucco and risotto—his specialty to this day—in our tiny dorm room kitchen.

Graf Lantz

Photo by Graf Lantz

Named after its creators, Holger Graf and Daniel Lantz, Graf Lantz is all about merino wool goods. They come in all shapes and sizes (hello, wine carrier of our dreams) for all your toting and decluttering needs. Plus, it's a 100% sustainable company.

MS: How does this product reflect your partnership?

Graf Lantz: We are total opposites, but at some point we realized we are actually two halves of the same coin. That’s probably why our design interests have always been about finding ways to bridge and balance the tension between seeming opposites—like natural and technical, engineered and hand-worked, and beauty and utility.

MS: What’s the first thing you ever made together?

Graf Lantz: Our first product—and the one that launched our company—is the wine carrier. Of all our classic products, this one keeps us mindful of our roots. We were still learning felt in those days. The goal was to design a high-function product that highlights the simple rawness and structure of felt. It worked...and we have followed that idea since.

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Maggie Slover

Written by: Maggie Slover