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The reality of working with your partner

with Our Lovely Goods

 

Ebi and Emmanuel founded homeware brand, Our Lovely Goods in June 2019 from their garage in Aberdeen, Scotland, whilst raising their daughters, Eliana, 2 and 4-month-old Elyse. When the couple became parents they thought about the products they brought into their home and saw a niche in the market. They now liaise with their business partners in their native Nigeria to produce products which celebrate their Nigerian roots. 

Their passion for Nigerian artisan was apparent as soon as they met, ‘One of our first conversations was our love of interiors and starting a business. Our dream is now our reality.’ The couple started off with candles and skincare before going into luxury homeware, Emmanuel said: ‘I grew up in Nigeria and moved to Aberdeen aged 25, I went back in 2018 and was inspired, I knew these products would do well in the UK.’

When it comes to working and living together, Ebi says it’s vital to have different roles so they can take ownership over those roles, ‘It takes away having to tell each other what to do!’ They told us what it’s actually like to work with your partner and their top tips for making it work.

Ebi is Creative Director and does all the social media, visual directions and product development while Emmanuel is operations, logistics, and the stuff that Ebi admits she’s no good at!

With all their homeware sourced in Nigeria, they send out their designs and measurements to Africa from their garage in Aberdeen. This means it’s convenient but can also come with challenges, ‘It’s great waking up, going to the garage and trying out a product, but it can be hard to separate our work and home life. We try to separate the two by having regular date nights. We love going out to eat, we need to do that more, we’re tired of cooking and takeaways!’

Their second baby hasn’t helped when it comes to work/ life balance either, ‘It’s been very difficult because our baby  doesn’t sleep until midnight and then we’re exhausted.’

They have found that the recipe to juggling their hectic lifestyle is to tag team, ‘We take one child each. If we have something pressing on during a week of no sleep, it can be a real strain on the business. We can get cranky with each other so we have to be very aware of that, acknowledge it and realise that sometimes running a business and family is far from easy. We have also learnt to smile through it and embrace the madness together.’

When it comes to working together, there are pros and cons, ‘It’s good that we don’t have to schedule a meeting with each other, we can just do it while cooking dinner which helps things flow a lot better, but it also means we never switch off!’

'When it comes to working together, there are pros and cons, ‘It’s good that we don’t have to schedule a meeting with each other, we can just do it while cooking dinner which helps things flow a lot better, but it also means we never switch off!'

‘We sometimes only talk about work, we can forget that we’re a couple and bicker. We think, and hope, there are more pros than cons!’

In the Nigerian society, the couple have witnessed sexism Emmanuel said: ‘When I go back to Nigeria and tell them that my wife and I are co-founders and 50/50, they assume I’m the boss and she’s my assistant so I’ve had to explain that my wife produces the products by herself and I can’t do any of this without her.’

Ebi also explains it happens on both sides, ‘People assume that all the creativity comes from me but we come up with ideas together, Emmanuel doesn’t just do all the muscle stuff, we’re in this together.’

Our Lovely Goods wasn’t an idea that just happened overnight, their journey to get there has been a tough one with lots of highs and lows.

When the couple first started out, they had their first market in Aberdeen but only sold two candles to family and friends, ‘We were like, “Are we sure we should go into this business?”

Just two weeks later however, they had another market in Glasgow and told thirty candles in thirty minutes and Emmanuel knew then that they were onto a winner, ‘When I came back to the stand from the cashpoint, Ebi had sold everything we’d put out on display, we literally came back with just our stands. Driving back, we were on a complete high! That was one of the turning points and it made us stay in the business.’

Talking about the highs, Ebi had a real pinch-me moment when Elle Decoration contacted them to feature them in their magazine, ‘Being featured in Elle Decoration was just insane, it felt like we’d really made it.’

Our Lovely Goods has also just been approached by Anthropologie online which is another milestone moment.

When it comes to the future of Our Lovely Goods, one thing the couple don’t struggle with is running out of ideas, ‘We just run out of time to implement them. We’ve had forecasts for the year and although we’re hitting the milestones, there still isn’t enough time but at least we’re busy.’

The couple’s dream now is a high street shop. The couple had a taste of owning their own shop when winning a competition to host a pop up shop in Edinburgh, Ebi was in her element, ‘That whole experience was just amazing. It was a beautiful shop and just insane seeing our whole range in a shop for the first time. People could interact with the products and we could talk to them about each one, it was one of the best experiences ever.’

Our Lovely Goods newest goal is to have a much bigger production and distribution space one and a shop where they can also hold events and workshops, ‘We live and breathe our products and we are running a business that we love so we feel blessed every single day, we just want to grow it and grow it until everyone has us in our homes!’

‘We live and breathe our products and we are running a business that we love so we feel blessed every single day, we just want to grow it and grow it until everyone has us in our homes!’

Key takeaways:

1. Have patience: ‘It’s essential to have a lot of patience. We have had to teach ourselves to juggle managing a business, a house, young children, the office and most importantly your love for each other. We have to try to compartmentalise each one.’

2. Remember you’re not just business partners: ‘From time to time, take a break away from your working environment and really look at your partner as a lover, not just as a business partner, it’s vital to have that time out to focus on your relationship.’

3. Say ‘I love you’: ‘It’s easy to treat each other as colleagues so tell each other you love each other. I know it’s a cliche, but it means so much.’

Husband and wife co-founders

Florence and James run Petalon from their Cornish farm and have learnt to recognise where each of their strengths (and weaknesses!) lie.

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