Can a business between friends actually work? Our conversation with two friends turned business owners convinced us that yes, it can!
This week on Xero Gravity we welcome best friends Emily Moon and Kelsey Carlstedt. They are the two entrepreneurs behind By Grace Designs, an online boutique that offers clothing and accessories handcrafted by women in Ghana. They chat with us about transitioning from friends to business partners and what challenges they faced building a successful nonprofit with their friendship intact.
Both Emily and Kelsey share an emotional connection to Ghana, especially Emily who spent most of her younger years living in the poverty-stricken country. She was still in high school when she returned to the states, and soon after that the idea for By Grace Designs was sparked. The two friends wanted to help and empower the women living in Ghana, and in the process, showcase the beautiful fabrics and dresses curated in the country.
Figuring out how to go from a personal relationship to a business one was a slow process for Emily and Kelsey – it wasn’t something they had experience with or could even prepare for. In the beginning it was tricky drawing that line between friendship and business, but after a couple of years they’ve definitely learned a few things.
“Define your parameters – like what you expect of the other person. Because if the other person knows from the beginning what you are expecting to see from them, I think they will deliver. Whereas if you leave that ambiguous, you’re like, ‘I thought you were going to do that,’” Kelsey stresses.
Another hurdle they faced was learning how to collaborate on the business remotely. Emily and Kelsey run the nonprofit from two different cities, so staying in constant communication is crucial when decisions need to be made.
“Yeah, it’s tough. Proximity is so key. But we also work with women that are in Ghana and India. So it’s definitely not ideal but we do whatever we have to do to make it work. Whether that’s staying up until 3:00am or Skyping or videoing, whatever we have to do, we do,” says Emily.
Tune into Xero Gravity episode 66 to hear more on how these two friends started their business – including Grace By Design’s inspiring beginnings and how Emily and Kelsey are helping and empowering women across three continents.
Small Business Resources:
If you enjoyed this episode, join us again next week. We’ll be chatting with Nicole Cullen, director at Cullaborate, about conflict resolution in your business and how facing it head on is the way to go. Be sure to check out all of our previous episodes for more small business tips, resources and insights.
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