Think you're "married to your work?" Try starting a business with your significant other! We've assembled a panel of amazing women to share their insights on the joys and challenges of co-preneurship...
- Jennifer Finch - Firehouse Brewing Company
- Renata Carlseen - Kapreeza European Lingerie & Swimwear
- Michelle Bartok - Innovative Body Science
- Kim Horner - C & H Gardens
While countless husband-wife partnerships are successful--and fulfilling--they can also create added pressure in your personal and professional lives.
So how do you know if running a business with your spouse is right for you?
Statistics are elusive, but anecdotal evidence suggests that more American couples are starting companies together in this generation than in previous ones. Like all entrepreneurs, "co-preneurs" face daunting odds: While some two-thirds of small companies make it past the two-year mark, just 44% can hack it for four years, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For couples that do brave this dangerous territory, working too much is one of the many challenges they will face. The stresses of running a company together can shake the foundations of even the strongest unions. Get it right, though, and the combo can pay off big--both for the company and for the marriage. Hear first-hand accounts of women who have taken the plunge!
More about our panelists...
Jennifer L. Finch
Jennifer Finch graduated with honors from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, San Diego. Immediately following she dove in to develop the Firehouse Brewing Company along-side her today husband, Christopher Finch. In November 2004 the flagship beer was on the market and in August 2008, San Diego City Beat Readers voted Firehouse American Pale Ale as the Best Beer in San Diego. IRI data ranked the companies top two beers the 4th and 6th Top Selling New Craft Beers in Supermarkets across the nation. As Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Jennifer is responsible for leading a sales team throughout Southern California as well as into seven states outside of California. Though her title reads sales and marketing, she does everything from being a brand rep to administering the financials. Today Jennifer sits on the board of directors for the Firehouse Brewing Company as well as five other companies she has co-founded Firehouse Foundation, FBC Sales of Southern California, HopFarmer Fine Ales, Sun God Brewing Company and Cerveza Imports of America.
Renata Carlseen was born and raised in the country of Latvia during the Soviet era. She has always had an eye for fashion and as a teenager faced with the options provided by Communist fashion learned how to design and sew her own clothes. After immigrating to the U.S., Renata tried a few careers but in the end she decided to follow her heart and pursue a career in fashion industry. Deeply dissatisfied with the fit and quality of lingerie and swimwear available in the America, she developed unique business plan focused on bringing the superior design, materials and workmanship of European manufacturers to her adopted home. After establishing connections with many small firms not yet represented in the States, she experimented with various home-based sales models. In 2009 Kapreeza European Lingerie and Swimwear Specialty Shop opened its doors to public in Little Italy and is quickly gaining a reputation for superior quality, selection and value. In the early days, both Renata and her husband Erik (who also runs a separate business from home) were facing challenges of planning and building a new business, maintaining an existing business, and developing their marriage all while spending nearly 24 hours a day together in a two-bedroom apartment. Still in the process of business growth, Renata is wearing many hats as a business owner: international business relations, purchasing and importing, market research and strategy, event planning, social media and local womens group networking, all while running the shop, making sales and providing personalized customer service. www.kapreeza.com
Michelle Bartok founded Innovative Body Science in 1986 with a belief in the power of touch. The line of massage products developed into the idea of unifying resort hotels, their spa facilities, retail outlets and room amenities with their own private label products. From there IBS developed a full spa program including the development of high quality products, customized treatments, spa and retail staff training, consultation and marketing support services. IBS assists in the spa concept, menu, treatments, products and training for both the spa staff and retail staff. She has been awarded Entrepreneur of the Year for 2003 by the Beauty Industry West, Awarded 1 of Top 50 San Diego Entrepreneur Women for 2005 and 2006 and 1 of 100 Fastest Growing Companies in San Diego in 2005 and 2006 by the San Diego Business Journal. Michelle is a single mom with two daughters, Catherine and Gabrielle ages 15 & 12. In her spare time she races outrigger canoes, surfs and is an avid yoga practitioner and loves to run.
From full-time mother to her broad experience in the international corporate world, Kim offers a unique balance of life accomplishments, focused energy, and business acumen. Her extensive corporate background in management stretches from East coast international ISO 9001 corporations to West coast entertainment conglomerates, from talent agent, management, advertising, marketing, sales to running all corporate and special events. Since 1997 her focus has been upon C & H Gardens Artistic landscape and Tree Service, Inc. now a multimillion dollar corporation. Kim and her husband Kent work together on this highly competitive business. Kim has identified the company's strengths and weaknesses, fine-tuned its goals and directed its focus to broadening the company's market share. With her hands-on approach with C & H Gardens the business has resulted in annualized revenues increasing over 300% - no small feat in todays marketplace. On the creative side Kim is an accomplished artist, with an emphasis on painting and photography. She uses this award-winning talent in every endeavor she takes on whether that be decorating a home, an outdoor space, or putting together advertisement pieces to prospective clients. Kim also understands the importance of work/life balance. With her husband of 20 years, two sons, one in middle school and the oldest in high school, involved in everything from Junior Lifeguards and water polo to playing the saxophone, to learning to fly airplanes and dreaming of being a writer someday, everyday life is an act of balance. www.plantch.com