Spouses Who Work Together


When it comes to love and relationships, distance often makes the heart grow fonder. Many married couples agree that healthy space is necessary, and that living together and working together would be a recipe for disaster. For a select few, however, managing or starting a business with a spouse not only proves to be financially beneficial to their household, but also improves the overall quality of their relationship.

A 2017 article by Entrepreneur magazine reports that a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses discovered that a whopping 43 percent of small businesses are indeed family businesses, with over 50 percent of those managers identifying as spouses of the small business owners. In fact, many major household brands and successful businesses are spearheaded by married couples as well. To name a few, Andy and Kate Spade were co-owners of the beloved clothing and accessory brand Kate Spade LLC, while Lynda and Stewart Resnick co-own both POM Wonderful and Fiji Water brands.

The Triad is home to many married couples who own and operate beloved local businesses together. To dive deeper into what it’s really like working with a spouse on a day-to-day basis, the team at Forsyth Woman interviewed lawfully-wedded local business owners in the greater Winston-Salem area to learn more.

What inspired you and your spouse to enter the business world together?  

Keith and Emily Davis, Fleet Feet Sports (Winston-Salem)

“Keith and I were both working for large companies and decided we wanted to do something that represented our personal passions for fitness and healthy living. We also wanted to structure our business so that it allowed us flexibility for the family we wanted to build.”

Sean and Ashley McCulley, Pencil and Pines (Winston-Salem)

“Sean and I have always had crafty hobbies that we really enjoyed doing in our free time. When we first met, we were both in the service industry working nights and weekends and we were ready for a change. Winston-Salem is such an amazing community for artists and makers. We’ve been able to meet and collaborate with so many people who have helped support us through it all. We couldn’t be more thankful.”

What are the pros and cons of working with your spouse?  

Keith and Emily Davis

“On some days, it’s hard to tell whether there are more pros or cons. The positive aspects are that we see each other all time and that we have been able to build something together and share in the ups and downs. This has also been the biggest downside. We see a lot of each other.  I go to work and he’s there. I go home and he’s there. If you can’t tell, there’s lots of togetherness.”

Sean and Ashley McCulley

“The pros are countless in our eyes. Getting to work with the person we trust the most and growing together is something we wouldn’t trade for anything. Creating our own schedule in order to have more time for family and friends is really important to us as well. The con in working together is that we truly are just a two-person business – well, three if you count our very helpful assistant/dog, Bo. We each have our own skill set, so it can be overwhelming at times when one of us needs help with a project.”

What is something you have learned about marriage and business throughout the process of running a business together?  

Keith and Emily Davis

“For both marriage and business, trust has to be the foundation. When you can trust that the other person has the best intentions for your business, and that your family is their number one priority, you can then trust in their decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. There are many times that we don’t agree; we do most things differently than each other, making trust critical in making it work.”

Sean and Ashley McCulley

“We feel that there are a lot of similarities in marriage and business. In both marriage and in running a business, you always need to communicate and never assume that your partner can read your mind. We’ve fortunately found a great balance between our responsibilities and roles when it comes to our marriage and business that really works well for us.”

What advice do you have for any couples considering entering the business world together?  

Keith and Emily Davis

“At the end of the day, someone has to have final say. You can’t both have the final say. There will be many instances when you disagree, so if you can enter into the business relationship knowing who will have the final say in major decisions, it will save you from having a lot of arguments. You need to have mutual agreements on decisions without holding resentment towards each other. We’ve found that working with your spouse requires many, many ‘suck it up’ moments.”

Sean and Ashley McCulley

“Always find ways to keep each other motivated, keep things fun, and always be your partner’s biggest fan. Talk about your goals. Take the time to learn about each other’s interests. We think it’s also very important to find your own balance and set healthy boundaries.”


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