What’s better than growing a brand of beloved products with an incredible community following? Doing it all with your one-and-only sister (who happens to be a bestie) by your side. For National Siblings Day, Lauren and Kaki shared an insider’s view to growing a brand as a family affair.
What’s it like to work with your sister every day?
Kaki: We’ve always been close, but now we are even closer. We wake up texting each other about things we thought of in the middle of the night, talk all day at work and then continue to talk in the car on my commute home.
Lauren: Yes, especially since we’re in the season of life where we’re raising children, it’s brought us all (including my mom too) closer and keeps us bonded throughout all of life’s crazy challenges with family and business.
What’s your secret to making it work?
Kaki: It’s so important to have a partner in growing a business. And it’s priceless for that partner to be someone you’ve known your whole life. I know Lauren’s strengths and weaknesses—and she knows mine—which makes working together that much easier.
Lauren: Exactly what Kaki said (see?)! I never need to explain myself; my family knows who I am and what I bring to the table. There aren’t any unknown expectations day-in, day-out. Also, we feel free to express any ideas and support each other unconditionally.
What makes it most challenging?
Kaki: Separating family from work. Many dinners & holidays are spent talking about Dudley Stephens, so there isn’t much of a break from work life. Thankfully we all have a passion for the company, so our best ideas often come from these conversations.
Lauren: Agreed. It’s important to just be together as a family, without talking about DS as much as we can—although that can be tough sometimes.
Kaki: You can say things to your sister that may not say to another colleague, which has worked in our favor. We bounce ideas off each other all day; some are great and lead to a big-idea plan at the end of lunch. Others are not-so-great and we’ll laugh at each other immediately, which will then spark more laughter about old family jokes. We try to keep it light and laugh at each other as much as possible!
Lauren: Early on, when we were still shipping orders out of my basement, Kaki and I were both (very) pregnant and taking inventory one day to update our website inventory. We were literally bending over, lifting inventory and boxes, counting each DS piece…and just laughing the whole time that we both felt so pregnant and could hardly move. That’s about as real as it gets!
Advice for someone thinking about starting a business or project with a sib?
Kaki: I encourage anyone thinking of starting a business to do so with a partner. If that partner is a sibling/family member, make sure to take things lightly and not let it get in the way of family. If there’s a disagreement, we always say family first and try to put business differences aside.
Lauren: I would highly suggest it—if you get along well with your sibling and feel your strengths and weaknesses complement each other. Kaki and I have always forged our own paths, while always coming back to each other and our family. Also, if you do start a business with a sibling, it’s important to celebrate their successes; to support each other through both good times and bad.