Ask Elsie & Emma: What’s it like working together?

Red velvet shopElsie and I often get asked what it's like to work together. Since we're like, sisters and all. Working with family or close friends can be challenging. Although Elsie and I have a dynamic that works well together. We've been working together since we were in high school, we started selling handmade accessories at music festivals during the summers. We used to do wedding photography together. I helped Elsie with her first Etsy shop and eventually we became full partners, owning the Red Velvet store and this little website you're reading right now. We recently completed our first co-authored book together too. Here are three reasons why our partnership works in business.Emma and elsie1. We don't compete. My success is Elsie's success, and vice versa. I don't want to be better than her; I want us to be better than we could be on our own. And we are. Elsie and I have very different strengths (and weaknesses). She has a stronger artistic vision than me; Elsie's design abilities never cease to amaze me. We both come up with ideas for articles, take pictures, create content; but it's really Elsie who makes our brand so beautiful. I have a better since of administration; I organize, budget and keep our business on track. We both have a strong say in where our business is headed; but it's me who strategically keeps things headed in that direction. It would be easy to get jealous or annoyed by each other's strengths. It's hard seeing your sister be better at something than you. But instead we realized early on that our strengths could compliment and balance each other out. We need each other; and that keeps us from getting jealous or… uh… catty. πŸ™‚Elsie and emma2. We have similar but contrasting styles. I am type A, she is right-brained. I have a messy, 1970s vibe style. She prefers clean lines and bold, well put together pieces. We have slightly different tastes, and this makes us stronger. When thinking about our next business move Elsie can dream big and imagine the impossible, I think about what that would cost and what demographic we could target that to. When creating a new craft project we both come at the project with a slightly different aesthetic; making the design process more full and interesting. Being different is not something we shy away from. Having a different idea or perspective is never something we hide from each other during meetings. We respect each other and listen, even when we don't initially agree.

3. We know each other. We're sisters so we grew up together (duh!) and we've been best friends for most of our lives. We've seen each other grow and change over the years; we've watched and shared in each others successes and failures. And we can anticipate what each other will think about certain things. This gives us a communication edge. We can quickly and easily explain ideas. And we understand where the other one is coming from. In business, this ability to communicate easily is a priceless gift. 

Just a few peeks inside our little family business. xo. Emma

Third photo c/o Float Away Studios.

  • This is awesome.Thanks for sharing! I love how you build each other and complete each other instead of compete.Lots of sisters will learn from you two.

  • I think thatΒ΄s wonderful and how I wish every sisterhood would be like (IΒ΄ve heard different too from friends). That is how IΒ΄d hoped it to be if I had siblings, so IΒ΄m a little envious. πŸ™‚

  • I love how supportive you two are of each other and that you don’t compete with each other. Sometimes I wish that I had a sibling who was close enough in age to work together.(My brother’s 13 years older than me.)

  • Long may it continue ladies. Whatever you’re both doing is working – for now anyway.
    My sister and I had a wonderful relationship for 35 years … or so I thought πŸ™

  • This is so insightful. I’ve always wanted a business partner for my (future) business but I’ve been weary of the pitfalls. This is really helpful. Thank you for writing it!

  • This is really great.
    A lot of people can’t work together like as they do become very competitive. I think most are that way by nature. But when you work with someone close, you must put all selfishness aside.
    And its good that you two pick up where the other leaves off, if that makes sense.
    Anyway, thank you again for sharing this. It has helped me and hopefully it will help others to work well together in the future.

  • It is so refreshing to see siblings get along and actually complement not compete. It can be done.You remind me of my mother and her sister, they complemented each other quite well and worked together beautifully and loved each other deeply.

    Thank you for sharing how your strengths work together.

  • My sis is 11 years older than me (I’m 16), but we’re a lot like you two. We’re best friends and can really understand each other and communicate well. Our styles are definitely different, but we somehow complement each other.
    She has a photography business, and I started working with her this year, too!

  • What a brilliant post! I run a handmade business with my sister, so this is very inspiring. We’re similar in many ways, but really do have a number of different strengths, so it’s important to remember how they can work together. Thank you. x

  • I really enjoyed this piece. I love collaborative art, but you’re right, it is too easy to get jealous, and put our own feelings above the importance of the project. Reading about how you can work with someone who is so close to you in such a difficult industry is very inspiring. I hope some day to be in a position to do such incredible work with the people I hold nearest and dearest.
    Also I totally love that last photo, reminds me of how I found out about you guys through Ready Made magazine (a souvenir from a trip my Mum took the states, now there’s a lady who knows me well!)
    –Erin

  • This was nice to read. It’s easy to think that working with a sibling or best friend is fun, but there are challenged too! Nice to hear a successful story. πŸ˜€

  • This is so fascinating, I would love for my little sis to live nearer, I can’t think of anyone I would rather work with and who I could trust more x

  • You guys are so inspiring, I have a baby brother and it would make me so happy if we were this close – as it is we only see each other twice a year!

    Loving your ‘everyday’ blogs too, your updates always make me smile! x

  • What a wonderful post!! Thanks for sharing this!! It’s so inspiring to see the love that you two have for one another and the friendship! What a blessing it must be to have your own sister as your best friend and business partner!

  • These are some beautiful sentiments, and very important lessons to learn. I’m going to try thinking this way with my sister πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing.

  • I love this blog, but I think an editor might be a good idea. It could only make you stronger.

  • Hi Elsie and Emma πŸ™‚ i want to thank you two for inspiring me. I love A Beautiful Mess. Now i have my own blog and i try my best to make my blog as great as yours

  • Great read. I don’t have any sisters, but am 100% certain that there would be a fatality if either of my brothers and I worked together! We love each other, but… πŸ™‚

  • “We don’t compete. My success is Elsie’s success, and vice versa. I don’t want to be better than her; I want us to be better than we could be on our own.”

    I appreciated this so much– it’s so refreshing to see. From the moment I found your site, I could tell that you value your friendship more than successes and that is such a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Wow you ladies amaze me! I think about running a business with my sister and I temporarily die of fright! You must just be the ying to her yang πŸ˜‰

    xoxo Sarah
    theantiquepearl.blogspot.com

  • This is such a wonderful and insightful post, I’ve often wondered about this before! I have two brothers, so I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a sister, and it is so lovely that you two are so close and work together so well. I’d be proud to have a sister like either of you! Meanwhile, my big brothers will have to do!
    http://www.styleisalwaysfashionable.blogspot.com

  • You are both amazing women. I know I wish I had a close sister, that bond is so special. I also loved reading about your trip to NY with your mom. Thank you for your lovely blogs-I am checking in on all three now. I like that each of you is doing a little personal side blog, we get to know each of you better that way. I appreciate your hard work. Thanks for sharing so openly.

  • i love that you and elsie can work so close and well together πŸ™‚
    and you have set up such an amazing business!

    seeing that picture makes me want to visit your shop so bad!
    it looks like such a lovely place.
    xo, cheyenne

  • You guys are great! It’s good to hear your thoughts on the subject. Going into business ventures with my BFF of 15 years seems scary sometimes, but this advice is really spot on for us as well. I hope we can be as successful someday. πŸ™‚

  • I have 2 siters, we were like Charm witches , I am the youngest and got their clothes:) , we all have different aesthetic senses but unfortunately can not work together in business and we live far away from each other. You are so lucky!

  • That is so great that you are able to work so well and be so supportive of each other! Family businesses can be tough, and def not for everyone. Glad to see that is not the case for you two!

  • I run a small business with my boyfriend, so it’s a kind of family business too. It’s just the beginning and we definitely need to learn how to cooperate with each other. Although you didn’t make a list of tips, this post learned me a lot, really. thank you!
    Julia
    http://www.thesheerstories.blogspot.com

  • I love family businesses and you two do so well for each other. You two cmpliment each other perfectly! Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  • I used to work in the same place as my mum, sis, an aunty, an uncle plus 2 cousins .. working along side relations can seem very hard at times but looking back, I loved having someone there who has known me all my life.

    As much as I think of my sis as my best friend, we have our ups and downs much as any people who are close. When we have a fall out ( which is rare these day as we are alot older ), it seems absolutely massive then one of us cave in and cry,the other will cry, then we’re best mates again πŸ™‚

  • So sweet of you two- love the sister love! Must be so fun working with your sis, wish I could do the same πŸ™‚

  • As someone with a sister, I really love reading this! My sister and I love each other and are very close but we are TOTALLY different and so could never ever work together. We couldn’t even share a room πŸ˜‰ So I love this!

  • This sounds so wonderful. I have 3 sisters and 1 brother and none of us like each other at all. Never have even as kids growing up. I’m jealous in a good way.

  • I am always encouraged and enlightened by both of you, with each post. However, if I may offer some criticism. I see a lot of typos and bad grammar on this blog. Things that professional bloggers should not be making mistakes on. You may want to consider getting someone else to edit your posts before you make them live. Example from this post “since” instead of “sense”. Just one reader’s opinion πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for this post! Me and my best friend, the closest thing to sisters either of us will have always talk about working together, great info!

  • I can imagine it’s hard sometimes, especially when you both have very different opinions, but it’s really neat that you two recognize the way your differences complement each other. You make a wonderful team, and it’s very inspiring!

  • i loved this! thanks so much for sharing! i’m a sucker for a sisterly bond since I’m an only child!

    xo