“We truly enjoy our pearl jewelry business and it would be so convenient for us to talk numbers over our morning coffee, but that’s our time as a couple,” MuseumWayPearls.com owner Jacqui Trotta says.
Jacqui and her husband, Stephen, are among many young married couples who have teamed up both in life and in business. Together they launched and run MuseumWayPearls.com, a Boston-based ecommerce pearl jewelry company that just celebrated its fifth strong year. However, as almost every married business owner finds out, boundaries need to be set to ensure success at both marriage and business.
“The oldest piece of advice for any married entrepreneur is to separate business and pleasure,” Stephen explains. “However, when our business was brand new it was hard not to discuss new ideas and issues all the time. Now we occasionally bring our laptops to the beach, but for the most part we have specific time designated to business and we stick to that.”
Boundaries are not just for discussions, they are also for real estate. “If you work from home, have an office or a private area to keep your work. We store all of our pearl jewelry offsite, but we also have a home office,” Jacqui says. “Whiteboards are not art. The last thing you want to do is serve Thanksgiving with a whiteboard hanging over the head of the table. We did that once and it still haunts me.”
Bond over Business
From China to Los Angeles, Jacqui and Stephen have traveled the world building supply contacts and shopping for new pieces of pearl jewelry. During every business trip they try and sneak away for an hour of sightseeing or a quick dinner.
Just as they’ve allowed their business to bring them closer as a couple, they’ve taken the much dreaded business travel grind and turned it into a bonding experience. “I’ve traveled for other jobs and I feel so lucky now to be able to see the world with my husband as opposed to a random coworker,” Jacqui says.
Stephen has some advice for couples looking to run a business together, “You need to have the utmost respect for each other and keep little household chores out of business discussions. Forgetting to empty the dishwasher, and making a mistake with a pearl jewelry supply order have nothing in common, so keep it that way.”
Jacqui and Stephen agree one of their favorite things about owning Museum Way Pearls together is the honesty they have about all areas of the business. “Stephen is left-brained and I am right-brained,” Jacqui says. “For example, I have come up with some really creative ideas, and Stephen, being the logical one, either embraces them or brings me back to earth. Of course we disagree about some things, but it is much easier to tell your spouse their idea is horrible than it is to tell your boss.”
Take Time as a Couple
The Trottas have another employee who took care of the entire business while they were on a two-week honeymoon in Aruba. However, Museum Way Pearls did find a way to pop up on that trip. “I did bring about 10 pieces of my own pearl jewelry, but that was one trip where there were no laptops at the beach,” Jacqui says laughing. “It’s all about work-life balance.”
Jacqui Trotta is co-owner of Boston-based MuseumWayPearls.com. She specializes in Akoya pearls, South Sea pearls, freshwater pearls and Tahitian pearl jewelry and can be contacted at JTrotta@MuseumWayPearls.com.
Category: Startup Advice