Amber Venz Box On Working With Your Partner

Amber Venz Box On Working With Your Partner

Behind every great brand is a great relationship. For Amber Venz Box, that relationship is both business related and personal. She and her husband, Baxter, co-founded the app together, creating a booming fashion empire as both business partners and husband and wife. So, what does it really take to run a successful business with your significant other? Amber reveals all….

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship – how did you meet?

Baxter and I met at Southern Methodist University when I was in my senior year of college – he was getting his MBA at SMU. I actually worked with his aunt at a local store in Dallas and she continually tried to set us up, but it wasn’t until we ran into each other at a New Year’s Eve party about two years later that we actually began dating.

What made you decide to go into business together?

We had just talked about what I was going to do, because I was spending so much money on photography, posting three times a day and also managing my jewellery line. I loved the blog, but I needed it to make money. So, I started just reaching out to other bloggers. I went to a blogging conference in 2010 where I met Leandra [Medine, of Man Repeller]. She was onstage, so my thought was, she must be making some money. I talked to her, and she told me how she was able to get free clothes. I came back home and told Baxter it was a lost cause – no one was making any money from this. He was an engineer and at the time was working for a fund doing tech investments. He asked me how, in an ideal world, I’d like to make money from my blog. I told him that if I could just prove to someone like [American department store] Neiman Marcus that someone bought their bag online because of my coverage, then I should be entitled to some commission. So we put together what we called rewardStyle and it was basically that exact concept. The same business terms that I’d always had with these stores, but just tracking online sales. We started building it at that very point, and that's where it all started.

What are the best things about working with your partner?

We love working together. It’s incredible to have a co-founder who I trust through and through. Baxter and I are yin and yang when it comes to our skills. He oversees the technical side of the business, while I oversee the marketing side. We sit next to each other in meetings and really balance each other’s ideas.

What are the downsides?

To start with it was the boundaries and work/life split. We’ve now found the perfect balance in work and family life now – I think the kids have played a massive part in that.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge about running a business with your husband?

In the beginning, it was very hard. As our company grew, our roles became more obviously differentiated, but we were two years into dating when we started rewardStyle together and our relationship was not mature enough at that point to set proper boundaries.

What advice would you give to couples who are debating whether to start a business together?

Set boundaries! Starting a business is extremely stressful and it can be torture on your relationship if you aren’t able to take a step back and remember the reasons you started this whole adventure in the first place.  

For couples that are already in business together, what advice would you give them?

Don’t talk about work at home. They say you only really have the first eight years of a child’s life to shape the person they are going to be, and that time is moving fast! Time matters, so we are intentional with our children and each other.

Do you and your husband have very different roles in the business, or do you do a lot of work together?

We have very complementary skill sets. His background is in finance and engineering, and mine is completely fashion, branding and marketing.

As our company grew, our jobs evolved into more obviously distinguished roles. I own everything brand and he owns everything tech and finance. We respect each other’s expertise. I believe our balanced skill sets are secret to our success.

Would you say it's brought you closer as a couple? And, if so, why?

Yes, 100%. I am so grateful that we work together. If we didn’t, I’m not sure when I would see him!

How do you separate your relationship from work and at home?

It sounds so rigid, but we found we were working all the time whether we wanted to or not. So now we have a rule that once we get out of the car at home, all work discussion is off. If we have an idea or something we want to talk about, we just put time on each other’s calendar. Putting those boundaries in place has really helped us.

What’s next for your business - any more joint ventures or projects you're working on together?

We're going through the next chapter of the company. We hit a billion dollars in sales last year, which was a big milestone that we'd been working toward. We've hired a new CFO, seven new VPs and have grown our team quite a bit, especially our leadership team. We're investing in the strategic growth of the company, and we're coming up with new technology to make monetising influence as easy as turning a key.

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