What is your vision for your new business venture, The Sunroom?
We’ve got some big plans for the future of The Sunroom. In the beginning when we were planning to open we worked mainly on finding our brands and creating a collection of goods that aligned with our message of inclusive and ethical fashion that is also beautiful and timeless. While that is still a focus for us, the main goal we’re working on now is bringing the community into the shop. We are in the process of planning some really fun workshops with local makers and are also brainstorming other gatherings and collaborations for down the road.
What would you say it takes to be a good business partner?
Be able to laugh at yourself (we laugh at ourselves a lot), honest communication, and the ability to compromise and see outside of your own point of view. These are things we have seen grow in ourselves over the course of our partnership. We think we had snippets of these qualities inside us before started, but just from working and learning together we know they have improved. And it doesn’t just happen on its own; you have to have to work at it and constantly be open to change. It’s not easy, but it brings a beautiful result.
What advice would you give someone before jumping into a business partnership?
Have a strong foundation. It’s very much like a relationship; honesty and communication are so vital in every aspect of opening a business. Be prepared to have some difficult conversations about everything from fear and anxiety to financial situations (talking about money is HARD) to all kinds of personal stuff that you might not want to share with anyone. BUT, if you can get through all of that (which you totally can) get ready to have someone that will make you laugh until you pee your pants, share your most far out dreams, and be crying the happy tears right along with you at the end of the day. It’s so cool.
What are some of the ways you resolve conflict?
We might sound like a broken record, but communication! We also know when to give each other a little space and when to chat it out. And all of it takes practice! We don’t always agree but we respect each other and listen to each point of view. Sometimes we need to take a little break and come back to it, but it we always figure it out.
How do you divi up tasks amongst the two of you? Does it come naturally, or take some work?
We feel like we’ve been lucky, cause at this point it just comes pretty naturally. We always have have a proritized To Do List, and each morning we chat about the things we HAVE to do that day. Sometimes we might work on things together and other times Suz might be working on the budget while Chlo sends out emails. And we also aren’t afraid to ask each other to take care of different tasks that need done. As the business grows we might need to have assigned tasks to each of us, but right now this works great for us.
Chloe, what makes Suzanne a great business partner?
Suzanne is amazing. I think I always knew that; long before we became business partners she made me feel included as a new Madewell employee and would happily have 45 minute conversations about kitchen islands with me. Our friendship came so naturally that it just felt right when we learned that opening a store was a shared dream of ours. It just took meeting each other for that to become a reality.
Through every step of opening The Sunroom, Suzanne was there with advice, support, hugs, coffee and a million ways of making me laugh. I can think of so many moments where my anxiety would come in like a tornado and prevent me from making decisions or cause me to run through a million reasons why something would go wrong, and she would just look me dead in the eyes and tell me everything was going to be okay. And that meant the world to me.
I’m not the only one who benefits from being around Suz either. She has a way to make everyone around her feel welcomed and happy and comfortable. She is so endearing in her interactions; she truly loves talking to and learning about each and every one of our customers. And, the way that she talks about our designers and artists and vendors just emanates her passion.
Knowing Suzanne and meeting her family has also brought so much joy into my life. Her daughter Ada and husband Nate have practically become second family, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Nate helped immensely with creating our website (and drying our tears when needed) and Ada made us so happy even on the most stressful days.
Thinking about opening a business without Suzanne feels impossible. I’m convinced that there is no other business partner that could give me the confidence, support, and love that she has. Our friendship is stronger than ever, and so is our business. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the future.
Suzanne, what makes Chloe a great business partner?
So many things! First- Chloe puts her heart into everything she does (and she has a beautiful heart.) She cares about everyone who walks through our door. I saw this in her when we worked together before we became business partners and it’s one of the reasons I knew I wanted to partner with her on this endeavor. She makes genuine connections with people because they can trust her; she will always have their best interests at heart.
Second- Chloe is a dreamer, in the very best way. Much of the time I am more of a thinker, and there are times I can get too caught up in what is practical or efficient. But Chloe’s dreamer personality creates a wonderful balance. And she will research and brainstorm and work so hard to make each dream a reality. And maybe sometimes not every aspect of it is possible, but just the dream itself is inspiring and leads to something amazing that would not have happened otherwise.
And last- Chloe is so supportive of me and my family. I could not have imagined a more supportive partner. Doing all of this with a baby is challenging, but it would have been impossible without Chloe’s help. From the very beginning she has made sure that my daughter Ada came first, and has many times taken care of tasks so I can focus on her. Not everyone would be happy to make numerous trips to the bank or hardware store while juggling a teething, fussy baby, but Aunt Chlo is always ready for it and even makes it fun! One day I hope I can do the same for her, because nothing means so much as when someone in your life loves and cares for your child like they would their own.
What’s the best thing about being in partnership together?
We have a great balance between the two of us. Each of us has strengths that are unique, so together we pretty much make one superhuman. It’s how we can get so much done! Also, it’s amazing to share this experience with each other. When something doesn’t go how we planned we can look to each other for support, and when we have a victory we can celebrate together (which is way more fun AND no champagne is wasted!)