Couples in Business, an ongoing series looking at how life is for couples who work and live together
Smooch is a personalised wedding ring service which operates by visiting customers in their own homes. This distinctive service was founded by Stephen Slade, who first worked in the jewellery business as a teenager. Stephen’s extensive jewellery industry experience led him to set up Smooch.
12 years on and Smooch has grown from a one -man-band led business to a reputable brand that now employs 53 staff. Furthermore, this family -run business is amongst the leading personalised wedding ring businesses in the UK.
Stephen set some time aside to reveal what it is like to run a thriving business alongside his wife.
1. What did you both do prior to setting up your business?
I have been in the jewellery trade since the age of 16, starting as a diamond setter, and going into the manufacturing and importing side of jewellery after that. Floss (my wife) took a break from work for a few years to have our children, and then went back to work as the Administrator of a Pet Charity before leaving that to work with me.
2. What was the key motivation for going into business together?
To be honest, I started The Jewellery Collection (now trading as Smooch) on my own and needed some administrative back-up. Floss began to help me after six months. However, it soon became apparent that she could not juggle her work running the Pet Charity together with supporting me in my new business, and looking after two young children, so she gave up the Pet Charity to fully support The Jewellery Collection.
3. Do you have clearly defined roles in the business? If so, what are they?
Yes, I deal with moving the business forward, or as I like to put it “I work on the business not in the business.” I am also involved in recruiting and training new Sales Advisers, seeking new suppliers when necessary, and talking to customers who may have any issues with products or services. Floss deals with staff, producing Adviser monthly statements and dealing with and paying Adviser invoices. She also pays all wedding show organisers for the shows the Advisers attend, and gets involved in the day-to-day running of Smooch.
4. How do you separate your working life from your personal life?
It’s very difficult to separate working life from personal life, and we do often “talk shop” when not at work. However, we both have plenty of outside interests that take up our time.
5. How do you manage any conflict?
We don’t seem to have any conflict. At the end of the day, even though Floss likes to tell people that “Floss is the Boss,” she is totally happy to confirm that in fact I am the Boss and the final decision is always mine.
6. How has your business relationship impacted on your relationship?
Our business relationship has not had a significant impact on our relationship, other than we are together most of the time nowadays, but that’s not a problem and we work well together.
7. Are you stronger working as a team as opposed to separately?
Yes, we really feel we are a good team, each of us having different strengths that work well together.
8. What are the pros and cons of working with your spouse?
Pros and Cons of working with your spouse – very difficult to answer. Pros for us are that we love being together and we work well together. Cons – can’t think of any really.
9. Do you agree when it comes to household chores, childcare and business decisions?
When it comes to decisions, whether they relate to household, childcare (no longer relevant as our children are grown up now) or business decisions – we never tend to disagree. If one of us feels more strongly about something, the other tends to go with that.
10. What advice would you give to couples thinking of going into business together?
Any couples going into business together should be very aware that in a business environment, personal feelings cannot come into the equation. Each must be fully prepared to treat the other as a business colleague or partner and not let it get personal.
For further information about Smooch please visit: www.smoochrings.co.uk