We’re fast approaching some big anniversaries. Simon and I debuted Macaron Parlour at the Hester Street Fair on April 25, 2010. Less than two years later, we were married on April 21, 2012.
We met at the end of 2009 and how foolish are we to start a business with someone we had known for less than 6 months? We were virtual strangers, but we were convinced that we were in love and that we could have fun running a business together. And both are true.
When we started, there were things I wanted to do and things that Simon wanted us to be. The thing is, back then, we had time, but no experience or money and no idea how to get there. So we just tried and tried and cried and hoped for the best. We wasted a lot of time and a lot of resources. I think there have been many boats that we’ve missed, many opportunities that were lost, and but I’m not sure if we would have even known what to do had we seized those moments.
It’s an adventure to try something new with someone you barely know. We’re lucky that it worked out because if it didn’t, we would have a double failure on our hands. I don’t think either of us would have been able to work together despite a failed relationship and I don’t think our relationship could have handled our business not working out because we probably would have blamed each other. We either had to have a double success or a double failure and we were lucky.
We’re now six years into a business and four years into a marriage. We have learned some very important things. They are outlined below.
- We try to resolve fights before going to sleep. Or else Simon will fall asleep instantly and I will stew about it all night. And then I will be even MORE mad!
- I am right 100% of the time. Sometimes, I am less right than other times, but I am still right. The wife is always right.
- It’s best to have a division of labor. Seeing Simon make a batch of macarons or me training someone at an outdoor market is like seeing a narwhal in NYC.
- We’re a team, so the big things have to be done together. But you also have to learn how to work independently. And learn how to deal with the fact that your home spouse is the same as your work spouse; you can’t go home and vent about your work partner to your spouse when they are the same person. Find another outlet!
- Sometimes, you have to go with your gut feeling. Thinking more will dull natural ability.
- Remember what it was like when you got your first job and you had to scrape gum off the floor or some other task unrelated to whatever you were hired for? Don’t ever forget because that will make you a better boss.
- Get to know your staff and make sure they know that you also started at the gum scraping level of your own business. Also, don’t be afraid to sometimes scrape the gum in front of them so that they know there is no such thing as being “above” an activity. I’ve done some really cool things, but I still spend my Saturday and Sunday mornings trying to judge the quality of the cat poo at Meow Parlour.
- If you plan things out to the last detail, you’ll inevitably be disappointed. It’s best to plan for a general idea or gist and be excited when things turn out better than planned. This was especially valuable for our wedding.
- You’re never ready for anything. Just accept that. Be prepared to just deal with it.
- There are more people who steal out of the tip jar in the Upper West Side and more people who try to pass off money they printed on their home printer in the East Village.
- Listen to people’s questions. Sometimes they will ask you something that you never would have thought of before and that can change everything. Once, Emilie asked me why NYC doesn’t have a cat café and the answer was to build it.
- There is nothing easy about owning a business. My idea of a true vacation involves sitting on the beach (under an umbrella because I burn), completely passed out to the world. I haven’t done this since before I met Simon, and thinking about this now gives me anxiety because I wonder what will happen if something goes wrong at the stores and I’m unplugged from cell service! Thinking about going on vacation gives me anxiety!
- Before any big life change, try to do the vacation thing! Because things will not be the same afterwards. The longest trip we have ever been on was actually before we got married.
- Be open to the unexpected. Sometimes, your big break will come out of nowhere and sometimes, you’ll walk into a flood. That’s just life. And if you’re lucky, you’ll walk home and find a dirty cat and your life will change forever.
- Socks, one of our cats, takes priority over any fight we’re having. If he throws up, the fight is done.