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10 Talks on Collaborating With a Spouse, Partner, or Best Friend

Collaboration can be messy because human nature is messy, and so is the process of creativity. But when the rhythm of trust and accountability strikes a cord and resonates from within, we can be our best selves and do our best work.

We’re entering territory where there are no right answers—only conscious considerations of boundaries, values, personalities, and tactics.

Here are 10 talks from couples, partners, and/or best friends that share how they create together and what enables their creative collaborations to be conducive.

Please enjoy!


1. C is for Collaboration by Jay Grandin and Leah Nelson, CreativeMornings/Oakland


Jay Grandin and Leah Nelson run Giant Ant, a creative studio in Vancouver. Specializing in animation and documentary, Giant Ant has slowly worked its way to being one of the top studios in Canada, with clients like TOMS Shoes, Target, and Facebook—and recognition from the likes of the Clios and ADC awards.

They’re also married. And have newborn twins. If there is one thing these business, life and parenting partners know… it’s how to collaborate.

Creating a context where loving your work is possible is a really important ingredient to collaboration.


2. Bar Owners and Restauranteurs by Jessica & Michael Sanders, CreativeMornings/Austin


As a married couple who own a bar and restaurant together, Jessica and Michael Sanders spend a lot of time in each other’s presence. Like, every minute of every day. So, not only are they in love, they also have to convince 250 people every night that they love them, too. Of course, that kind of face time presents its own challenges. Before long, the business and the “scene” that is the Austin bar community became priorities, and their relationship took a back seat.

This wonderful talk is about how they navigated their journey to stay in love … with both each other, and their careers.

What I gave today is enough. The amount of work that I put out, the amount of love that I put into the world is enough.


3. Don’t Cry Over Spilled Ink by Amy & Jennifer Hood, CreativeMornings/SanDiego


Amy & Jennifer Hood of Hoodzpah Design Co cover everything from Guts (Nickelodeon), Kanye (Kim’s), Couches (Ross Geller’s), and being thankful for imperfect scenarios and the unique solutions they foster.

Sometimes you have to start at a really shitty job just to know what you don’t want to do, and to just get to the next point. So don’t be afraid to just start. Just do it. But after you’ve just done it, just redo it.


4. INDO by Linsey Burritt and Crystal Glover, CreativeMornings/Chicago


INDO is a Chicago-based design and fabrications firm specializing in site-specific installations created with materials diverted from the waste and recycling streams.

Linsey and Crystal share how they got started and what they learned along the way.


5. Work That Works: A Generation Y Perspective by Monika Frech and Lisa Zoth, CreativeMornings/Berlin


Monika Frech and Lisa Zoth are two of 30 co-founders of the Berlin-based agency Dark Horse Innovation. They created a company that combines autonomy and community in a new way: 30 partners work together without any hierarchies whatsoever, they have an internal award for their best failures and nobody is allowed to spend more than 50% of their work time at Dark Horse. Monika and Lisa show how this approach can make Generation Y knowledge workers more happy and companies more innovative at the same time.

We decided to found a business and got three advices: (1) Never found a company with more than three people (2) Never found a company with your friends (3) Spend all your time for the start-up. We ignored all that advice.


6. Pop&Scott by Poppy and Scotty, CreativeMornings/Melbourne


Pop and Scott are somewhat local legends! Poppy has been a florist for 15 years and in her 12 years in Melbourne has been beautifying homes, events, restaurants and venues across the city. Scotty on the other hand is a trained plumber, and has previously worked in the skate industry in event and team management.

The couple always had a passion for making furniture in the shed for themselves, with a love for beautiful, recalled timbers in refined designs. They created products that they wanted in their home and quite organically crossed over into a furniture making business.

It’s important to think about who, and the kinds of people—whether it’s their art or their personality—what would complement each other so it’s a harmonious environment.


7. Everybody Eats. Everyone Can Be Happy. by No Kings Collective, CreativeMornings/DC


Brandon Hill and Peter Chang run a design-build studio, creative agency and events production company, all rolled into one, called No Kings Collective. In this talk, they riff on the importance of collaboration.

What is ‘exposure?’ It’s something you die of in the wilderness.


8. What Do You Look For in a Collaborator by Aoife Behan and Carol Soutar, CreativeMornings/Edinburgh


Jelly&Gin, ran by Aoife Behan and Carol Soutar, is a creative agency that specialises in brand communication through the creation of food and drink experiences. This creative partnership creates unforgettable edible adventures by fusing the worlds of art and design, sound and light, food and drink.

In this CreativeMornings talk, Aoife and Carol speak on the role of collaboration in their Create:Eat experiences, and how itʼs evolved as their business has evolved.


9. The Many Languages of Milk and Bone by Milk and Bone, CreativeMornings/Montréal [English subtitles]


The popular Montreal duet opens up about the many languages and collaborations they’ve done to develop to create their unique style that is so much more than music.


10. Lessons on Collaboration by Juan Sanchez and Megan Moore, CreativeMornings/Denver


Interior designer Megan Moore and UX designer Juan Sanchez discuss collaborating together to build a new co-working space that helps creative professionals collaborate with each other.

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