I’ve gotten a few questions over the years about what it’s like to work with Mackenzie. Many people who may work traditional office jobs and not see their partner during the day might find it a foreign concept, or imagine themselves constantly bickering or not getting anything done. But as more and more people become self-employed (some figures estimate that 40% of people in the workforce will be freelance by 2020!), I can imagine more couples will go into business together and need to make the same adjustments that Mackenzie and I have. After lots of trial and error (and perhaps a fight or two!) we’ve really gotten down the routine that benefits both our work and our relationship.
For those of you that don’t know our backstory, my husband Mackenzie and I met about 8 or 9 years ago on the set of my makeover show Plain Jane. We began a professional relationship first, then a friendship, and then years later, became a couple! Because of this we were already used to working together, but we still had to learn some lessons once we got married and went into business together full time. Now he’s the brain behind all the visuals you see on the blog and YouTube, so Front Roe has become our family business. Read on for what it’s like to work with your partner, and tips for how to make the most of it!
There are a lot of obvious benefits that result from working with your partner. We get to see each other a lot, and since so much of our work has involved travel it gives us more opportunities to have fun adventures together that we might not have otherwise. And now that we have a family, it allows us to make our own schedules and spend as much time with Honor as possible.
That being said, the line between work and our personal life can get very easily blurred, so it’s important to set boundaries and hold a special place for our romantic and family relationship. We try not to do any work chat before bed – in fact, we try to have a cut off time after dinner that is just reserved for us and our family. But sometimes it’s just not possible, and that’s not always bad – every so often we’ll open a bottle of wine and come up with our most creative filming ideas so far! Additionally, we try to take meetings or work out of the house as much as possible, so that there’s some degree of separation between our personal and professional lives.
It’s important when you work with your partner to be hypersensitive to how you’re treating each other. We sometimes catch ourselves being impatient – especially during shoots. Mackenzie loves to ask me if I’d speak to another photographer in the same way – oops, ok, fair point. It can be easy to be snappy or short with each other in ways that you wouldn’t with another colleague, but it’s important to maintain respect, as resentment or anger can creep in without it. If you need a break, grab lunch with a girlfriend, call your mum up on the phone, or even take yourself on a shopping date. Sometimes you just need a breather – and they probably do too! We’re all human.
In my opinion, successful communication is the most important factor to any business or romantic relationship – so it’s especially important when you work with your partner. Never assume they’re a mindreader or ‘should’ know what you’re thinking or what you want. Always be clear and upfront. Communicate priorities and deadlines – in fact, share your calendars with each other (whether digital or paper) so that you’re always on the same page, and have regular check ins to see if there’s anything the other person might need from you.
Just like a traditional company has a mantra or manifesto, the two of you should too. You can set your short and long term goals, and establish your own company policies that you adhere to – whether it’s about responsibilities, workflow or attitudes. We’ve found this to be extremely helpful – when everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing it takes out some of the chaos and guesswork that comes along with running your own company. Also, when we have our shared goals in mind we can keep each other on track and make sure we’re moving towards them as a couple and business partners.
Do any of you guys work with your partners? I’d love to hear about your experiences below!