The following piece was contributed as part of Business News Daily's byline series:
My husband Jimmy and I have tested our relationship in many ways over the years, from having to date long-distance while we were living in different countries, dealing with multiple moves, and uprooting our lives for one another's work and careers.
We recently took on our next challenge, launching our business Authenticity 50, an American-made e-commerce company. When we got married a few years ago, we tried to outfit our entire apartment in domestic products. However, we could not find high quality American-made bedding. (Turns out it left our shores in the 1980s and went entirely abroad where labor costs and quality were much cheaper.) Since we had no American options, we had to buy a set that was made overseas.
This is our first venture together, and it's steadily growing. Mixing marriage with work isn't for everyone, but it's working for us.
Keeping it stateside
We always buy American-made products whenever possible; the quality is unmatched and it supports domestic jobs and the national economy. When we got married a few years ago, we tried to outfit our entire apartment in domestic products. However, we could not find high-quality American-made bedding.
At the time, Jimmy was ready to move on from his finance job of almost a decade, and wanted to explore being an entrepreneur and having our own business. I was working freelance in television and film, which was never steady.
Could we afford to start a new bedding business online? Would people be interested in our products? What would it be like for him to leave a good-paying steady job, for an uncertain future? Could we work together, and did we even want to? We went back and forth for several months, discussing every scenario.
After extensive research, Jimmy came to me with proof that we could create a viable business with great products. He convinced me to come on board and partner with him. We both believed in the idea, and felt that it was truly unique.
Getting off the ground
In the fall of 2015, we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch our business and test our idea. Without any agency or marketing firm, we made $41,000 for our new business.
By the time 2016 arrived, we finally had inventory to offer our customers, we've been growing every month since.
We've found success by establishing a very solid foundation for our business relationship way before it all began. We openly discussed all of the challenges we'd face, and knew that if we could focus on our long-term goals as we built our business, and minimize the negative, we'd be OK.
We created clear business responsibilities based on our strengths and weaknesses to manage different aspects of the company. Jimmy oversees logistics and operations, website development, maintenance, and online advertising. I handle social media and marketing, brand partnerships and outreach, and customer support. We both contribute to product development and growth strategy and outsource to experts what we cannot handle or manage, like graphic design and PR. By delegating to others, we're able to keep our business running smoothly.
We also constantly keep the big picture in mind. For us, it's to create a future and a lifestyle that we want to lead. We want to have autonomy over our careers, financial flexibility, and personal freedom to do the things we want (i.e. travel, work remotely, spend quality time with loved ones). Just as important, we want to make a real difference with our business, and contribute to the economic growth of our country. Our production process requires hundreds of workers coast-to-coast. It keeps jobs and manufacturing here, and helps revive the long-forgotten domestic bedding industry.
We're extremely happy and grateful that we get to spend so much time together building Authenticity 50. Trust, honesty, and open communication were key factors in helping us get through difficult moments, and keep our relationship healthy and intact. We genuinely enjoy each other's company and we are excited to see where this journey takes us.
About the author:Steph MacDonald is the co-founder of Authenticity 50, an online company that sells American-made luxe bedding at factory-direct prices.
Edited for length and clarity by Shannon Gausepohl. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Contact Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our contributed content program.