8 Couple-Preneurs Share Their Secret Sauce To Working And Living Together

Eight power couples talk about running a food business together while keeping the romance alive.

Team ZZ

On Valentine’s Day, we take a look at eight relationships that have evolved as the ultimate partnership goals—these couple-preneurs are not only beacons of true love, but also paragons of business acumen and entrepreneurship.

Scroll on to read about the love story of eight couples who reveal their secret of staying in love and striking the right balance of being business partners as well as partners in real life:

1. Gauri Devidayal and Jay Yousuf, Food Matters Inc.

The power couple behind Mumbai’s successful restaurant, The Table, Gauri and Jay met in 2008, got married in 2010, and opened The Table in 2011 which celebrated its ninth anniversary in 2019. Along with The Table, the couple has also opened a multi-use kitchen and venue, Mag Street Kitchen, an experimental kitchen and co-cooking space in Byculla. Their latest venture, Miss T, a South-East Asian restaurant is the newest kid in town and an ambitious project with longtime friends and owners of Neighbourhood Hospitality.

Challenges of Working Together

The biggest challenge of working together is leaving business matters at work and personal matters at home; not letting the occasional (and inevitable) conflict in one affect the other. One has to make a conscious effort to keep the two separate and sometimes remind each other that family is more important. On the flip side, it’s great to be able to divide and conquer our joint responsibilities in the office and at home.

Keeping the Romance Alive

By not talking about work! We love to travel, so we take off at any opportunity that comes our way, sometimes even without the kids.

Cherished Valentine’s Day Memory

I think the best part is that we celebrate being together throughout the year, and not just once a year. But I do remember our first Valentine’s Day together when we went to our favourite restaurant at the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai. Jay surprised me with a precious gift—a  wallet which I absolutely loved and still use to date—10 years later, shares Gauri.

2. Savi Munjal and Vidit Taneja, Bruised Passports

Travel bloggers, Savi and Vidit, fell in love when they were in high school, and have been travelling across the globe ever since, exploring offbeat destinations, local experiences, culture, and food. The journalist-photographer duo has been together for 12 odd years and has covered more than 80 countries. But it was only in 2015 that they quit their cushy corporate jobs to take up travel blogging as a full-time profession. In the process, they’ve given TEDx Talks and have been featured in several acclaimed travel magazines and journals as well as on television.

Challenges of Working Together

Having to make decisions and spend most days together becomes challenging because one doesn't know where to draw the line between personal and professional life. But over the years, we've managed to work them out by clearly defining roles at work. We try to maintain work-life balance by consciously taking digital detoxes, not bringing unfinished work to the dinner table, and such other conscious efforts.

Keeping the Romance Alive

The key to keeping the romance alive lies in honest communication and celebrating the little things in everyday life. Marriage isn’t all about duties, being ‘tied down’ or becoming one soul! It’s actually about celebrating your individualities, being financially independent people supporting each other’s dreams, giving each other strength when all hope is lost, and most importantly having fun together, every single day for the rest of your lives.

Cherished Valentine’s Day Memory

We aren't big on celebrating occasions as we are big believers in celebrating the ‘everyday’ instead. However, last year we spent the day sipping sundowners on a small island in Indonesia, which was truly memorable.

3. Apeksha Jain and Rishab Suresh, The Gourmet Jar

Apeksha converted her passion for food to a profession in 2012, after she and Rishab came back to India from France. It’s been close to a decade since The Gourmet Jar has become the go-to brand for artisanal preserves and condiments. It was only because Rishabh egged her on after a successful batch of banana jam.

Challenges of Working Together

Being together 24x7 definitely has its own set of challenges. Two people are bound to have differences of opinion at times, and that's a tricky situation to deal with at work. For us, we've earmarked our areas of control, and we discuss the situation and give our opinions, but we're clear who has the final say in which area. We respect each other’s decision in the end. As a couple working together, you sometimes tend to take the other person for granted, and you forget that you're not at home. In such situations, just stepping back and talking to the other person and explaining to them how you feel helps.

Keeping the Romance Alive

We both love travelling, although now we can't completely switch off on holidays, we make sure we take a few short breaks and a long summer holiday every year. That is the time we focus on ourselves and not on the business. Also, we make it a point to not talk about work on Sundays.

Cherished Valentine’s Day Memory

I remember this really fun surprise that Rishab sprung up in the Maldives four years ago. He woke me up at 5:00 am and took me to the tip of a little island we were on and had me look around for a surprise which was buried in sand and had a hint in the form of a wooden stick stuck in the sand. I had to literally burrow my surprise out of sand which was quite fun and unusual!

4. Nathan Harris and Lynn D'Costa, The Hole in the Wall Cafe, Bengaluru

Parents to twin daughters, Nathan and Lynn, opened The Hole in the Wall Café simply because they were disappointed by the breakfasts served at Bengaluru’s restaurants. They took it upon themselves to offer quality fare in a simple, honest and no-frills set up. The All English Breakfast continues to be a bestseller at the café. Over the past decade, they’ve gained two restaurants, ardent fans and loyalists.

Challenges of Working Together

The main challenge is that we often carry our work home and home to work! So, a lot of our conversations end up being work-related and we have to have consciously stop ourselves from letting work become our entire world! It is mostly our kids who pull us away from our work environment. We push ourselves to have family time by going together on holidays and even day trips whenever possible.

Keeping the Romance Alive

It never died!

Cherished Valentine’s Day Memory

During one of our holidays, we happened to spend Valentine’s Day in a beautiful place called Cat Ba Islands in Eastern Vietnam. It was a secluded island with nothing in sight for miles. That was really memorable!

5. Kiran and Yatin Patil, Reveilo Wines

Winemaking was never in the plans for the MBA-wielding couple, Kiran and Yatin. They fell in love with each other in college and said ‘I Do’ six years later. Wine became a common passion in 2004 during a wine exposition in Italy. India’s wine industry was just about seeing the growth spurt then and that was the perfect timing for the duo to start the family-run wine brand in Nashik.

Challenges of Working Together

Yatin overlooks the entire operations and handles the company from a macro perspective, while I handle the sales and marketing function and the micromanagement. We divide work between ourselves, giving each other enough space, whilst working towards a common goal.

Due to our distinct personality traits, the way we approach and resolve any particular issue is quite different, though the end objective is the same. Given our personalities, there are no power struggles between the two of us and that has gone a long way in the overall well-being of working together.

Healthy communication helps to iron out issues while listening to each other helps to resolve most of our differences. There will always be some hits and misses, some sacrifices and adjustments, but in the end, it’s all worth it.

Keeping the Romance Alive

Romance is not about one single day or occasion, but a lot of small things done together. For us, it is always family first! Our two lovely kids come before everything else. At times, keeping the personal and professional roles on the right track may prove to be an uphill task, but we try to minimise the overlapping of roles. Saturday nights are dedicated to our personal time out; be it a movie, or a drink, while Sundays are for family time.

Cherished Valentine’s Day Memory

My most cherished memory is both of us exchanging identically the same greeting card on Valentine’s Day. The only difference was that Yatin gave a printed one, while mine was a handmade one (copied from the original). Need I say anything more about compatibility?

6. Ram Kumar and Valarmathi, The Tiny Foods (YouTube)

Who knew bringing the childhood game of playing with miniature kitchen sets to life would get you fame and popularity one day? This enterprising couple from Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu are YouTube stars who cook typically Indian meals in miniature pots and pans—a phenomenon known as micro cooking. In a little over a year, The Tiny Foods had more than 3,00,000 YouTube subscribers! Ram and Valar are simple folks who work on their passion project only when their daily routine allows them.

Challenges of Working Together

There are many challenges that we face. For starters, my wife Valar works as a Village Administrative Office for the Tamil Nadu Government, which means she spends her weekdays at work. It's only on Sundays that we manage to find time to plan our shoots. However, at times, even our weekends are packed due to family commitments.

This is the reason why we decided to shoot our videos in the wee hours of the morning, around 5:00 am. That's when we start setting up, and once the sun is up, we start our cooking. Second, it’s also tough to plan our outdoor shoots with our one-and-a-half-year-old baby. Working on weekdays as well as on weekends often makes us feel guilty as we don't get much time to spend with him. This is one challenge that we haven't yet managed to overcome.

Third, since we make 'tiny foods' using tiny utensils, the background is very important to us. We prefer natural greenery as it helps make our videos more colourful. However, nowadays it’s difficult to find such places as most of the places are quite dry.

Keeping the Romance Alive

From the day we've been married, I've been living in my hometown on account of my business, while my wife stays with her mother due to her job. It's been two and a half years now that we've been married, but we still live approximately 100 km apart. We only get to meet during the weekends. At times, we both get mad at each other but we make up quickly. One thing that surely makes any relationship work is to keep your egos out of the way and apologise when required.

7. Sameer and Parimita Nagori, Mumbai Food Trail (Instagram)

Sameer and Parimita’s romance blossomed from a meet-and-greet planned for new recruits at their former workplace. It became an impromptu date when the rest of the recruits couldn’t make it. Fast forward to now, the bond that was formed over cottage cheese panino, country lemonade and a chocolate avalanche back then led them to not just share their lives together, but also to pursue their foodie explorations across Mumbai as food bloggers.

Challenges of Working Together

The only challenge we faced when we started working together was the difference in our working styles. We found an easy fix to this by defining our individual roles and responsibilities while completely entrusting each other with the respective decisions we make in our capacity.

Keeping the Romance Alive

The entire purpose of starting a food blog was to be able to spend more time together so that we can keep work alive in-between our romance!

Cherished Valentine’s Day Memory

We were in Koh Samui on a holiday and chose to go scuba diving to Maya Bay on Valentine’s Day. It was our very first dive that opened the doors to a new world for us. It was a mesmerising experience to spend time underwater resonating the same feeling of love while we gazed at the marvels of this new world holding each other’s hands.

8. Meher Vakil and Matt Taff, Natch Snacks

Meher and Matt saw a huge gap in the health snacks marketplace—a gap offering new and yummy snack options—and so the story of Natch Snacks began. The two-year-old startup is a passion project for the two as they juggle full-time jobs in the corporate world. Meher and Matt met while attending Northwestern University, USA and have been together ever since.

Challenges of Working Together

The biggest challenge of working together can be separating the business out from other aspects of life as a married couple. When you are on vacation or just out for a nice meal, it’s hard to switch off from work mode and just enjoy being together. Sometimes it's tough to strike a balance between the personal and the professional because the two are so intertwined.

The way we overcome this is by deliberately carving out time to relax and unwind together. Whether it's playing with our dog or watching our favourite shows, it’s important to find some time in the day to enjoy with one another, and put work aside. Most importantly, you need to be able to admit when you are wrong. Luckily for us, that’s incredibly easy, because Meher is always right!

Keeping the Romance Alive

We keep the romance alive by staying true to the things that made us such a good fit in the first place. While working together can be stressful, the same traits that make us good partners in life also help us in our shared business. We complement each other's strengths, so working together is usually a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.

For us, travel is incredibly important as we both enjoy it a lot. Getting out and experiencing new adventures together is an easy way for us to be reminded of the things we appreciate in each other and why we fell in love in the first place.

Cherished Valentine’s Day Memory

I think one of our most memorable Valentine's Day was when we were in college and had just started dating. I was hoping to impress Meher by booking the fanciest restaurant I could think of in the city, which happened to be a Brazilian Churrascaria. About halfway through the meal, we both realised that stuffing our faces was probably not the most romantic way to spend the holiday, but we didn't care. We drank and laughed and gorged on bacon-wrapped steak until we were both blue in the face. It may not have been a picturesque romantic evening, but it was one of the first steps in our lifelong journey together of enjoying delicious food and loving each other's company.

 

With inputs from Annabelle D’Costa, Shraddha Varma and Sayoni Bhaduri

Photo: Shutterstock
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