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I'm Married To My Business Partner: 3 Couples On Why and How It Works

Meet three couples who took the leap into entrepreneurship together and see their blueprints for blending heart and hustle.


By Niema Jordan · March 22, 2017

This feature originally appeared in the April 2017 Issue of ESSENCE Magazine.



Catrina, 42, and Shawn, 47, have created a one-stop shop for artists and businesses. With the degrees between them-an M.S.W., a D.Th., an M.B.A., an M.S. and a J.D. on the way-the husband-and-wife team leverage their many skills as consultants while running a nonprofit (Catrina) and working in corporate America (Shawn). They also produce content from live entertain­ ment events. "If you get one, you get the other one," says Catrina. "Whether he's in the front or back, trust me, he's got his hands somewhere in the business."


GETTING THE KIDS INVOLVED TOO: "Families are so busy in 'how can I make money?' or 'I have to work' and our kids become latchkey," says Catrina. "You can take your children's strengths. give them a voice and incorporate them in some way into your business."


THEIR TOP TIP: "Plan well," advises Shawn. "Make sure that you lay out how the business is going to work, how the decisions are going to be made. Get all of that up front and out front as quickly as possible."

EGAMI GROUP, New York City


Corporations looking to tap into audiences of color know to go to the award-winning Egami Group, run by Teneshia, 40, and Michael, 50. (They have been married for eight years.) A multicultural communications agency, Egami has served leading companies such as HBO. Major League Baseball and Verizon. Teneshia launched the business solo-with Russell Simmons as her first client. As it grew, Michael stepped in and helped her elevate to the next level. "We view Egami as a child we're raising together," Michael says. "The love that we have for each other is able to build and nurture that child."


LEANING ON LOVE: On their first date. Michael asked Teneshia about her heart's desires. "I trusted him with them," she says. "Every single day we wake up, we're working together to create this dream. It's energizing. Couples often finish each other's sentences . We can be in a boardroom and look in each other's.


THEIR TOP TIP: Schedule work-free couple time. In the beginning the pair toiled nonstop. "It doesn't lend itself to keeping romance going," says Michael. "We did get a lot of work done and the business grew fast." Now the two have real vacations .



When Michelle, 32, a double Dutch world champion, told Sean, 39, how good she was with the ropes and that she could teach anyone to jump in under a minute. he was supportive. But seeing her in action changed everything. He encour­aged Michelle to hold workshops. And when she needed a partner to keep the classes going, hubby Sean went all in. The couple now host classes in Brooklyn and Atlanta, sell their own custom double Dutch ropes and tour the country doing workshops. "It's so dope to be able to work with your partner," says Sean. "We get to inspire people and push them past their limits.That's our job."


CARVING OUT TIME FOR SELF: "It's important in a relationship to have a little individual something for you," notes Michelle, citing prayer, meditation and journaling as her main practices. "But I still want him downstairs when I finish."


THEIR TOP TIP: "Both of you have to love it. You can't do this as a favor, or you will have some resentment," says Michelle. "You have to want to do it for individual reasons and then you come together to do it."