‘I do.’ Those two words conjure up visions of wedding fayre, flowers, cake, brides, grooms. Marriage is a serious decision, complete with signed government documents and promises related to health and finances. If you break down a co-founder relationship, what you’ll find is a lot of those same critical components. Hours of time spent together on a daily basis for an undetermined but nevertheless significant amount of time; finances tied to each other; and a never-ending stream of contracts and other legal documents you both are signed and tied to. And don’t forget the countless conversations, squabbles, laughs and tears that woven together create the fabric of a relationship that can, hopefully, stand the test of time.
Dominika Minarovic, one of the co-founders of BYBI Beauty, knows that choosing the right business partner is like choosing the right life partner: it all starts with a foundation of respect and admiration.
“I was always like equal parts fearful slash pure admiration of Elsie. And I think that’s a great combo, obviously not fearful of her anymore, but Elsie has a presence when she walks into a room. Everyone will stop and listen. And I think that’s really powerful. I saw someone that I really admire. Elsie and I have really, really been through the wars. Like we’ve done some hard graft and I don’t think at any point, have I ever heard a complaint come out of her mouth? We have carried boxes up like 10 flights of stairs. We’ve started offices in broom closets.
This kind of partnership is like any relationship: it has to go both ways. That mutual respect for each other is what you’ll need to remember and fall back on when crises pop up. But as Dominka’s co-founder, Elsie Rutterford will say, there’s also got to be an equal level of commitment to the work.
“The word hustle. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will see Dominika Minarovic’s name sat underneath that. So she was a hustler through and through. And I really liked that about her. And I think like the hard working ethic. Yeah. And the way that she applied herself, I was like, definitely somebody that I would want to work with.”
Respect, trust, and common dreams. These are some of the elements that are sprinkled through the story of how Elsie and Dominika found each other and developed their business together. But what else goes into a good co-founder relationship? And how did Elsie and Dominika find the answer throughout their journey to bring their beauty brand, BYBI, to the world? Find out this week on The Journey.
- A Match Made in Heaven: When you have the right co-founder by your side, there are limitless benefits. You can be there to support each other. You can share the burden of the responsibilities and daily tasks of running the business — especially valuable in the early stages. You can also share more empathy for each other, going through life changes and unexpected circumstances. You can share the financial responsibilities and take on less personal risk. But most importantly, by having a co-founder, you share a passion and drive toward a common goal and that can make your business strong enough to last.
- Disruption Takes Passion and Authenticity: Being passionate about the product or market you’re working in is a huge advantage because it makes you naturally think about what you want to get as a consumer. Having a deep-rooted passion about something that you want to change or dispel in that industry will make you more creative and effective in your work there.
- A Launching Pad: Your business might not evolve in the way you expect. There are many different ways for a brand to launch, whether that’s through a blog, a social media account, a book deal, or anything in between. No matter how people begging to know you or your brand, the most important thing you can do is recognize the opportunity in front of you and find a way to capitalize on it in a meaningful way.
“We knew these ingredients were really profound and could have a great impact on the skin. We quite quickly saw a gap in the market for a brand that delivered efficacy, delivered ethics, but still felt like a mainstream PC brand that was affordable. The early brands that came to market around clean and natural (Tata Harper, Drunk Elephant) always came with a premium price tag. For us that felt a bit disingenuous because we wanted to make our products widely available. If you come with a premium price tag, you’re indicating that you have to be wealthy in order to have healthy, good skin and we really wanted to dispel that myth.”
“We both had babies within seven and a half weeks of each other. Dominika had her boy in December and I had my son in January. That has put a whole new spin on entrepreneurship. Being mothers, throwing that into the mix.”
“When you are two people, the chances of you both being on a downer at the same time are quite slim. Therefore [you’re] there to cheerlead and champion [each] other to get back up and get on their feet.”
“They don’t hand out book deals so to have that many people in the industry kind of falling over themselves to publish our book was a real moment for us. It really cemented the fact that we were onto something.”
“I remember getting that term sheet. That fundraise had been quite difficult. To get a term sheet from Unilever ventures when your business is tiny was just amazing. It really was amazing to have such an institution say that they want to put money into our business.”
“We found a manufacturer that we wanted to work with that we were really excited about. Everybody said to us, ‘You need 9 to 12 months before you’ll get a product onto any retailer shelves.’ And we said, no. We want to do it in two months. So we set out and we did it.”
Dominika Minarovic, cofounder of BYBI, is a natural beauty lover, DIY expert and natural skincare formulator. She co-founded Clean Beauty Co with Elsie Rutterford, a natural beauty brand based out of London, empowering individuals to take control of what they put on their skin. Before stepping into beauty, Dominika worked in digital advertising and knows more about ad tech than she cares to share. The brand regularly appears in the pages of the Evening Standard, Red Magazine, In Style and the Daily Mail and she also co-hosts annual event Clean Cult. She grew up in Australia and Hong Kong, but currently lives in London with her husband and son.
Elsie Rutterford, cofounder of BYBI, is also a natural beauty expert. Her career background is in advertising, specialising in digital media. Elsie is a self-confessed beauty junkie, natural skincare formulator and food fanatic. She’s based in London with her husband and son.
This season of the Journey is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by UPS. To learn how UPS can help your small business, go to UPS.com/pivot.