Mother-Daughter Business Duos That Prove Success Is A Family Affair
Believe it or not, Mother-daughter bonds have gotten stronger over the pandemic. In a 2020 Wall Street Journal article, a survey detailed how 63% of people said that the “mother and daughter” relationship in the family is flourishing the most. There’s no doubt the relationship between a mother and a daughter can be a close-knit bond. Moms can be teachers, healers, and guides in times of need. In the same vein, daughters are the extension of a new generation, paving the way forward to the future. And when mother-daughter duos share a passion for business and creating, this dichotomy can prove to be a recipe for success.
Working with a parent or child also transforms the traditional relationship, presenting new roles and dynamics that perhaps weren’t there before. And though this in itself may come with its challenges, surprisingly enough, its benefits can often outweigh the difficult obstacles these duos face.
Proof of these benefits are the powerful mother-daughter duos (and trios!) highlighted ahead. In addition to succeeding in their businesses, the five hard-working teams are experts at knowing how to make the most of working with a family member. More importantly, they reveal to TZR their successes in the businesses they share and how their relationship as mother and daughter often works in their favor. Of course, every business can have its speed bumps, but these duos confirm that hurdles might look smaller when you work together with someone you trust and love.
House Of Aama
As one of the recent winners of the 2021 CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund, House of Aama is a a rapidly rising star in the fashion industry. The seeds of House of Aama were planted way back when Akua Shabaka was in high school, selling upcycled vintage garments on her Etsy shop. Her mother, Rebecca Henry (a former attorney), helped with the sewing and cutting of the orders. “That was the start of our partnership,” says Shabaka to TZR. “My mother is a craftswoman. House of Aama was very different at the time, but the mission remains the same. The brand is an expression of history, exploration of stories and identity.”
Moving on from the vintage resale market, the mother-daughter business duo started their company by designing timeless garments informed by historical research, archival analysis, and storytelling. Shabaka adds, “We aim to evoke dialogue, social commentary, and conversations around heritage and remembrance and shed light on nuanced histories, specifically in the African content and diaspora.”
When asked about a favorite memory she shares with working with her daughter, Henry points to this pivotal time of new growth for House of Aama. “As someone now in their second act in life, after being a practicing attorney for years, it brings me joy seeing our name and garments in major publications, magazines, and in the same room with designers I admired for years,” Henry explains. There’s also something to be said about reaching a coveted career milestone like a CFDA award with your daughter or mother. “I remember grabbing my mother’s hand tight and doing our first-ever walkout,” Shabaka says. “The cheers, smiles, and applause were so emotional, and I was so happy to have her as a partner by my side.”
For Bernadette and daughter Charlotte De Geyter, it seems like starting a fashion line together was always in the cards. The duo launched the successful dress label Bernadette in 2019 in Antwerp, Belgium, where they are both from. Charlotte explains that after she graduated from Antwerp’s fashion academy, she realized she wanted to start something with her mother. “I had moved to London, and we called each other every day,” recalls Charlotte. “We have always had a close relationship and shared the same vision of fashion. We knew we had a special story to tell and couldn’t wait any longer to start”.
Even when it came to creating the brand identity, Bernadette and Charlotte both worked together to create the vision. “I had drawn and painted my whole life, so I knew we wanted to include this in our brand,” says Charlotte. “I started drawing lots of botanical drawings, which later I translated into the prints of our first collection. These prints have become one of our brand’s signatures.”
Bernadette’s contribution is embedded in the brand’s hero product: dresses. “We also always knew we loved dresses, just the ease of throwing on a dress and not thinking about it for too long,” explains Charlotte. “My mum had always gathered a beautiful archive of dresses she took care of for so long. This consisted of pieces from my grandmother, vintage nightgowns, second-hand designer dresses, etc. We had a lot to work with, and all these elements have become the foundation of our brand.”
Bernadette, who carries the role of co-founder and creative director, takes pride in her daughter’s work ethic and ability to take on multiple responsibilities within the business. “Charlotte is hyper-focused and loves to take on new and different challenges,” she says. “She can switch from designing and being in her world to meetings with the accountants and talking about finance. She’s a chameleon.” There’s more to come with this eclectic duo as they continue creating more colorful, unique, and exciting pieces, but the special mother-daughter bond will always be the heart of the Bernadette brand.
Dr. Barbara Sturm
“Combating inflammation has been a central target of my entire medical career,” says Dr. Barbara Sturm, the founder and CEO of her eponymous brand, Dr. Barbara Sturm. The German aesthetics doctor is well known for her non-surgical anti-aging skin treatments, creating several award-winning beauty products. After she invented her first doctor-issued blood plasma-based cream, called MC1, and prescribed it to her patients, they started asking her to create an entire skin care regimen. And so, Dr. Barbara Sturm, the skin care line, was born.
Eventually, Dr. Sturm’s passion for the company rubbed off on her daughter, Charly, who is the vice president of brand development for the company. “It ended up being a natural process for me to join full time when I finished school because of how passionate and inspired I was by everything my mom did,” says Charly Sturm to TZR.
Dr. Sturm sees her daughter as the next generation of the company. “Her perspectives and insights are invaluable,” Dr. Sturm says. “And I trust her great taste and instincts.” When asked how they manage a balance in working together, Charly says it’s about ensuring you’re not stepping on each other’s toes. “I think we handle that well by keeping a lot of our working relationship separate — I work in different business areas and on different projects than my mom,” Charly adds. “There are, of course, things we collaborate on too, but it feels like that happens organically. Because we want to.” The best part about working with her mom? Spending time with her, of course. “When we travel together for work or attend events together, we make a powerful team — it’s an amazing feeling,” says Charly. “I’m grateful that we get to do this business together.”
Interior Design By S&S
Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, Sharon Falcher and Sherica Maynard are the mother-daughter team leading interior design firm Interior Design By S&S. The duo focuses on “liveable luxury” and designing a functional yet inviting home their clients can find peace in.
After years of working in the design industry, running a window treatment fabrication workroom and interior design franchise, Falcher decided to start her own venture. With her daughter Sherica Maynard newly graduated from design school, the mother and new business owner saw an opportunity and asked her child to join forces with her. The rest, as they say, is history. The two now share leadership in a successful firm focused on residential and commercial interior design.
For Maynard (who serves as the company’s creative director), her mother’s attention to detail made the transition from college student to business partner a smoother one. “It's great having someone with so much experience and knowledge in this industry,” she says to TZR. “This made the transition super easy because mom is organized, so when I moved, she already had systems in place that were easily replicated so that I could thrive as well.” Falcher is equally enthusiastic about working alongside her daughter, saying she fills in the gaps she’s unable to fill for the brand, with the two ultimately complementing each other’s strengths.
“Having someone you can trust and count on is great,” says Falcher. “Sherica is very reliable. They say it's important when you hire to hire [someone whose strength is] your weakness, and Sherica fills in the gaps where I lack.” When asked about any struggles faced at the beginning of working together, Falcher says boundaries were something they struggled with initially. “It's hard to play the role of mom and boss because those are both traditional roles but in different ways,” she explains, noting the importance of recognizing when it’s appropriate to assume those separate roles. “We understand each other's boundaries which makes our work and personal relationships work so well.”
Monica Rich Kosann
Based out of Connecticut, Monica Rich Kosann is a high-end jewelry brand focused on making timeless pieces that are not just beautiful but empowering and inspiring for the consumer. Monica, who’s had a 30-year career as a portrait photographer, founded the brand in 2003 with her husband. Nearly 20 years later, her now-grown daughters Danielle and Laura have joined the team, making up the creative side of MRK (Danielle is currently the artistic director, and Laura, though involved in other projects outside of MRK, leads the brand’s video content strategy). “I have so much respect for my daughters,” says Monica to TZR. “I barely touch some parts of the business nowadays, allowing us to work on projects together while still assuming different roles and responsibilities.”
The mother and jewelry designer was always inspired by her own eclectic collection of vintage accessories and jewelry and the personalization of them all. After initially selling sourced vintage pieces to her photography clients, she found a niche market in lockets and charm necklaces that propelled her to go full-time with MRK. More importantly, she realized how successful the brand was at identifying with multiple generations, including her daughters,’ who became quick fans of the brand. “I knew my jewelry was speaking to all generations when my daughters would constantly borrow my jewelry,” says Monica.
Working together as a team came naturally to Monica and her daughters, given their already close relationship. “My daughters have always been my inspiration for the brand; who’s going to be more honest with you about whether something looks good or not than your own daughters?” says Monica. When Danielle became a mother for the first time, Monica wanted to gift her a unique, one-of-a-kind locket. But Danielle wanted something more simple than the signature MRK locket. The new mom wanted an everyday piece that was sleek, yet still stayed true to the vintage MRK look and feel. Ultimately, this initial custom gift from mother to daughter became one of the brand’s best-selling collections, The Slim Locket collection.
Danielle herself says collaborating with her mother has always been rewarding, and having the ability, to be honest, is something she values when working with her. She says: “Our tastes are very similar, but by working together, we can add our perspective to the brand to make it multigenerational, which is ultimately what makes the MRK brand so special.”