How to Partner Up and Crush It

CLEARstem's co-founders discuss how they stay grounded and connected as their business takes off.
How to Partner Up and Crush It
Image credit: Courtesy of CLEARstem

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Founder and CEO of GG Publishing & Media
5 min read
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It's one thing to weather a storm with your business partner. But how do you keep a partnership solid when business is booming?

Danielle Gronich and Kayleigh Christina, co-founders of CLEARstem Skincare, have been busy building their business and featuring at FounderMade's Discovery Show. They partner well, and still find time for individual pursuits, such as Kayleigh's bestselling book Healing with Apple Cider Vinegar, and Danielle's writing for Forbes and Buzzfeed.

Related: Meet 12 Young Founders Who Are Disrupting the Way Business is Done

Here the powerful beauty entrepreneurs share a few key lessons from their partnership.

1. Be emotionally intelligent and kind

“Working so closely together, we have to be conscious and aware of each other’s moods," Kayleigh says. "I'm usually very upbeat and energetic. But some days I'm not my happy-go-lucky self. I come into the office and say, ‘I’m not feeling 100 percent, but I’m ready to crush it.’ I like to address the mood I’m in so Danielle doesn’t take it personally, and we can get to work without walking on eggshells. We are both very socially aware of our emotions and our attitudes.” 

2. The 80/20 rule

“We recently implemented an 80/20 rule," Danielle explained. "If it's something like formulation of our CLEARstem products, which is my specialty, or creating a product that I know people are going to be obsessed with, it’s all mine. I know what goes into that because that's what I do at the San Diego Acne Clinic all day long. I work with hundreds of people and I’m constantly asking them, “Why do you love this product?' or ‘What do you wish we had?’. I get unsolicited feedback from them on what they absolutely love, too. So, when I'm creating a product and thinking about all its sensory applications, if Kayleigh is 80 percent OK with the formula as is and I love it, then we get to go ahead with it. On the flip side, if there's something creative or branding-related, or if it involves the planning of a photo shoot, as long as I’m 80 percent OK with the decision, we move ahead with it. We have found the 80/20 rule applies to a lot of things, even with customer service. Is it going to be exactly how I would have done it? No. But if it's 80 percent of the way I would have done it, it's good enough. Otherwise, perfection will get in the way of our progress."

Related: The Young Founder Behind a $100 Million Luxury Travel Business

3. Reconnect to your passion to fuel your confidence

“The passion we had for helping people," Kayleigh says, "far outweighed any possible fear and doubt we had when creating CLEARstem. We knew the product was so needed. We knew the education Danielle was providing at the San Diego Acne Clinic was changing people's lives by changing their skin. So in that way, it was already a proven success. In starting CLEARstem we just wanted to bring the education and the products to a larger audience so we could reach more people and make a bigger impact. When it comes to the business, we each have our own special skill set, and we've done a really good job in respecting and recognizing that within each other. In loving and respecting each other, we can really get into our individual grooves."

4. The customer matters most

“At the end of the day, as co-founders, our common goal is the success of the company and the impact we make on our consumers," Danielle says. "This is always in the front of our minds in everything we do. So, as long as we're keeping this common goal in mind, we let each other do what we each love doing and what we're each really good at."

Related: Creating a Customer-centric Brand

5. Celebrate the big moments together

“Together, we have to pause and say, ‘This is so cool’ when big things happen," Danielle says, "like our product being ranked number one in Women’s Health magazine. We knew it was possible, but it’s so important to reflect on how far we’ve come."

6. Remember your baseline

“Don’t get too caught up in the good or bad," Kayleigh added. "Keep your head in the clouds, creativity-wise, but your feet grounded. Stay in the operational procedures, and stay focused on your customers.” 

As an entrepreneur, there will be many big moments in your future. I hope Danielle and Kayleigh’s insight into their partnership helps you create a more solid foundation as you move into the next phase of your adventure. My personal favorite tip of their: the 80/20 rule (the inner control freak in me needs that 20 percent to trust my team).

And by all means: Celebrate! But then get back down to earth, and keep crushing it in your business.

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