Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast


The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 13: Secrets to creating a thriving business partnership

Jodie de Vries & Emma Scott

Brand Brigade

February 22, 2022
Starting a business with a friend or colleague isn’t all about cocktails by the beach. You need to make sure that you assess the viability of your business relationship. A great business partnership is just like a great relationship. It takes chemistry, commitment and respect for what the other person is bringing to the table to make it work. Business partnerships in the small business space have grown exponentially since the beginning of COVID as a way of staying connected and staying afloat.Jodie de Vries and Emma Scott created their business partnership almost a decade ago and are a shining example of what it takes to create a thriving business with your best friend. Brand Brigade, is a marketing consultancy company they founded together and are giving back years of combined corporate advertising agency experience and intel to women starting out in the small business world.So, what did Jodie & Emma have to stop doing individually in order to make their business work together? What are the most transferable skills between business life and the other aspects of life? And what is the real secret to making a partnership that's both rewarding and successful?Listen Here!


Brand Brigade

The Hunger Project

Quick Start Marketing Plan - by The Brand Brigade


Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Jodie & Emma, Brand Brigade

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Episode 13 Transcript

00:01:11:01 - 00:01:28:01

Carrie Kwan

A great business partnership is just like a great relationship. It takes chemistry, commitment and respect for what the other person is bringing to the table to make it work. Business partnerships in the small business space have grown exponentially since the beginning of COVID as a way of staying connected and staying afloat.

Today's guests created their business partnership almost a decade ago and are a shining example of what it takes to create a thriving business or in this case, two, with your best friend. Jodie de Vries and Emma Scott are the Brand Brigade, a marketing consultancy they founded together and are giving back years of combined corporate advertising agency experience and intel to women starting out in the small business world.

00:01:53:16 - 00:02:09:23

Lucy Kippist

In short, the Brand Brigade are our kind of women. Not only are Emma and Jodie, experts in the industry with a great reputation, they have managed to work together successfully for almost 20 years. So what's the secret here? We are curious, too, so let's find out.

Jodie and Emma, Welcome to the Mumbitious Podcast.

Emma Scott

Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Jodie de Vries

Thanks for having us, Lucy. So nice to be here.

00:02:18:06 - 00:02:35:15

Carrie Kwan

Jodie, we're really excited to have our chat today, and our first question to business-owning women is always to hear her pitch. We feel that women should embrace this everyday opportunity, that they have to make introductions and connect with customers and people who can propel their business forward.

So please, may we invite you to share your elevator pitch.

00:02:39:09 - 00:02:58:15

Jodie de Vries

Thanks, Carrie. Well, you know, owning a business, it's really hard, right? It can be really overwhelming. So many decisions to make so much you need to know. Many competing priorities. So it's really easy to veer off track or struggle to gain traction or keep that traction once you actually get it.

And failure rates of small businesses are really, really scary. So with the brand brigade, we've taken a decade of experience. Not that I want to sound too old. We've created an education platform that gives women all the brand and marketing knowledge and tools they need to create that success.

Business is really a lot easier when you've got clarity about who you are, what you do, but most importantly, why anyone should care about what you're doing. So once you got that laser focus, it makes your decisions easier.

So with everything that we're doing now with Brand Brigade, we're basically on a mission to empower every female business owner with what they need to create the business and in turn, the life that they really dream of.

00:03:48:17 - 00:04:04:02

Carrie Kwan

I think as a small business owner it is such a massive value to focus on your marketing because you're being pulled in so many different directions. It’s really important work. What do you love most about your business right now?

00:04:04:07 - 00:04:21:14

Jodie de Vries

What I really love is being able to help other women in business. I've always been really passionate about the success of women. But now that we have created this and we can actually proactively contribute to that, not only through the work that we do, but also with our partnership with The Hunger Project. It's really awesome.

00:04:23:18 - 00:04:25:00

Carrie Kwan

Tell us about the partnership.

00:04:25:09 - 00:04:44:06

Jodie de Vries

So what we've done? We launched the Brand Brigade to be profit-for-purpose, so 10% of any profits go straight to The Hunger Project. And what they do is they have epicentres in other countries where they're empowering women in those communities to create change in more disadvantaged circumstances.

So it's twofold really for us, the work that we're doing to help women, which we're really grateful to be able to give back.

00:04:58:06 - 00:05:10:11

Lucy Kippist

You guys have an extraordinary commitment to paying it forward because obviously, you've established the business with that principle in mind.

You both worked in corporate agencies and you saw that there was another group of people. And now you're expanding into that. It's such a generous way of approaching business. I'm wondering, you're obviously very busy and you have a lot going on here.

That, of course, is very visible on Instagram. I'm wondering what it is that you've had to stop doing in order to make your businesses or your business work together?

00:05:21:11 - 00:05:43:17

Emma Scott

Well, that it's a very interesting question. The biggest thing for us is that we're perfectionists. We have been known to talk for half an hour about a comma. And so we've had to lose this perfectionism to make sure that our businesses move forward at a good pace. It's something we always have to keep in check.

00:05:47:05 - 00:05:57:22

Lucy Kippist

And if you do, you find that just by being conscious of that, it makes it easier to not be? Or is it still something that you really have to set up processes for?

Emma Scott

We put some structure around it and we'll also just call each other out. Let's get this thing done. And we just make sure that we are both conscious of it, but our tendency is to fall back into protectionism. So we just got to be mindful of it. We're both very committed to doing good work. We want to make sure everything we're doing is beneficial for our customers or our clients, and we're committed to that. So I think that's a good thing. It's just going to just go to get the balance right.

00:06:37:03 - 00:06:49:01

Lucy Kippist

That's the thing I think it's being conscious of where do things really need to be right and where does it not matter so much rather than a blanket level of excellence on everything. Absolutely love that.

00:06:49:01 - 00:06:53:09

Jodie de Vries

It does mean that done is better than perfect.

00:06:53:10 - 00:06:56:14

Carrie Kwan

Yeah, I like progress is better than perfection.

00:07:01:09 - 00:07:13:19

Jodie de Vries

But, there's also been a bit of a shift out there in terms of people really appreciating authenticity and wellness. And if you're too polished with everything, sometimes that doesn't feel real. And I think also just to add to that, it's about you also want to be quite customer, a little customer-centric. So by getting something out, that's not quite perfect, but being able to get feedback and respond and you know, in a way, almost co-create is it's going to be more impactful in the long run.

00:07:30:18 - 00:07:45:19

Lucy Kippist

Absolutely. And I think, if we can credit COVID with anything, I mean, at the moment, that feels very difficult. But I think it is that willingness to be a bit more authentic as a brand and to say, things are really tough right now and this is what we're focusing on, tell us what you think. I think that's powerful and your customer feels that they've invested in the business as well.

I have to say a big part of the reason that Mums & Co was founded, obviously, was to support women in businesses and also to incorporate the elements of our other parts of our life with our business. So motherhood, any caring duties we have, our great relationships and how they fold all in together and make our businesses work. So I'm wondering what you guys think are the most transferable skills between your business life and the other aspects of your life?

00:08:18:06 - 00:08:38:11

Jodie de Vries

It's interesting. I think about being a mum and to be honest, business is much easier. So I feel like going from business to motherhood, I was like, whoa! This is a really steep learning curve, but I feel like there are things that I've learned through motherhood that I think has really helped in terms of business. So I think that you become incredibly efficient and I thought I was efficient before, but it just goes next level. So you have to be a real ninja. You've got little pockets of time.

And what is the best thing that you can do with that pocket of time? And then the other thing is, I think being a mom has made me more empathetic as a leader. Life is really busy. It's messy, it's complicated. And I've got more appreciation for that now. Everyone's got a lot more going on, Mum or not, but everyone's got a lot more going on than you might realize. So it's just approaching everything with care and kindness.

00:09:16:24 - 00:09:24:16

Lucy Kippist

Absolutely love that. And I love the connection therebetween being a leader who's comfortable with that. That's been really beautiful.

00:09:24:24 - 00:09:41:15

Carrie Kwan

We couldn't agree more there. And, you know, we certainly couldn't exist without the support of the Co, which is such a broad village set. You know, our partners, our friends, our family, our clients. Tell us about your Co and how they support you.

00:09:41:19 - 00:09:54:24

Jodie de Vries

Well, given we're in lockdown right now, it's really about that tight little Co, isn’t it? So I'd have to say a big part for me is that daily getting out daily for a walk along the beach, which I do with my sister.

It's really good in terms of keeping the sanity in check, just having someone to talk to and get out of the house with. Having three little people in the house and then managing to mostly stay away from my Zoom calls is very helpful.

And then a constant game of calendar Tetris with my husband, like, how do you juggle full-time work and homeschooling and things like that? It's quite the feat. But I think also in terms of our Co, Emma and I, with our other business, Tiny Hunter, which is the branding agency. We've got a third business partner, Jo, and if it wasn't for her being so awesome, we wouldn't have been able to carve out this time that we have for the Brand Brigade. So I'm really grateful to have that as well.

00:10:35:24 - 00:10:38:08

Carrie Kwan

I want to do a quick shout out to the kids as well at the moment and their patients without Zoom calls. Especially depending on what age they are at the moment because I think that's been lovely moments of work often sees or doesn't see that side of your life.

So it's been a big leveler, I think globally that children are part of your day. We don't shut off from being mothers or fathers. So when they do pop in on the odd call, I really encourage people not to apologize for that because, they probably just want to ask a very quick question. Where’s a snack in my boys' case. Can I eat this? Can I?

I think I think it's great and don't apologise for it at the moment. I think it's really encouraging to see people's whole selves at work. So just on your Instagram, I know you mentioned a little bit about our preference for not too many colors, but your photos are full of energy you make being in partnership together look easy and lots of fun. What do you think the real secret is to making a partnership that's both rewarding and successful?

00:11:50:21 - 00:12:05:17

Emma Scott

Well, we always like to think of a business partnership like a marriage, and we know that 50% of marriages don't survive. And I believe the stats are pretty similar to business partnerships. In fact, I think they're probably worse.

So the key to making a business partnership thrive, and as you mentioned, we have know each other for a very long time. And it's about making sure you're nurturing that relationship and giving it that time respect and care that it deserves.

When we do have things that we disagree on are always pretty pictures, and it's meant for us. It's about making sure we can try to step into the other person's shoes and see how they are feeling about the situation. And if we can both do that, then we pretty much always can come to a place of agreement.

I think it's also important that before you go into partnership with someone that you make sure that you've got similar values. For Jodie and I, we would both really care about doing a good job, and we both have a really strong work ethic.

I think if I thought Jodie was on the beach drinking cocktails every day and I was doing all the work or vice versa, that would make a partnership pretty hard. And then lastly, I think it's very important that you carve out time and space to have fun together. We make sure we do that. We always have a good laugh. And I think laughter is great medicine.

00:13:19:11 - 00:13:25:13

Carrie Kwan

There are some great strategies and approaches there and wishing you a long, successful marriage together.

00:13:27:11 - 00:13:36:18

Emma Scott

I actually have my real husband often said to me, Oh my goodness, you spent way more time on WhatsApp with Jodie than you do with me.

00:13:38:19 - 00:13:48:04

Lucy Kippist

I wanted to ask that. I'm curious to know what your spouses feel about your relationship.

00:13:49:03 - 00:14:02:04

Emma Scott

We communicate a lot. Well, I mean, nowadays he doesn't really care anymore because I make it very clear that my relationship with Jodie is just as important as my relationship with him. So he's very respectful.

00:14:02:11 - 00:14:21:06

Lucy Kippist

And you've identified some awesome things about things to consider when you're setting up a partnership in a business. And we know that those partnerships, that is something people are approaching more and more now, which is fantastic. But in that sense, what does that mean in terms of protecting your business from risk, when there are two of you? What kind of considerations have you had to make in that regard?

00:14:23:23 - 00:14:43:10

Emma Scott

Well, actually when we joined forces, we had our own separate businesses. And so the first thing we did was we actually got a cultural expert coming to make sure that it was going to be a good fit. So what it's about is making sure you are getting the right professionals coming into your sphere and that things do go as smoothly as possible. We also have an excellent financial guy, our financial advisor accountant John Ralph, who just made sure that we're both set up for security.

And so it's about getting that good financial and legal structure structures in place so that we're both protected from the risk. Also, the other thing I want to mention is that I think it's really important to have strong communication channels and the right processes in place because that also helps to alleviate problems.

00:15:27:00 - 00:15:42:00

Carrie Kwan

That's an amazing spectrum of risk management there. And I think things that you don't perhaps look at is risk management. But they do set you up for success and they set you up for efficiency. So excellent tips there.

And now I'm going back to your Instagram again because I love your feed. We see lots of references to being keen on rollerblades. My question is, what's an insight into Jodie and Emma that we might not see on social media?

00:16:00:17 - 00:16:18:09

Jodie de Vries

Well, that's a tricky one, because we just tell everyone everything. A lot of people don't know how we first met. I was Emma's design lecturer when she studied design at Design College many years ago.

00:16:19:09 - 00:16:31:06

Emma Scott

And then we actually decided, Oh, we like each other. And so we actually started just rollerblading together. That's kind of how it started.

I remember back in the day I used to rollerblade on these surfaces that were very bumpy. I think there are a lot of falls, but the other thing that people don't know and I find this fascinating is about Jodie is that she actually wanted to be a spy.

00:17:01:16 - 00:17:12:17

Jodie de Vries

Emma really likes to tell that story. And I like to say to people, well, maybe I am a spy.

00:17:14:00 - 00:17:15:11

Carrie Kwan

Reverse psychology.

00:17:15:11 - 00:17:16:17

Jodie de Vries

This is maybe this is a front.

00:17:20:16 - 00:17:36:24

Lucy Kippist

Cool. Speaking of exercise and rollerblading, what's something that you guys do to keep a really good sense of well-being for yourself? Is there something you do daily by yourselves and is this something you do together?

00:17:37:00 - 00:17:49:21

Jodie de Vries

For me, at the moment, it's that daily walk along the beach, which is great. I am actually squeezing in a bit of rollerblading with the kids. We don't at the moment have a practice together unless you count out the endless flurry of WhatsApp messages. That's good entertainment. We still make each other laugh, so that's good. But I think I probably got some strong daily practices you could share because you're very well being focused.

00:17:59:03 - 00:18:13:19

Emma Scott

I like to get up and watch sunrise as much as I can, and I do a morning meditation with that. And then the other thing that I do is I get in the salt water every day, even in winter. So during winter, it is more like cold water therapy, but it makes you feel so good. I was actually in the water before I came on this podcast. You just feel alive. It's really great. Actually, I was at sunrise yesterday, I go down to the rocks near where it is on the water's edge. There was a lovely lady there who I met, who had her cat and she literally took a cat down to do sunrise as well. So it's all creatures out there getting the benefits from sunrise.

00:18:50:00 - 00:19:10:09

Carrie Kwan

Must be why your skin is glowing. You're literally glowing from my screen. Let's turn to those considering starting a business in partnership. What is the most important tip in growing a business?

00:19:10:15 - 00:19:27:06

Emma Scott

Well, we have three tips for making sure you have that shared vision for the future, and that vision may change over time as well. So always check in regularly to make sure that you've got that vision set, making sure you have similar values, which I talked to before. And then also making sure that you find ways to have fun.

00:19:31:12 - 00:19:49:20

Carrie Kwan

I can definitely sense that stream of fun, you know, even in this conversation, so important. Now at Mums and Co we talk about harmony as this triangle of ambition, livelihood and well-being. Could you describe the shape of a good life for you?

00:19:49:21 - 00:20:07:13

Emma Scott

Yes, absolutely. So having a purpose that is tightly connected to your passion, to me that's a good life. So when you're able to wake up every day feeling motivated and good about the work you're doing, then that brings happiness.

00:20:08:02 - 00:20:32:20

Jodie de Vries

So I think for me, I mean, it's tricky the combination of all the things. It's such a juggle, right? And I know people talk about balance and what is that. So I think for me, having that ambition, livelihood, wellbeing, it's about having everything well-integrated and also just being kind to yourself, not putting pressure on yourself. If you're doing one thing feeling bad that you're not doing this thing, just be kind to yourself and try and integrate everything together rather than feeling like you're trying to achieve some unattainable ideal of balance.

00:20:46:07 - 00:21:03:03

Carrie Kwan

Yeah, I love that integration is our version of harmony. It's trying to make everyone, if you think of an orchestra, how do you get all those instruments harmonizing together? So it sounds not to, you know, not too brass or not too screechy. It's a very smooth, smooth integration and harmony. As the exercise.

00:21:10:00 - 00:21:19:21

Lucy Kippist

Emma and Jodie, we know that you guys are very passionate about women supporting women, so we're wondering through the more ambitious that you'd like to say hello to today on our podcast.

00:21:19:21 - 00:21:39:10

Emma Scott

Actually, we'd love to say a big hello to those lovely women who are in your community that were recently on our lunch n learn. So we did a luncheon on how to plan a high converting website, and it was just so great to see their enthusiasm and their keenness to learn. That was a real thrill for us.