studio asobi couple

Photo: Studio Asobi Facebook

You’re the perfect team; the yin and the yang. You’re not constrained by varying work schedules and commitments that often leave even the most loving of relationships on tenterhooks. You can make time for work and for love (date night is no longer a myth) on your own terms. And the commute to work will be a lot less lonely. Owning a business together as a couple sounds like a dream.

It does, however, have its cons. Spending so much time together can give rise to conflicts that can leak back home, and vice versa. You may lose semblance of what work-life balance is. Venturing into entrepreneurship together is essentially putting all your eggs in one basket. One false move and it could put both your family and livelihood at risk.

Thankfully, Huiwen Lau, one half of the husband-and-wife duo behind pottery studio, Studio Asobi, has not only proven that it is possible, but also found time to welcome a third member to her family. Here’s how she did it:


Start small

studio asobi couple pottery

Photo: Studio Asobi Facebook

Entrepreneurship is tough and, now, there’s the added challenge of juggling your relationship. It’s important to set the table before taking the leap of faith.

Start on smaller projects, like planning a friend’s party, something crafty or even co-authoring a book. It can help determine whether you two share a common dream – business and family goals – and see if your work styles complement one another. Additionally, understand that the quality of the relationship will always be more important than the work output. Choose an option that enhances your relationship and goals.


Divide and conquer

studio asobi class

Huiwen narrates while Kenneth demonstrates wheel throwing to a crowd of children

When it comes to division of labour at the workplace, match skill sets to specific roles and responsibilities. Projects are seen more as a collaboration. Ideas are bounced of one another, but the other party does not interfere with the execution. Huiwen takes on the admin side of things, courtesy of her real estate investment background, while husband Kenneth, the former architect, takes on more technical requests.

Should you have employees, it is necessary to make such distinctions clearer. Hold one person accountable as the ultimate decision maker for productivity.


Setting work (and personal) hours

Huiwen demonstrating wheel throwing

Huiwen demonstrating wheel throwing

In the case of Studio Asobi, where the studio doubles as the couple’s home, it becomes hard to differentiate work and personal life. Counter this by setting aside personal time, such as not discussing work matters over meals, having tech-free zones (to answer customer calls or emails) and setting a time to stop working each night.

Don’t wear “busy” as a badge of honour; work smarter, not harder. Appreciate the quality time spent relaxing with your partner.


Family comes first

Huiwen and her child enjoying the ocean waves. 

Huiwen and her child enjoying the ocean waves. 

When welcoming a new addition to the family, there will be changes. That includes you and your partner’s working hours. Have an open conversation and decide what’s the best course of action. What are your shared values? Use them to establish principles to guide decision making. Whether it is a decision to maintain the momentum of the business or cutting back work commitments to focus on parenthood, it has to be one that’s made with the two of you in mind.