photography by Two Eagles Marcus
The itch to be self-employed fueled Ben and Mindy to start their (first) business in 2008, which was a husband and wife dual wedding photography team called STUDIO 6.23. Their mutual passion for urban furniture and design led them to start a vintage rental company four years later called Fancy Fray. As tenants of The Cheney Place, an opportunity was presented for them to complete their career package; they bought the venue in 2014. Fifteen years of marriage and constant expansion led them to where they are. Their trio-career is a direct reflection of their untamed passion for each other!
WLM: What are each of your roles?
Ben: Mindy loves art and design. I do too! But I really enjoy the business of it all. I love creating the systems that set Mindy free to create and to design – to do what she loves! That said, I definitely don’t want to say that I do business and Mindy does design. We work way too close together to draw that clear of a line.
Did you discover a most unexpected challenge in working together?
Ben: Boundaries. Working together is fantastic, but it’s good for us to have our own thing. It’s nice to be able to stand on the outside and watch the other do something great.
Mindy: Ben tends to be more task-oriented and can knock out a million things in one day. I lean towards more creative and work at a different pace, which has potential for tension. Knowing our strengths and utilizing each other where we are stronger makes a world of difference.
How do you settle disagreements?
Mindy: We are both pretty verbal and good communicators, so usually we talk through the issue and if we can’t agree, we let the person “more in charge” of that area take the lead. Sometimes you also just have to agree to disagree. If that doesn’t work, we full out
wrestle for the win.
What advice do you have for couples that are in or are prospecting a business together?
Ben: Diligently protect each other’s space. Celebrate the ideas and the successes your spouse has on their own. They need to know that you love their work. Even if it seems like you’re doing everything together, they need to feel like you couldn’t have done it without them.
Mindy: Create something together that uses each of your strengths! Be willing to sacrifice things, but do not compromise your commitment and marriage. Working together can be so amazing and fulfilling, but it’s not for everyone. Know your role and be willing to adapt. Most importantly, dream together and make out a lot.
The Cheney Place
1600 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids