Working together is like a marriage contract. An idyll where rational talents, but also a good deal of emotional intelligence, make it rain or shine. How do you find “the one” in the job? Check out our crash course on business dates.

That Belgian-British Jennifer Elliot is the brain Elliot & Struds creativea brand of nice jewelry which translates each client’s identity and personal history into authentic jewellery. Loves and highlights, but also setbacks, challenges and personal victories are embedded in silver, gold, diamonds and precious stones.

Although her roots and business are in Belgium, Jennifer is a globetrotter. She was born in Botswana, grew up in Africa, studied in Belgium and lived in Kenya. Since the creation of her label in 2018, she has rested her suitcases in Antwerp, but her ultimate dream is to be able to travel the world like a (creative) tornado. A lifestyle that is perfectly compatible with her work as a designer, but more difficult to combine with her label’s daily needs, of local roots. Therefore, she quickly set about finding the ideal business partner, which she found in the person of Sylvie Art. “We always talk about the man or woman in our lives. I believe that in professional life, you can also meet the right person, and in my case it is Sylvie! »

The two young women share a pronounced taste for aesthetics, they love authenticity and transparency and adore a job well done. But on many points they are miles apart: Jennifer dreams of a nomadic lifewhile Sylvie has just started a family and search above all stability. Opposites attract, but how can such a meeting produce sparks? “I believe that you can only develop your specific talents if you are truly passionate about what you do”, explains Jennifer. “The label is above all about my story, my feelings, and in order to share that, I had to make sure that Sylvie found herself in my universe. Since she is now part of the adventure, I also wanted to know her Ikigai – a Japanese concept that denotes a person’s reason for being. What pushes her to get out of bed in the morning, what is her passion, what life does she dream of? For Sylvie, it was about finding a balance between her family and her work in an aesthetically stimulating environment. Before Elliot & Struds, she worked particularly for a long time at Delvaux. Our wishes turned out to be completely compatible. »

Jennifer & Sylvie ©Elliot & Ostrich


Mien Gheysen’scoach and author of ” Exponential potential (Exponential potential, only available in Dutch, NDLT), accompanies entrepreneurs: “Creative people – and passionate people in general – fear that the soul of their business will evaporate once they have introduced them – leading to a different, more rational profile. Unfortunately, this is often the case, with all the consequences it entails, but there is no reason for the story to end badly. The solution is to check from the start whether you really get along well and know how to approach the possible differences, because there are always some. It is not necessarily a matter of being on the same wavelength, on the contrary, but of knowing when and how to adapt. »

The big question of “why” imposes itself on all parties. Why do it? Where do I see myself and where do I see the company in x time? According to Mien Gheysen, these questions are crucial. “It is normal to have different visions, but they must be clearly expressed from the start so that a common approach can be defined. Furthermore, expectations change along the way: if one of them connected becomes a mother, for example, it changes the whole organization. The context changes, life changes, you have to prepare for it. Complementarity is good, but when are there too many differences to work well together? This is a matter of balance and well-considered decisions. If you choose to work together, you actually do it on two levels: on a human level and on an entrepreneurial level. You can be very effective together for the company, but have a bad time personally. The reverse can also happen: you get along well, the connection is good, but you are too similar and the business does not work as well as expected. It is therefore important to consider this choice as a whole. »

Jennifer & Sylvie ©Elliot & Ostrich
Jennifer & Sylvie ©Elliot & Ostrich

The perfect match

Surprisingly, this is not the goal of most networking platforms. On these pages, the focus is on interests and profile type rather than expectations and visions. It is not because two people want to work in the jewelry sector and start their own business that they manage to make this project happen together. During a networking event, we discuss ramore recently, the question of personal dreams and basic motivations when it matters. This is why Mien sees the full potential in these situations: “Based on my own experience, I really feel the need for some kind of matchmaking among my customers.


We often laugh about it, but in reality, a business cooperation is a kind of marriage. You spend a lot of time, make important decisions and face challenges together. And just like in a marriage, the partners must take on different roles. It also concerns organizational issues – who does what in the company? – than the more human aspects. What do you mean to each other? Are you colleagues, partners, friends, shareholders or all of these? It is very interesting to know in advance what roles you play towards each other and what formula you have agreed upon. It is normal to change your hat from time to time. Sometimes you need a sparring partner, sometimes a sounding board, and other times just a shoulder to cry on.

Sylvie and Jennifer knew very early on that they had matched, but despite their good relationship, they chose to be coached. “In the beginning, the goal was to find our how and our what,” says Sylvie. “What works for her and for me? That announcement is the key, but not everyone expresses themselves in the same way – and we are very different in that respect. So we went to a third party who could translate my feelings to Jennifer and vice versa. It made a huge difference for us and I am proud of the bond and mutual respect we gained through this coaching. We can tell each other now. We also plan moments of reflection at regular intervals: a walk, a meditation or yoga session. We don’t talk specifically about the things we need to do, but rather about how each one had an experience, what we learned, and how we can continue to grow. “Ask nonagenarians what the secret to a sixty-year marriage is, and the answer will be unanimous: communication,” Mien continues. “In business it’s the same: proactively discussing what works and what doesn’t, not drowning in a glass of water, brushing away any anger before it becomes overwhelming. Conflict is too often avoided in order to maintain (household) peace, but this is the best way to go straight into the wall. My advice: plan specific times to “confront” each other and be clear about your role at that time. You can also state that you, as a manager, make such a decision, even if you, as a friend, would otherwise do so. In this way, all opinions are respected, and it leaves room for negotiation. »

The dream collaboration that keeps the company boat afloat in good times and bad.



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