Our favorite role models are often defined not by what they do, but by how they share love with others. In this case, the friendship of childhood playmates Aimee Lagos and Christiana Coop has not only stood the test of time, but the demands of a successful business launch in 2008: designer wallpaper shop Hygge & West. Read on to hear what keeps this friendship ticking (and the laughter rolling!) despite the demands of busy families and creative partnerships. Proof that frenemies are a thing of the past...
Not only are you childhood best friends, but you own and operate wallpaper company Hygge & West together. Can you talk a bit about what it's like to maintain an uplifting relationship while creating a productive work atmosphere?
We believe that maintaining an uplifting relationship is essential to a productive work atmosphere - otherwise what's the point? We're both so proud of the business we’ve created together, and we’re very excited about the future. Hygge & West gives us an opportunity to do what we love, and also to be in constant contact with each other which we'd be doing even if we weren't working on our business. After several years of ups and downs, we’ve (mostly) learned to not stress about, or dwell upon, obstacles or mishaps that are not in our control. As our friendship is largely built on our mutual sense of humor, we find that at work, as in life, a good laugh goes a long way!
What do you love most about each other?
Christiana: Other than her just being a ton of fun, Aimee’s extremely loyal, caring and giving of her time and energy to the people she loves. So, I’ve always considered myself very lucky to be in her circle. I love her strength and sense of self. I love her honesty and trust her opinions about almost everything even if I don’t always follow her sage advice (much to our mutual chagrin). She also has the sharpest sense of humor, which maybe I should have put first on the list because it truly is the best.
Aimee: Christiana is someone that people just seem to gravitate to - she truly has a magnetic personality. My sons just adore her because she's such a fun and caring auntie to them. She's also got an absolutely impeccable, original sense of style, and she makes everything beautiful so effortlessly. We've been friends for so long now that even when we're apart, I'll see something and will laugh out loud because I know exactly what she'd say about it. I consider myself very lucky to have that kind of a friendship in my life.
What kind of boundaries do you set on your relationship, and how do you communicate each others expectations to avoid misunderstandings?
We haven’t set boundaries specifically, but we’re both very aware of what goes on in each other’s lives and try to place ourselves in each other’s shoes when things pop up that we need to make mutual decisions about. We lead quite different day to day lives, so if a rare misunderstanding does arise, the first thing we do is try to view the situation from the other’s perspective. Our close friendship has created a really supportive professional dynamic, and it's a big part of our success.
When we first started the business, we did talk through our different strengths and weaknesses - our goals, hopes, and fears - which we think was an important foundation to build our business relationship upon. We revisit those from time to time as the business, and our lives, grow and change to make sure we’re on the same page. We also decided that Aimee would have 51% control over financial decisions and Christiana would have 51% control over design decisions. We’ve never had to pull this percentage out as we usually agree in our decision-making on both fronts, but it seemed important to establish just in case we were to hit a road block.
Ultimately though, we both strongly feel that our friendship will always come first. And, while Hygge & West is extremely important and rewarding to us, no business disagreement would be worth fighting at the cost of hurting our friendship.
What do you think are they keys to a long-lasting, tried-and-true friendship?
Christiana: Trust, respect, empathy, and lots of laughter.
Aimee: The ability to completely be 100% yourself, both good and bad, around someone and still be loved. A deeply held, shared appreciation of sarcasm.
Clementine Daily's mission is to embrace the everyday, live authentically and pursue simplicity. What are some ways you two can relate to this mission?
We named our company for the Danish concept of hygge - which most closely translates to "cozy" but means so much more. We fell in love with the idea because it describes all the simple things we enjoy most about life - long dinners with friends, reading in front of the fireplace, snuggling in bed with dogs on a rainy afternoon... Being in touch with these small moments really elevates your everyday experiences. Because the home is so important, we strive to create products that make our customers' homes a little more beautiful and a little more hygge.
Name five everyday items that keep your life in good, working order.
Christiana: iPhone, this coffee maker, tide laundry pods, a hefty tape measure, good looking running shoes.
Aimee: iPhone, lint rollers (I have 3 dogs), a HUGE tote bag, my Moleskine day planner, and this mascara.
What advice do you most often reference in your professional career, and how does this advice apply to your daily lives as women?
Christiana: Stay true to yourself. I think that’s the best thing you can do in your work and in your life.
Aimee: Don't sell yourself short. It sounds cheesy, but I honestly believe that almost anything can be achieved if you believe in yourself and are willing to work hard.
p.s. We couldn't agree more! To hear from another design powerhouse with a big heart, read our interview with Kirsten Grove.