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You & Your Partner, Inc.

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You and Your Partner Inc

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I caught up with four power couples across the country to get their thoughts on mixing love and business. If you’re considering starting a company, even a side hustle, with your spouse or significant other — or if you already have a business, and you’re ready to bring your boo into the mix, this piece will be a huge source of inspiration for you. Spread LOVE!

Jamyla and Pierre

Jamyla & Pierre Bennu, Co-founders of Oyin Handmade

Relationship Status: Married for 17 years

Location: Baltimore

Thoughts on mixing love + business :

Jamyla: A lot of the things that make a good relationship make a good business partnership — communication, responsibility, humor, and working together to solve problems. Also we just really like hanging out together.

Pierre: It’s great because when we come home exhausted after work, we both know why, so there’s less to explain!

About Oyin Handmade:

Jamyla, a self-professed ingredient-conscious & generally crafty chick – and Grand Mixtress of Oyin Handmade – has always been one for mixing things together and personalizing products for her own needs & preferences. It was about experimentation, having fun, and feeling in control of what she was using on her body.

When she realized that even some of her favorite ‘natural’ bodycare items tended to use petroleum, mineral oil, corn oil, or other non-nourishing ingredients; she decided she could do just as well by herself, and started working on her own recipes. With research, study, and good old trial & error, Oyin Handmade has strived since its beginning to create products that are not just natural, but nourishing. The brand was born in winter 2001 when Jamyla started sharing her all-natural bodycare products with a small circle of family and friends. Oyin Handmade products can be found in the Bennu’s brick and mortar storefront in Baltimore and in Target stores nationwide.

George and Kristy Gomez

Kristy and George Gomez, Co-founders of SOAP Goods Creative

Relationship Status: Married for 5 years and together 10 years

Location: Atlanta

Thoughts on mixing love + business: 

Kristy: Getting to watch him work is what I love the most about working with George! He’s great at what he does, so when he gets super focused and passionate, I’m reminded why I was drawn to him in the first place. But also, by watching him, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the design profession and how integral they are to a solid communications and branding strategy. We’re much stronger individually and as a team for having worked side-by-side, rubbing off on each other.

George: Working with Kristy has helped our overall communication, professionally and personally. We’ve learned to speak to each other while blocking out “the noise,” which has led to less reaction, and more discourse and focus on goals. I also really enjoy the on-going office romance.

About SOAP Goods Creative: 

SOAP Goods Creative is an Atlanta-based creative shop with a sweet spot for meeting the communications and design needs of individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations.

Inspired by the entrepreneurs in our family and an insatiable drive to create, we decided to live our dream by helping others realize theirs.

Shantrelle and Tony

Shantrelle P. Lewis & Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson, Co-founders of

Relationship Status: Engaged

Location: Philadelphia

Thoughts on mixing love + business:

Shantrelle: Working with a significant other is not easy! But the pros absolutely outweigh the cons. I’ve always been super driven and ambitious, and had to rely on friends and family to keep me going on those days when my tenacity wasn’t enough. We both have individual interests and careers in separate industries, which is actually much more enjoyable than if we were in the same field. Probably because I’m so competitive, (laughing out loud).

I’ve always been aware how important entrepreneurship was to him especially for Black people in the States and throughout Africa. Tony is Nigerian so entrepreneurship runs in his veins. What he didn’t know when we first met was that I had former dreams of opening a New Orleans-themed coffeehouse. I also conducted a study in grad school about the state of Black owned businesses. My professor still raves about that study to this day. So launching a start up that focuses on the support, prospering and development of Black owned businesses, globally, just kind of made sense. 

Tony: As Shantrelle mentioned, we both have individual goals and projects that we are involved in. We also have several interests that are similar (that’s usually what attracts you to someone, right?). One of those interests is entrepreneurship and business ownership. We discovered that we could “join forces” and create a business that we were both passionate about. To me, it’s great to have yet another thing in common with her. The best part about running a business with my future wife is knowing that we are working together as one to ensure the success of a project that we are both passionate about. There is something to be said about building an empire with someone you love vs. building it solo.

About Shoppe Black:

Shoppe Black is a blog about Black thought, Black money, and Black love. The creators Shantrelle P. Lewis and Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson love ideas. They love all the ways that the creation of wealth can empower our communities across the globe. They love Black people. Get into their shenanigans and be sure to check out their most recent post, “44 Gift Ideas for Bae on Valentine’s Day.”


Joy Adaeze Okere and Obi Okere, Co-founders of Curl Sistas Hair

Relationship Status: Married for one year

Location: New York City

Thoughts on mixing love + business:

Joy:  I love that I trust Obi 100% which makes for a great business partner and life partner. Starting with Obi was a natural choice. When I first went natural, he totally had my back and even purchased my first natural hair product as a gift. He thinks my natural hair is sexy and I love that!

Obi: The best part of running Curl Sistas Hair with my wife is knowing that we are building towards our future together. My background is in business development and career coaching. When Joy and I started Curl Sistas Hair, I knew my strength was in growing online businesses, and I always had a love for natural hair. I even helped Joy formulate many of her natural hair recipes.

About Curl Sistas Hair:
Curl Sistas is a natural hair extension hair company featured on Huffington Post, ESSENCE, Black Enterprise and more.

As a New York City storyteller, filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.

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