Co-creating a career with my wife

An illustration of Ankita and I along with our pet dog made in the style of Heidi
An illustration of Ankita and I along with our pet dog made in the style of Heidi
An illustration by Ankita depicting the 3 of us

Ankita (my wife) and I know each other since late 2015. When we met, she was a freelance illustrator and I was working on a startup idea. One of the things we really connected on was a shared passion about design.

I had no background in design but I used to run a design meetup in Mumbai as a hobby project before I met Ankita. (My design meetup — We used to invite a design speaker every month who used to speak to a gathering of design enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.)

I never knew back then that one day, we will be running a design studio together. But it has been some journey from then to now.

The start was great…

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Us in 2016. I am realizing how much a rock star she looked back then.

In 2016, Ankita started a design studio by the name of Another Day Another Colour. And we used to spend hours talking about everything around it.

While I was hard at work at my startup, we used to keep discussing her clients and the way she worked with them. Then she started the process of hiring a small team and I kept getting more and more fascinated with the business of visual design.

A long story for another day but come 2017, I was done with being an entrepreneur and running a startup. Ankita and I kept discussing about working together at Another Day Another Colour. We were both excited to work together, live together and share a life together.

We started working together and that is when it all went to hell.

Never work with your life partner, it just doesn’t work

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We have upped our crazy faces from the time this picture was taken.

That’s what I told myself come 2018. When it came to working together professionally, it just did not work out between us. Even though as a companion and couple, it was going really well.

We had completely different working styles and we clashed too regularly for both our liking. I felt she was too controlling and wanted things to be done exactly her way. She felt I was too laidback and casual with my work.

(I am secretly proud that I kind of encapsulated a 6 month bitter working relationship in 2 short lines)

In the middle of all that we were getting ready to get married. I was loving working in the design field but I did not have any experience. I struggled to even give feedback on basic things like colour, layouts and fonts to designers I worked with. And she was on a journey of discovering if she wanted to pursue being a full time educator and artist instead of being a commercial graphic designer.

Having separate career paths might be the best way for us

The last 2 years was a phase of discovery and growth for the two us. She really evolved as a creativity coach and developed various new styles as a fine artist. I really enjoyed running a design studio and grew into managing a small team of wonderful designers and human beings.

My team and I worked on a diverse set of projects including for a small company called as Facebook. My experience of running and being part of startups really helped when it came to the business strategy part of design projects.

Through all of this, Ankita and I kept discussing the potential of working together but nothing really materialized till something allegedly happened at a market in China.

A virus that allegedly came from a pangolin and bam! I was working with my wife again

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This was in 2018 at the foot of Mt Batur. We were not working together back then but I love this picture too much and we were collaborating on something when this picture was taken.

Covid 19 really upset the apple cart. I simply had no incoming revenue to sustain a team. I was literally on my ass wondering what to do next and watching movies all day long waiting for the virus to just get shoved back into that pangolin.

March went by, April went by, May went by. Zilch.

I was searching for a job and so was Ankita. We were clear that the life we want to create, the financial and location freedom that we want to have, is simply not going to work out for a long time.

And in the middle of our job search, a project came our way and one thing led to another and we were right back where we started in 2017. Working together.

And believe it or not, we did not want to kill each other anymore. I had tightened up my work ethic, she had loosened up her control freak. All of a sudden, on our laps, was what we always ever wanted.

It has been 3 rock solid months and we are wondering, what can ever be better than working together.

So, what really changed?

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Yeah I know I haven’t worn my snorkeling gear the way it is meant to be done.

I think we both had to go on our own individual journey to reach this point of working together again. It was important for Ankita to pursue being an educator and an artist. For me, it was about giving her that space and at the same time continuing to engage in what was satisfying to me and keep evolving in a completely new line of professional expression (from being an entrepreneur to being a creative professional)

Also, this time, our focus was not really working together but looking at what would really work for us as individuals and as a couple considering the current circumstance. We somewhere always knew that we will make an outstanding team in our line of business. Covid 19 was probably a hand of god that we were waiting for. We feel like we circumnavigated the planet a few times over to get back to where we started in the first place. This is our little 2020 miracle.

If you are a couple who work together professionally, you might relate to many of the phases we went through and where we are now. I am sure some of you are already far ahead in your journey and I would love to hear your story. If you are a couple and having a difficult working relationship, would love to hear from you too.

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