When plus-size model Ashley Alexiss launched her swimwear line, Alexiss Swimwear, in 2014, she knew that being an entrepreneur would be tough, but didn’t know how much tougher it would be with the wrong business partner by her side. Mistrust and differing goals do not a good partnership make.
A year later, she found a new partner in Travis Yohe, who helped shore up her business -- not to mention her sanity. We interviewed Alexiss and Yohe separately to get their thoughts on what makes and breaks a business partnership, so you'll learn if they have any differing opinions at the same time they do!
1. What should someone look for in a partner?
Alexiss: You need to be picky and not settle. The obvious things you look for are trust, passion and hard work. You also need someone who isn’t afraid to offer their own views. You’re a team and it’s important to not think as one mind, but two separate minds with a similar vision for the business.
Yohe: Among many other qualities, I believe trust is the most important. I know that I have my partner’s back, and she knows that I have hers.
2. What surprised you about this relationship?
Alexiss: Coming out of a hassle of a business relationship prior to this one, I expected the worst. So the biggest surprise is just how smooth this has been. That’s how you know you have a great partnership when they actually make things less overwhelming and a little more enjoyable.
Yohe: Until Ashley and I began this venture, I rarely saw the “businesswoman” side of her. Ashley has always represented herself very well as a brand ambassador and social media icon, but to see her “handle business” for the first time was impressive.
3. How do you handle disagreements?
Alexiss: Disagreements happen, that’s inevitable. For example, when it comes to the styles and fabrics we’re using, I choose that. Being a woman targeting a woman’s demographic, I understand what we love. Travis doesn’t think like a woman, luckily! When a disagreement occurs, it’s best to explain each view and how we’d both like to solve it. Your partner is your best friend in business and you both want success, therefore there’s very little you should let get in the way of that.
Yohe: My business partner and I don’t always see eye to eye. The fact that we often have vastly differing opinions on various topics generally leads to a more well-thought-out decision-making process. We always seem to find a happy medium.
4. How do your skills compliment each other?
Alexiss: Travis is built to run a business. He’s extremely educated from years of experience from managing other businesses. This is one of the many reasons I knew he was right for the role of my partner. He picks up where I lack.
Yohe: Ashley has marketing and branding down pat. Her immense online following and focus on encouraging body positivity have created an instant demand for our product.
5. How did you find each other?
Alexiss: We met through work at another company, which he managed. That's when I first saw his business skills put to the test.
Yohe: Ashley and I met after she won a Facebook competition I held for a company I used to work for. She won by a landslide of votes, showing me that all the way back in 2011, she meant business! Her reward was to be the company’s spokesmodel for the following year, and to announce her new title, the company flew her out to Key West, where we met for the first time. After a week in paradise which included jet-skis and paragliding, we developed a llong-term connection and have been close ever since. … And yes, we are dating!
6. How should someone find their business match?
Alexiss: Many times your counterpart in life is a great match if you’re able to draw the line between business and personal. That’s worked for Travis and I. Some people would say going into business with a friend or significant other can put stress on the relationship or cause tension, but it’s up to the both of you to know how to separate the two.
Yohe: I believe the best relationships begin when you aren’t looking for someone in the first place, both in business and your personal life. Seeking another person to help develop your own dream will not fall into place as naturally as forming a dream you share.
7. How do you know when it is time to end a business partnership?
Alexiss: When I chose to end my previous partnership it was because he didn’t understand my goals nor did he respect how I felt a business should be conducted. Money was his motivation and customer satisfaction was mine. When your visions are no longer on the same wavelength, it’s time to sever ties.
Yohe: When your partner loses focus and ambition for the “dream” you had when you first started the company. If you aren’t waking up every morning excited to grow your business, you're probably in the wrong business.
8. How does your partner inspire you?
Alexiss: He helps calm me through overwhelming situations and offers me recognition when I succeed with a decision or task. You can never lose when you have someone rooting you on and wanting you to achieve greatness.
Yohe: I have been along for her journey for over five years and not once has she strayed from her beliefs and values. After all, she had the idea to create Alexiss Swimwear to prove that “Beauty is Not a Size” and this line has inspired millions of others.