We are Kariss and Joshua Farris, owners and the head photographers of Pharris Photography based out of Texas specializing in Houston and Dallas but also serving destination clients. Our background and love story has played a significant role in our success as a husband and wife duo. We met in college at Baylor University, fell in love, and now combine our creativity and our love into a marriage and a business. We have a sweet little girl named Ellie and another beautiful baby boy on the way. We love Houston, our home and our playground, and love everything about the wedding and party industry. With that being said, we have been blessed to expand our location to Dallas as well which has proven to us to be a great business move. We now can take part in more beautiful celebrations… what a dream come true! We have done 27 weddings and have been featured in Yahoo!, People, Paper City Magazine, The Knot, Essence, and tons of other publications. We have made so many new friends and love getting people to smile. But more importantly - we love being a husband-and-wife team. We’re powerful together and we love building each other up in our work. Work isn’t just our life though, we are Christians, parents, Texas fans, and adventurers. We have to know how to keep our lives separate and full of fun on both sides. It doesn’t mean that working with your spouse is always easy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
1. Make sure that you’re having fun at work. You’re with your best friend, so it should be fun! Especially in a creative field, you want to make sure that you’re feeding that creativity through energy, positivity, and collaboration! We make sure that we have fun with our clients and see their personality in the pictures, so we feel like we just make a ton of friends every day.
2. Have your responsibilities separate. Make sure you know whose part is whose, and communicate well with each other on tasks that may be shared. Nothing is worse than stepping on other people’s toes, especially your spouse’s. They appreciate the communication as much as we do.
3. Complement each other! You’re both in the field for a reason, and you’re both successful for a reason. Point out your spouse’s strengths and build their confidence, and they’ll probably do it right back to you. It keeps you both focused on each other instead of getting caught up in your own competition and confidence. Give each other a boost now and then in the professional world.
4. In that same respect, don’t be afraid to give each other constructive criticism when needed. There’s a respectful way to go about this but often times those that yo work closely with can see the opportunities for growth and improvement that you may not notice. Always push them to be their best. Many people say your spouse is your “toughest critic and biggest fan,” so make sure that both as a critic and as a fan you are encouraging and loving. You will see little things that other coworkers would never see because they aren’t the spouse, but that doesn’t always mean you have to bring up those little things. Push them to be their best, but don’t roll them over in critiques and direction. Having a balance of positivity and the will to continue to grow and do better is key!
5. Separate your work and home time. If you’re home having dinner with your family, make sure you’re home having dinner and not acting as an impromptu business meeting. Have specific times set apart for home and life conversations that don’t involve your clients or work. Keeping them separate will keep your family sane.
6. Get feedback. As you are business partners, getting feedback to ensure you are both on the same page is necessary. Whether that is on a daily basis or in weekly meetings, collaboration in all aspects will make sure you both see things the same way and have the same end goal in mind.
1. Try to outshine each other. Don’t make it competitive. Again, make sure that your roles and responsibilities are clear and your boundaries are consistent. No one likes to compete with those that we love. It’s not healthy for the business and it’s certainly not healthy for your personal relationship, so keep it even.
2. Overstep your boundaries. In the beginning, it is best to establish the roles and responsibilities so the lines don’t get blurry and cause confusion and frustration later down the road. Note, if you need assistance with a certain task, having a relationship and partnership where you can ask for added help is great but making it clear on both ends who is ultimately in charge of that business department is needed.
3. Put more on your plate than you can handle. This will only hurt the business and cause stress which can in return hurt your business working relationship with your spouse. A little stress is healthy as it gives you the push to stay focused but make sure you know how much you can handle. You don’t want to take on more than you can produce as it will interfere with your home life if you are working more hours than the other. Sometimes we need to put each other in check and re-evaluate the workload as we tend to both over extend but that it only natural when you are excited about your growing business.
When their frustration with current fabric care options had fashionistas Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd worn out, the two entrepreneurs made it their mission to start a new niche and launch their very own at-home, eco-friendly laundry detergent line.
With a mission of turning an everyday domestic chore into a luxurious experience, these entrepreneurs not only conjured up an idea for an unconventional product line, but they successfully built their business while turning down the offer of every venture capitalist to knock on their door.
Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd co-founded The Laundress in 2004 after dealing with their own personal frustrations with limited clothing care options. Whiting, having worked at Ralph Lauren in design and Boyd having worked at Chanel in corporate sales, soon accumulated a stylish wardrobe of designer pieces as perks of their jobs in the fashion industry. However, the duo quickly realized that the maintenance required for upkeeping these items were far from adequate. Laundry products on the market at the time did not cater to delicate textures and fabrics such as tweed blazers, cable-knit cashmere and silk blouses. Taking their clothing to the dry cleaners also proved hopeless as their clothing would often come back with stains or even be ruined despite the overload of chemicals used to clean them. With nowhere left to turn, Whiting and Boyd were determined to create their own laundry solutions designed for specific fabrics.
Not only did the entrepreneurs develop the business expertise needed to finally begin their own company, but they also shared the same educational background that equipped them to pursue their unconventional business venture. Whiting and Boyd met in college as students at Cornell University majoring in Fiber Science, Textile, and Apparel Management and Design. The pair was introduced by a mutual friend and instantly knew they would become business partners. "It was inevitable that we were going to have a business together. We are both extremely entrepreneurial by nature, and it was one of the connections that we instantly shared" said Whiting. After focusing on pursuing their own individual careers for a while, Whiting and Boyd quickly discovered a void in the fabric care marketplace when their clients would continuously inquire about the upkeep of their designer pieces.
The entrepreneurial duo was committed to researching and developing their own eco-friendly laundry products and soon launched their own at-home solutions for specific fabrics like silk, wool and denim, which ultimately eliminated the need for dry cleaning for those particular items. Despite their products filling a necessary void in the market, it quickly became challenging for the founders to persuade people to shift their focus away from traditional laundry care options in order to try their products. However, Whiting and Boyd believed in their mission for the Laundress and bootstrapped from the very beginning, refusing all venture capital funding with the goal of growing organically. In order to be successful, they had to get creative in fundraising. "In the very early days, we funded business development by hosting a 'for profit' party at a New York City restaurant and inviting friends, family, co-workers, etc. to support our new venture. That was pre-Kickstarter and an inventive way to make everyone feel a big part of our decision to be entrepreneurs," said Whiting.
While turning down VC funding as new entrepreneurs seems unimaginable, it is as equally unfathomable to consider how these women gained national traction without social media, all the while hustling to fund their business. For Whiting and Boyd, who started their business before social media existed, it was imperative that they promote their brand by leveraging the resources they had available to them. The CEO's were one of the first to sell consumer goods, let alone detergent, online with the goal of reaching a national audience. Despite having limited retail distribution, they leveraged the power of their website and became featured in publications on both a national and international scale. "Before social media platforms existed, we nurtured our own Laundress community with engaging content on our website, step-by-step tutorials on our blog, and one-on-one communication through our Ask The Laundress email," Whiting explained. With technology evolving and the birth of social media platforms, the founders expanded the conversation about their products from website, blog and email to platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
As female entrepreneurs, Whiting and Boyd faced additional hardships as misconceptions about their mission ultimately proved to disappoint more than it encouraged them. As women selling luxury detergent, there existed a preconceived notion that funding would be more easily attainable based upon their gender.
"Everyone thought it was easy to access capital as female entrepreneurs, but it was actually very challenging. We had this unique and disruptive idea within a very traditional space and it was hard to get people on board at first. It's been a continuous journey to educate people in fabric care and home cleaning," said Boyd.
Reflecting on their journey as entrepreneurs, the founders express no regrets about refusing to accept venture capital throughout the process. "Over the years, we could never quantify the cost benefit of VC funding so we continued to grow organically and remain independent by funding ourselves with credit cards and loans," explained Boyd. While their decision proved fruitful, the duo expressed their consideration towards other entrepreneurs who may not be able to fully fund their business as they grow. Because funding is a situational experience, entrepreneurs must ultimately do what is best for their business as no one path is optimal for every entrepreneur or every business.
With an increasing amount of women entering entrepreneurship with their own unique set of products or services, the CEO's offer up one piece of advice on how female entrepreneurs can be successful in their endeavors.
Whiting: "Our advice to anyone looking to build their brands: Have a strong business plan and vision. If you are not disciplined to write a business plan first then you are not disciplined to start a business. Get your ideas down so you ask yourself the right questions; it helps you get organized and plan next steps."
Boyd: "Create quality products without sacrificing the ingredients—no cutting corners. What you create should be the most important piece. Stay passionate, and trust your instincts and follow your gut—something woman are awesome at!"