Love at work

By Zoe Walker

A love relationship has to be pretty strong to function as a work one too. Viva speaks with three couples who have managed to successfully combine both.

Jenny Clegg
Co-owner of streetwear label Federation

Where did you meet each other?

We met on Great Barrier while there on a surfing trip over New Years - at the end of 1995.

What was your first impression of Nick?

I do remember he had good shoes on; I had the same pair.

What do you love most about him?

I love how Nick is so caring and so funny and crazy.

What annoys you most about him?

To be honest not really anything, over time you accept the bits that might be annoying and just roll with it.

What do you think is the 'secret' to your success as a couple?

I think the above, and we communicate so much, and work so well as a team. It's good to always appreciate each other.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

I did buy Nick something ... I kind of wanted it for myself and thought it would be a good excuse to buy it under this pretence!

When and why did you decide to go into business together? What did you both do before working together?

It was a natural progression for us, we realised that we were these segments that could make this cool business together and do what we loved.

How does being in a relationship affect the way you work? Do you take your work home with you?

Yeah, we haven't managed to do that full separation thing between work and home! Our kids are so great though and they have done heaps of travelling. We have such a great team at work that we take off when we need to.

Do you ever have creative differences, and how does it affect your work?

We normally agree on most creative things, if we do have a difference we work out who really cares the most and is adamant on it and normally go with that one.

Nick Clegg
Co-owner of streetwear label Federation

What was your first impression of Jenny?

I was kinda hanging out with the guys that they were with - so I didn't really pay too much attention, thought they were just super nice.

Where was your first date?

Man, I can't even remember - we were really just friends for ages first, so just hung out heaps.

What do you love most about Jenny?

Jenny is very positive as a person, but sometimes the thing that can be annoying can also be a good thing - she has a strong personality which is great.

What annoys you most about the other person?

We are both strong willed and know what we want - so we can annoy each other sometimes when those personalities are firing... But we have good communication, so it's all good.

What do you think is the 'secret' to your success as a couple?

We have different strengths, which compliment each other. We enjoy working with each other and love what we do.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

I guess not really, we might buy each other something, but we have just got so much on that we rarely stop. Jen is due with number three - so who knows right now!

When and why did you decide to go into business together? What did you both do before working together?

This is our 9th year - nine in '09 which is cool. It's something we always wanted to do. Before this I was working in the skateboard industry as a brand manager.

How does being in a relationship affect the way you work? Do you take your work home with you?

Yeah we definitely take work home, which can be a downside sometimes.

Do you ever have creative differences?

Yeah, but that's all part of it. And hey, Jen is usually always right!

Jennifer Morgan
Co-owner Morgan &Amp; Morgan Salon

How did you meet? We met originally in Brazil Hair Studio in Grey Lynn, which was my first salon. I opened this with a girlfriend when I was just 20 and Steve was working as a technician for L'Oreal and came in to do some education with my staff.

What was your first impression of him?

HOT! I remember thinking "wow check out the sexy boy from L'Oreal!" I had a few friends who knew him, so I did a little background but seriously did not think I would ever see him again.

Where was your first 'date'?

Although we met in the salon, nothing happened. We randomly bumped into each other in a bar about two days later. Don't you love it when fate steps in? I spotted him when he arrived and decided to play it cool. I figured that every girl from every salon he had visited probably made a bee-line for him if they saw him out socially and I was not about to be one of those girls. My mother always told me it was better to play hard to get! Anyway he came over and that was that. I actually invited him out on the first date - I must have got over my hard to get moment - which was the next night at a pizza restaurant in Mission Bay. I knew straight away that this was something special - in fact I phoned my mum the next day and told her I had met the man I was going to marry. She thought that was the funniest thing ever, but I just knew. We have been married 16 years next month and there has never been a day in that time where I have not been grateful that fate threw that opportunity my way!

What do you love most about the other person?

Steve is the kindest and most big-hearted person I have ever met. He has a warmth and generosity of spirit that is rare and to be cherished! I know it is a bit of a cliche but after 18 years together he has shaped who I am today and I am a much better person for having met him.

What annoys you most about Steve?

His inability to close the fridge and his fear of the dishwasher. Who washes by hand when you have a dishwasher?

What do you think is the 'secret' to your success as a couple?

I breathe in and he breathes out! We have developed a sense of when the other one needs support and make sure we make the time to be there! Steve is my absolute best friend; there is no one I would rather spend time with and we enjoy so many things, outside of work. Also another sage piece of Mum's advice: pick your battles wisely!

What's been your most memorable or romantic Valentine's Day to date?

A few years ago I was having a particularly generous Valentine's moment and flew Steve to the Gold Coast for the weekend. Not sure what part of romantic weekend for two he did not get, but I did not get as much as a rose from him on the day! By about 10pm that night when there was no love in the Valentine I was beside myself and absolutely lost it (sobbing). Since then Steve has made sure Valentine's Day is special!

When and why did you decide to go into business together? What did you both do before working together?

We came up with the name Morgan & Morgan when we got married so I guess on some level we always thought we would work together. We made that decision about nine years ago that it was time for me to have a change and for Steve to take the salon to a new level. I had been with L'Oreal for 10 years and had a load of ideas and experience to bring to the business.

How does being in a relationship affect the way you work? Do you take your work home with you?

It is really hard not to take work home with you; especially in times of stress. I tend to be in charge at work and make most of the major decisions - this is a role that has been carved out for me over the past eight years. We are very different people and bring very different contributions to the salon which always makes it interesting! For my part I hate having to be in-charge with Steve at work. There are times when I have to ask him to do a task at the salon or check in on the progress of something and this is probably the part I like the least! I don't really love managing staff at the best of times and it is very hard when you are required to manage your husband and I always try to do this with the utmost respect! When I get home it is totally Steve's domain and I am more than happy to let him be the boss. It works well because we both have a part of our lives where we get to lead and a part of our lives where we get to be lead. People who know us at work are often amazed when they see us at home because the roles are so different. At work Steve is really cruisy and laidback, taking care of clients and having a great time while I am all Type A personality making sure that everything gets done. As soon as I get home I relax, sit back and take some time while Steve is a frenzy of activity!

Do you ever have creative differences, and how does it affect your work?

From a creative perspective it works perfectly as we have very different roles in the salon. I am a colourist and he is a stylist so we don't work in the same field. We are also physically separated as the salon is divided into two areas. I can go a whole day without really seeing much of him, which is probably a good thing really. I have to say that living, working and playing together has really strengthened our relationship - Steve is my right arm. The most important thing for me is to make sure that every day I am grateful for the opportunity and that we don't take it for granted!

Steve Morgan
Co-owner Morgan & Morgan Salon

How did you meet?

We met when I was booked to train some of the team at Jen's first salon. I was working for the education team at L'Oreal at the time and mixing business and pleasure was certainly not encouraged so it made things a bit tricky!

What was your first impression of her?

I remember Jen was very tanned and gorgeous at the time, but she was the client and it was business and I was playing it cool.

Where was your first date?

Before I go into detail of our first date I should fill you in on our second meeting. I was out on the town the weekend after I had trained in her salon, it was late and we ran into each other at a club! She was on her own waiting for a friend. I smiled at her but she was playing it cool. We talked had a dance and made a date then and there. Who says you don't meet the right people in bars and clubs!

What do you love most about Jennifer?

Jen is smart and incredibly stylish. I could go on, there are too many things to say!

What annoys you most about the her?

I can honestly say there is nothing that annoys me about Jen!

What do you think is the 'secret' to your success as a couple?

We share loads of common interests but at the same time have our own things. We are opposites in many ways but bring the best out in each other, and lately don't sweat the small stuff.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? What's been the most romantic to date?

We do these days, but for a couple of years a very long time ago, not.

When and why did you decide to go into business together?

Around nine years ago, Jen had been working for L'Oreal for 10 years and was ready for a change. I had had my own salon for around six years which Jen had helped out in pretty regularly. It made sense to do something together.

How does being in a relationship affect the way you work?

In our case it works really well! We have quite different roles at work, and our main focus is mainly on our clients and the team. If things at home are good it's the same at work and vice versa.

Do you ever have creative differences, and how does it affect your work?

I wouldn't say we have creative differences but different styles. Being opposites often work well. I also think as times go on we have become more alike.

Jacqui Dixon
Co-owner of gourmet food store Sabato

How did you first meet each other?

I was 21 and dated his flatmate briefly. Phil was often around and always quite chatty - plus he made great scones. A few months later I banged into him at a party. He asked for my phone number. I was very impressed when he called the next day as he hadn't written it down.

What did you first think of him?

I thought: 'Not sure about this - nice guy, but where did he get such a dreadful cardigan from? Think he works in a bank - must be a teller'. (Apologies to all the stylish tellers out there - it was a different time!).

Where was your first date?

We went to a James Bond movie where my BA in Russian (more in vodka really) finally came into its own as I dazzled him with my linguistic skills, though he was not that keen on the word nyet (no)! From that moment on he has stuck to my side and been impossible to get rid of!

What do you love most about Phil?

He is generous and loyal, with a very dry sense of humour. A couple of years after we married, a tragic accident sent my family into years of chaos - more than enough to test most relationships. Phil kept his calm and steered us through it. At the same time we also managed to produce two children and found Sabato. In retrospect I don't quite know how we did all that.

What annoys you most about him?

Well, he is a boy and an Aquarian, so he likes to make decisions instantly, no mucking around; whereas I am a girl and a Piscean and can see nothing but choices which need to be explored. We have been known to frustrate each other. He is great at hanging the washing out though!

What do you think is the 'secret' to your success as a couple is?

Having fun together, and the slow realisation that neither of us is actually perfect. Maybe the fact that both sets of our parents were happily married for decades has had a strong influence.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Well it's his birthday the next day so he likes to try and think of it as a two day event designed especially for him. No pressure! Is it that time of the year again already?!

Why did you decide to go into business together?

He decided to change his work life and things just evolved from there. My long term weekend teenage job had involved hot bread and Europeans, but most recently I had been nursing.

How does being in a relationship affect your work? Do you take it home with you?

Ask our extremely talented and accommodating team at work. We actually handle different areas, but our business is all about the pleasure of good food and that brings benefits to all areas of your life - so yes, we do take our work home - and it's delicious!

Do you ever have creative differences and how does it affect your work?

Sometimes. It's a learning curve for us both really. Best to regard the challenges as opportunities for learning and choose not to let them affect your work or relationship. Thank God for good friends and the fabulous wise people who work for us and really run Sabato!

Phil Dixon
Co-owner of gourmet food store Sabato

How did you first meet each other?

Through a flatmate. It had been a bad day at the races and this was God's way of evening things up.

What did you first think of her?

Gee - I hope she likes my new cardigan and she won't think it came from a sale.

Where was your first date?

This is a matter of delicacy and some debate. A tried and true version was that I invited her to the latest Bond movie on a Friday night. She was so sophisticated - she could follow the plot even when they broke into Russian (well the words nyet and da anyway). Earlier I had picked her up from her home and of course went and knocked at the back door and was greeted by her mother. I should have seen that as an omen and run - however, I was from a small town.

What do you love most about her?

Her energy and desire to keep enjoying herself and dragging me along with her.

What annoys you most about her?

She interjects ideas into my own closely held belief that the best solution is my solution.

What is the secret to your success as a couple?

An ability to truly relax in each other's company.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

You would think that Valentine's Day followed by your birthday the next day would guarantee certain inalienable rights as a man. For you single men out there who share this birthday in common with me, and are about to enter marriage - don't say you weren't warned. Remember Valentine's Day is 50 per cent of your chances.

Why did you decide to go into business together?

A deliberate change on my part provided an opportunity to combine our limited skill base.

How does being in a relationship affect your work? Do you take it home with you?

It is a business that has given us a lot of pleasure and I think that is why our relationship has worked. It is not just a business - there aren't any rules about when business/personal begin and end. It just flows naturally.

Do you ever have creative differences?

Sometimes...

- NZ Herald

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