Think women can’t work together? Think again. Welcome to She’s My Cofounder, a series all about powerhouse cofounders who also happen to be (you guessed it) female. We’re going to be diving in with women who support and nurture each other through all things business and beyond to find out just exactly what it’s like working alongside a gal pal.
This week, we’re joined by Elvira Vedelago and Chinasa Chukwu the founders of POSTSCRIPT. Both also have their own brands, Elvira is a model and content creator and Chinasa is the founder and creative director of Weruzo, a luxury womenswear brand transposing traditional handwoven materials into modern silhouettes.
What started as a conversation over a lunch date between two friends has now led to POSTSCRIPT a cultural anthology bringing together the multiplicity of perspectives of socially conscious and independent thinking women. POSTSCRIPT is a cross between a newspaper and an academic journal. A publication that discusses more than fashion but celebrates the minds and voices of today’s female. POSTSCRIPT is a tool to encourage meaningful conversations amongst women and by focusing on culture, it connects women to ideas, customs and forms of expressions about our differing perspectives of the world we share.
1. How did you become co-founders and how long have you known one another?
Chinasa: We actually wrote about this in our first editor’s letter because we started working together quite soon after meeting. We knew a little about each other but officially met at an event and were introduced by a mutual friend. After that Elvira invited me out for coffee because she wanted an interview for her blog but we spent the whole time talking about everything else. We spent the rest of the day together and just kept talking. A barebones skeleton of POSTSCRIPT, some inkling of our mission statement, was conceptualised in those hours.
Elvira: It was over a year ago. A mutual friend initially introduced me to some of Chinasa’s designs for her fashion brand, Weruzo. I immediately fell in love with the ethos and aesthetics of her brand. It felt warm, charming, sophisticated, intelligent – just as, I would soon come to learn, Chinasa is. I managed to meet her at an event and strategised a way of enforcing a friendship onto her (little did she know that ‘blog interview’ was really a friend date). The day we met for coffee, we got on so well that I decided to include Chinasa at my later meetings too. We talked for hours about identity, politics, sociology and by the end of the day made a pact to create something meaningful together in the future.our friendship only started a few months before our working relationship we had to be upfront with each other about our working patterns and preferences, I think understanding and respecting those behaviours in each other has been really… Click To Tweet
2. Trust is an important aspect in any relationship, how have you been able to build the trust between you?
Elvira: It takes time to build trust with anyone. As Chinasa and I got to know one another, we remained openly reflective of our individual and paired journey to creating POSTSCRIPT. Honesty played a large role in nurturing the development of that trust.
Chinasa: Also respect. Because our friendship only started a few months before our working relationship we had to be upfront with each other about our working patterns and preferences, I think understanding and respecting those behaviours in each other has been really important.
3. Disagreements happen in every relationship, as co-founders how do you manage disagreements and making final decisions?
Chinasa: We trust that the other person has the brand’s best interests at heart and we talk through things. We both love analysis so we approach disagreements the same way; what are you saying and what am I hearing? Are they different? We also go back and forth. If something isn’t working and we can’t come to a decision in the moment we take a break and look at it separately and then come back together.
Elvira: It’s not about anyone’s ego, it’s about the survival of the business. We have to believe that neither one of us is trying to sabotage the company – ultimately we both want to see it thrive. So, if we really can’t come to an agreement on a major decision, we scrap both points of view completely and orchestrate an idea which works for us both. It can make the decision-making process longer but is worth it because we always come out with a better plan of action when we put our heads together.
4. What are your working styles and if different from one another, how do you bring them together?
Chinasa: We process differently, Elvira is much more an in the moment – need a solution now thinker, while I have to go away and work through the issue on my own. I also don’t like having my schedules changed at all! It comes back to respecting each other. For example, If Elvira comes across an issue, she’ll say, “This is what I think we should do… but go away and think about it” because she knows I need time to process, whereas, if I come across an issue, I’ll present my solution and then Elvira will usually share her thoughts immediately.
Aside from that, I’d say we’re pretty similar – we both need defined plans, deadlines and a clear division of labour to work.
Elvira: So true, I definitely take a more immediate approach to work. I get excited by ideas and like to see them come to fruition as soon as possible. Chinasa prefers not to be rushed. She digests ideas deeply and so produces consciously. It was always expected that we would have to adjust to each other’s working styles but it hasn’t been hard because of our mutual respect for one another. We have the same vision but different methods of execution. I’m pushy but Chinasa keeps me grounded.
5. There’s a myth that “women can’t work together because we tend to be quite emotional etc” and some other lies, what are your thoughts on this and what message do you have for people that hold this opinion?
Elvira: It’s silly because there is so much evidence that presents women as great leaders, because, and not in spite of, emotional intelligence. Throughout my working life, I’ve never felt like there were issues specifically with women working together. There are issues with people working together, whether competitiveness or pettiness, but that’s not predicated by gender. That’s down to personal characteristics.
Chinasa: Gender doesn’t produce any biological leaning towards emotional behaviour, it just influences its judgement. Some people are more visibly emotional than others and I’m sure that occasionally makes itself known in their work. My reaction to stress and a heavier workload is to quieten down and retreat, Elvira, on the other hand, becomes chattier. I wouldn’t say either of us is more emotional, we just present it differently and that’s fine.
6. What are some important attributes one should look for in a co-founder?
Elvira: There is a quote I love along the lines of ‘if you both agree on everything, there is no need for one of you’. It’s counterintuitive to source a cofounder that’s exactly like you. You should look for someone who holds the same vision and principles as you do but has different strengths. Strengths that balance your weaknesses and vice versa. Diversity limits a one-sided perspective and therefore is imperative for growth in all fields.
Chinasa: I think you should definitely look for someone that exists in the same moral landscape. They don’t have to be identical to you but I’m not sure polar opposite moralities would work. I would also agree with finding someone who has different strengths to you that would be beneficial for your business. That way you have a well-rounded skill pool to pull from.There is a quote I love along the lines of ‘if you both agree on everything, there is no need for one of you’. It’s counterintuitive to source a cofounder that’s exactly like you.- Elvira, co-founder of POSTSCRIPT Click To Tweet
7. What makes you feel empowered?
Chinasa: Seeing people connect with POSTSCRIPT and all the plans we have lined up.
Elvira: Yes, and getting shit done and done well. We created POSTSCRIPT in a relatively short space of time but all that hard work paid off. I’m extremely proud.
8. Podcast or book? And which one would you recommend?
Elvira: I haven’t jumped on the podcast bandwagon. I’m not a good multitasker so when I digest information, I need to give it total consciousness. A book commands my attention in a way that a podcast has never, as of yet. My favourite recent read would have to be ‘A Road Less Travelled’ for the superbly succinct way in which M. Scott Peck breaks down human behaviour, relationships and spirituality.
Chinasa: Books over podcasts for me, as well – Too many to count so I’ll say what I’m reading now: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein, Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami, Zealot by Reza Aslan and an oldie but an unforgettable favourite is Damage by Josephine Hart.
But if you want a podcast – The Receipts Podcast is one of my favourites at the moment along with Otegha’s (In Good Company) and Pardon My French with Garance Doré.
9. Could you share something about your co-founder that you would like to appreciate?
Chinasa: Definitely Elvira’s enthusiasm. I start from a place of what could go wrong with this and then work my way to enthusiasm as the details come together and she comes from the opposite perspective. It’s lovely because I can borrow some of hers while mine warms up to the same level. We balance each other out.
Elvira: There are a million things I could praise Chinasa for, where do I even begin? Her resounding patience is hugely admirable. It must stem from how deeply she cares. The world often beats that kind of patience out of us by the time we’re adults, especially adults living in a fast-moving city like London. It’s beautiful that Chinasa continues to maintain such time and patience for others.Know yourself and your working patterns before seeking out someone else because working intimately with someone else will bring any differences or misgivings into sharp focus. - Chinasa, co-founder of POSTSCRIPT Click To Tweet
10. Any last advice for those seeking a co-founder?
Elvira: Source someone who is as passionate about the project as you are. That passion is what will mostly hold you both to the end. Also, reflect on yourself so you know what you’re lacking and how someone else might make you stronger.
Chinasa: I second that. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve and your expectations of each other. Know yourself and your working patterns before seeking out someone else because working intimately with someone else will bring any differences or misgivings into sharp focus.
To get a copy of POSTSCRIPT, you can make an order on their website.