SN 1 EP 5

Working with Co-founders

Feat. Lizzie Carter, Founder/Director of Only Curls

As a co-founder, it's of the utmost importance that your business partner is someone you trust like a life partner.

For Lizzie Carter, building Only Curls with her co-founder, Hugo, meant combining both.

Lizzie Carter began her career in the fashion industry but had the itch to start a business of her own with her partner, Hugo Lewis. 

Then one day, Lizzie was looking for the perfect solution for her own hair, and she quickly realized there was a huge gap in the market. Curly hair had largely been neglected in the beauty sector, especially in the UK. 

In response, Lizzie and Hugo created Only Curls, a London-based haircare line made specifically to help people across the UK manage and maintain their luscious locks.

On this episode

Lizzie talks with Katie and Jenny about:

  • Her and Hugo’s dynamic as co-founders
  • How the duo navigates disagreements 
  • Her advice for picking a business partner
  • A difficult time her and Hugo worked through together

Top takeaways

Editor’s Note: We’ve edited and condensed the questions and answers slightly for clarity.

What’s your and Hugo’s dynamic as co-founders?

If you look at our skill sets and personalities, they’re completely different. 

I drive him crazy with my creative scatteredness, whereas he’s more strategic in the way he works. 

He’s really good at delegating, which I’m not—I like to keep control of things and I have a tendency to hold on to things until I can’t anymore. 

He works on the tech side of the business—he does all our email marketing, Facebook ads, Google ads, and the website. I do all the branding, social media, and product development, so our skill sets are completely different.

We complement each other in a way that has allowed us to slowly grow the business together without spending a lot of money on external help, and that’s worked well in conjunction with our personal life. 

Has there been a time when you and Hugo have been on the opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to a problem? How do you navigate that?

It’s looking at your skill sets and seeing how they complement each other, but also making sure they’re different enough so you can both work on different things. 

If your expertise is the same, you’re going to have too much overlap in your roles in the business. And that’s going to cause problems because you’re going to have conflict over who’s doing what, and it just doesn’t make sense. 

If you’re both taking on completely different roles, it’s going to allow you to grow the business much more quickly. And it makes for a much more successful relationship, as well.

What do you think is the most important thing in picking a business partner?

It’s looking at your skill sets and seeing how they complement each other, but also making sure they’re different enough so you can both work on different things. 

If your expertise is the same, you’re going to have too much overlap in your roles in the business. And that’s going to cause problems because you’re going to have conflict over who’s doing what, and it just doesn’t make sense. 

If you’re both taking on completely different roles, it’s going to allow you to grow the business much more quickly. And it makes for a much more successful relationship, as well.

Could you tell us about a time with Only Curls that was tough and how you worked through it?

When we applied for an EU trademark, it was rejected, and we received a cease and desist from a company with a similar name. 

We fought it and won, but that was stressful since it was still early days for the business and it cost us about €10K to get the situation sorted. 

We were up against a much bigger company that didn’t do cosmetics, so they had no grounds for it, but it was really frustrating. 

That also happened at a time we were on holiday and it was our first holiday in a year. We were in Antigua and I got a phone call. 

I feel like that’s the biggest thing about running a business—it just doesn’t stop. You try to go away and have a bit of time off and you get a phone call like that. 

You have to be prepared for that as an entrepreneur because you can’t turn it off.