crystal hodges

Thoughts on Partnership, Love INDO by Natalie Pavela

indo Our spring salon discussion dove into the joys and challenges of women in business together. We were delighted that both Crystal Hodges and Linsey Burritt, the dynamic team behind INDO (and the gals behind the Honey Maid "Love" phenomenon), were able to join in the gathering. Both shared candidly about challenges facedespecially in the early stages of their partnershipand ultimately, the comfortable groove they've reached after a few years in business together. Today they're sharing some wisdom on business partnerships that's valuable not just for entrepreneurs, but for anyone who's seeking healthy working relationships. It comes down to dividing and conquering based on your strengths, teaching, trusting and supporting one another, acknowledging emotions, and having balance from relationships outside of work.

1_There are two of you There was a point where we did everything together. We made every decision together, we co-wrote emails, concepted together, wrote proposals together. You know who had a sense of ownership about a project? Usually both of us. You know who usually got emotional about an idea because it was hard to shmoosh two into one ALL the time? Both of us.  You know how long things took? Forever. You can both do the same job if that works for your set up, just try to have split up the roles on different jobs. Is your partner kicking your ass at a certain thing? Ask them for a tip! Recognize you each have different strengths and can learn from each other.

recognize you each have different strengths and can learn from each other

I must say that for us starting out this way created the foundation for our business, but I think we held onto it a bit too long. In reality, we could have learned all we did in a shorter amount of time if we followed all this future advice. What we really needed to do was detach a little and trust a whole lot more!


2_Emotions Don’t let emotions stifle your business. It doesn’t matter who did what, who started what, who found what, who’s idea it was - because you wouldn’t be partners if both of you didn’t matter to the company in some important way.  Acknowledge to the other person if you are feeling emotional about something, attached to an idea, feeling unable to let go of an idea, excited about somethingand then discuss it openly. Or if your partner seems overly emotional about somethingacknowledge it and validate that is ok to feel that waythey might really need that. Then you can look for a practical approach to deal with whatever that is, together. Sometimes just simply acknowledging emotions makes them MUCH easier to deal with.  When you co-found a business of COURSE you feel emotional about it, it’s your baby! But acknowledge, let go, and be rational. Even though we are business women, we are people too.

lb 3_Built in support You always have someone to cheer you on and tell you that you can do it. This person will understand what the work entails and really mean what they say (because your friends, romantic partner and mom haven’t strung a thousand pieces of paper together and know what that feels like...)

This also means that it isn’t a competition, you are on the same team. Is your partner always getting things done faster? Congratulate them! Are you really good at something insanely detailed and your partner hates doing it? Expect a thank you!  Yes, you are partners, yes it is your job, but a little thanks, congratulations or acknowledgment goes a long way towards feeling appreciated and useful:) Teamships rule.

 you are on the same team

When we first started it was awesome to work together. Overtime things got a little stale (because we were doing exactly the same job) so very little support was being exchanged. After we finally started leading our own projects and taking more individual responsibility, supporting each other came back into the picture and really made our work life richer!

4_Respect your free time, and your partner's Granted, sometimes you will have a huge deadline and need your partners attention after work hours. But do you need to tell them about an annoying email you got at 7pm via text (2 hours after your joint end of day when they might be eating dinner?)  Maybe not. Or are you sending emails late at night when your other (romantic) partner is trying to talk to you and feels ignored?

Having a work life balance is important to having a good work life and a good personal life (you can have both!)  Most of us can’t be nurturing all the things we need to be nurturing every second of the day. Establish some boundariesacknowledge you both might have different boundaries that work for you - and figure it out.


5_ There are two of you, but only one of you You both have a company you are really proud of, you pour equal amounts of love into it, but don’t lose yourself to it completely. Acknowledge your strengths, weaknesses, projects you (or your partner!) killed it on. Figure out when to use ‘I’ and when to use ‘we’. Just remember that you have a personal flair, personal accomplishments, personal goals (so does your partner) and you should let them shine. 100% you + 100% your partner equals 100% awesome business.

figure out when to use ‘I’ and when to use ‘we’

Friends, how could you not follow along with these totally fantastic creators on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

These Are Not My Problems: Lacuna Artist Lofts Opening by Julie Schumacher

One of the best parts of Forth is the chance to celebrate the endeavors of the community we're building. As Shannon Colón put it, "I adore the Forth community, and always leave feeling inspired and refreshed, so why wouldn't I go? I love meeting new Forth family and seeing how they're tearing it up." untitled-3

And so several alums gathered at the Lacuna Artist Lofts last Saturday for the opening of These Are Not My Problems, a show on systemic change work which attempted (and I'd say successfully!) "to marry creators, activists, policy makers, art admirers and anyone with a desire to reclaim humanity." Indeed!

With topics ranging from economic inequality to solitary confinement, rape advocacy to environmental degradation, the war on drugs to drone warfare, the show, presented by the 8th Day Center for Justice and curated by Jeremy Van Cleef, the show featured three Forth participants, all from our Spring '14 salon, among the civic minded artists.

Pitch Design Union principle Margot Harrington's The Certificate of Safe Space addressed her ongoing engagement with the creation of protected, empowering and productive spaces for all people. Inspired by her assigned topic of sexual harassment, she broadened the reach to embrace all individuals' rights to feel and be safe.

Activism is a way of life and work for Margot, who was recently summoned to the White House a for a Data Jam related to protecting students from sexual assault. What'a Data Jam? Read from Margot herself here.


Crystal Hodges and Linsey Burritt of INDO had a taste of just what it means to go viral when their installation partnership with Honey Maid sent the interwebs on fire. They created an intentionally positive response to a (not all) negative response to a more inclusive take on the word "wholesome." The YouTube views alone are creeping towards 4 million.


As part of the INDO installation, visitors are invited to sign a pledge dedicated to raising awareness to one of the 13 causes These Are Not My Problems addresses. Then, they were rolled up, glued and added to the pillars of positivity supporting the LOVE.


The gals we've gotten to know through Forth produced two of the pieces showcased, and the rest were equally moving, thoughtful and though-provoking. Kelly Allison shared, "The show was an amazing collaboration of artists, uniting to stand against today's most pressing issues of social injustice. At once empowering, challenging, and eye opening, each piece was perfectly curated and executed to drive home the message that change is due, and it's up to us to start a revolution."

The Pilsen space itself is worth a visit. An old macaroni factory(!!), the large space is chock full of galleries, event spaces, local makers and businesses.

The show is up all month long. Go, add your voice, get inspired and act.