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Professional Soulmates

These marketers are proving that teamwork really does make the dream work.

Mailchimp partners include marketing experts, website developers, copywriters, app builders, bestselling authors, publicists, and SEO specialists who work algorithm magic. Thanks to our Mailchimp & Co community, more and more of our partners are joining forces. We chatted with 3 marketing duos—2 who’ve made their unions official by co-founding companies, and 1 that’s keeping it more casual—to learn why they decided to team up and how they’re making it work.

Kim Darragon + Lucy Werner = A Mailchimp Partner Power Couple

Who they are: Kim Darragon owns Kim Does Marketing, which offers marketing and event services. Lucy Werner, founder of The Wern, is a PR pro. They regularly co-host a PR and marketing clinic on Clubhouse.

How they met: Kim was a fresh-faced entrepreneur attending a Courier magazine-hosted marketing conference in London. Lucy was 9 months pregnant and giving a talk on how to hype yourself. “I had a massive professional crush on Lucy. She was due any day and was rocking the stage with a hilarious and super insightful presentation. She was such fun—there was no bullshit and no filter, and I knew I had to talk to her,” says Kim. Lucy, too, felt an immediate connection with Kim. She had peeped Kim on Instagram before the event and was excited to meet her.

Whose skills pay which bills: They haven’t officially tied the business knot, but these two Mailchimp partners are tag-teaming clients and leveraging their complementary skill sets—Kim’s marketing know-how and Lucy’s publicity prowess—to offer full-service marketing to a shared roster of clients.

Why they teamed up: After Kim slid into Lucy’s Instagram DMs, the collaboration came about naturally. According to Lucy, “Storytelling is such a key component of both our businesses, but we help small businesses on different elements of that. Whilst there is a lot of crossover in what we do, I see it as different parts of the brand-building jigsaw.”

The best part of having a partner: Kim and Lucy play in the same professional pool and have bonded over their shared industry expertise—they give each other a heads-up on positive partnership opportunities (and ones to avoid). These days, they’re more than colleagues, they’re bona fide friends.

Their advice for professionals seeking a work soulmate: These two think that you should always trust your gut—when the right person comes along, it’ll feel, well, right. According to Kim, not only should you be able to vibe with your future collaborator, but you should look for someone who “shares your values and mission. Someone whose personality matches or complements yours, someone who has the same work ethic and, of course, someone who targets the same type of clients.”

Bobby Barrett + Jillian McTigue = Mason Collective

Who they are: In 2017, acquaintances Jillian and Bobby joined forces to form Mason Collective, a marketing and creative agency located in Long Beach, California.

How they met: Tired of the corporate grind and eager to have more flexibility and independence, Bobby and Jillian were introduced by a mutual professional contact. After tackling one project together, they soon realized that not only did they enjoy working together, but their standards, expectations, and ambitions aligned, too.

Whose skills pay which bills: Bobby’s the creative director and designer, while Jillian’s the marketing strategist and communications expert.

Why they teamed up: Each saw strengths in the other that, when combined with theirs, would create a full-service creative and marketing offering for clients.

How they make it work: Though Bobby and Jillian admit to clashing occasionally, Mason Collective is thriving. The pair has built a network of long-standing clients, proving their work has hit the mark. Both are big believers in collaboration and together are constantly pushing the status quo: “We’re always looking for the problem, tweaking it, and thinking about user experience,” Jillian says. “This gets us into trouble sometimes because we keep raising the bar on ourselves. Thankfully, we’ve instituted a good system of checks and balances to ensure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.”

Their advice to those seeking a professional soulmate: They joke about their partnership being a work marriage, but for Jillian and Bobby it comes close to the truth. They’ve seen each other at their best and their worst. According to this duo, the key to success is communication. Whether you’re outlining your 5-year plan (and ensuring you’re on the same page), or sharing your feelings, it’s all about talking it out.

Dominique Varendorff + Cory Hoy = The Social Content Factory

Who they are: In 2016, Brisbane-based marketing pro Dominique Varendorff left the corporate world to form her own agency, the Social Content Factory. One year later, her husband, Cory Hoy, took the plunge, leaving his job in finance to join her. Now, they’re launching Australia’s first subscription-based email marketing and social media content service. With all their admin automated through a combination of Mailchimp and their own CRM, this pair is planning to quadruple their customer base this year.

How they met: The couple met at an EDM festival, but the idea of starting a company didn’t strike until 5 years later. “In the first year, when I was running the agency on my own, I was always asking Cory for his perspective on things, so even before he was officially a co-founder, he was very involved in the business. Really, Cory jumping on board just seemed like the next logical step,” says Dominique.

Whose skills pay which bills: Cory handles the accounting, client management, and copywriting. Dominique is the creative director, head organizer, and chief automator (she’s the brains behind their new subscription service).

How they make it work: Although a better work-life balance was one of the driving forces that motivated Dominique and Cory to leave their 9-to-5 corporate gigs, they soon realized starting a small business often means late nights, working weekends, and little downtime. “We always try and reward ourselves—whenever we close a client, or finish something early—with a beach day,” says Dominique. “Sometimes, though, it feels like we’re trying to bribe ourselves to work harder.”

What they’ve learned from each other: Before working with Dominique, Cory approached work reactively—when things needed to be done, he did them. Now, he’s embraced his wife’s hyper-organized ways. “She’s so systematized. There’s always a prioritized to-do list on the go. I’ve trained my brain to think like that now, although I’m still not at Dom’s level,” says Cory. Dominique, meanwhile, has learned that unplugging from work is essential. “Cory has taught me to have a bit more balance,” says Dominique. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn't switch off at 5 p.m. and take weekends as much as I do. Without him, I’d probably burn out.”

Their advice for professionals seeking a professional soulmate: “Find someone with a different skill set from yours,” says Dominique. “Otherwise you just end up stepping on each other’s toes all the time. That’s what we were doing in the beginning and it’s just hard to get something done. Once we divided tasks, according to who was best at what, everything got so much easier.”

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