The Star – The Business Magazine – Feb/March 2016
Delighted to have participated in this piece in The Star Business Magazine. Here is our take on the situation. You can read the full interviews with all six couples in the attached PDF.
Your partner is the other half of you – but could you cope if they were also the other half of your business? We ask 6 couples for the low down on their 24/7 relationships….
“We always thought it would be a nightmare to work together…” Jamie Hempsall cheerily admits he had never planned to be in business with his life partner. Neither had he intended to become an interior designer.
The pair had met when Jamie was 21 and in a top London drama school, his sights set on a career on the stage. Richard Bond, two years younger, was at university in Manchester studying business management and on track for a financial career.
Both achieved their ambitions.
Richard became an accountant and business analyst, firstly with Tesco where he helped launch TescoDirect, then with Center Parcs as a main board director. Meanwhile Jamie worked successfully in London theatre for six years and dabbled in interior design between jobs.
They moved back to Jamie’s native Nottinghamshire following a family bereavement, which was when Jamie started his interior design business. As Jamie Hempsall Ltd grew, he realised that he needed some assistance with the non-design side of the business.
“Richard was just considering a career change and agreed to give me some help, but only on a temporary basis.We both thought we would end up killing each other if it was anything permanent because we thought so very differently,” says Jamie.
But being polar opposites made for the perfect formula. The company based in East Drayton near Retford is a multi-award winning practice. A member of the British Institute of Interior Design and the Society of British and International Design, it works with residential and commercial clients throughout the UK and parts of Europe.
Jamie, now 51, is the design director and Richard, 49, is the company MD. “It worked because we have blind faith in each other’s abilities, and realised we needed to leave each other to get on with what we do best,” says Jamie.
“Richard manages the contracts, the business planning, the finances, marketing and our media. I do the design. And 2016 is a special year for us. The company is 10 years old and we are celebrating our 30th anniversary together.”
Richard and Jamie entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and wed in 2014 immediately after the law changed to allow gay marriage.
“Since we met in 1986 we have seen massive changes in society’s attitude to homosexuality,” says Richard.
“It is only in retrospect that you realise quite how much society has moved forward. We never really experienced direct prejudice, but when you look back on it you understand there were a lot more everyday hurdles to overcome.
“We had to lie about our sexuality when we got a mortgage together to avoid premiums being inflated. Before civil partnerships we didn’t have the same rights regarding inheritance tax and pensions. If one of us had died the other would have had no pension rights and we would have had to pay inheritance tax just to stay in our own home – a very different state of affairs from a married couple.
“But we have always had the support of our families and friends and in business, being gay has not caused a single problem.When clients realise we are a couple they take us at face value.We now count many of them as close friends, which is wonderful.”
We work long hours together during the week so when we leave the office we made a pact not to talk about business, switch our mobile phones off and forget about emails. It was very difficult at first, but we’ve got pretty good at it. And we never take personal arguments into the office.
Who’s the boss?
We are each boss of our own specialities. Two halves make one whole.