4 things you should know before you start a business with your best friend

How friends and founders of Wonderhood Toys did it. 

4 things you should know before you start a business with your best friend

Girls can be anything they dream. From engineers to scientists, any future is within reach. As mothers and fathers, we firmly believe this.


But surrounded by damsels in distress and toys that show women in traditional roles (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), moms, and besties, Andrea Wenner Hollander and Solange Schipani decided it was time to expand toy horizons.

Enter Wonderhood Toys. Motivated by statistics that girls feel they can’t or don’t pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), they created a line of toys that inspired girls’ creative and scientific sides.

Since launching, they’ve been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, People Magazine, Huffington Post, and Good Housekeeping, as well as receiving numerous awards and accolades.

But it hasn’t always been roses.

Building a business with your bestie is full of ups and downs, and today the founders of Wonderhood Toys are sharing exactly how the experience differed from their expectations.

Hey, it’s Andrea and Solange here!

Here are four myths we busted about running a business with your bestie:

Myth 1: We would always agree

Fact: As it turns out, we don't always agree! There are a lot of decisions to be made when you're starting and running a business, some minor and some major, so it's inevitable that there are times when you and your partner are not aligned. Most important when those instances arise is that we're honest and respectful of each other's opinions, and work hard to be open-minded as we listen to each other's perspectives. So far, we've done that really successfully and have been able to work through any disagreements without a problem.

Myth 2: The combination of our two business degrees was enough

Fact: We thought that between the two of us, we'd have the range of skills needed to be successful. We both have business degrees, and we pursued really different paths post-graduation, so we thought that we each brought different skills and experiences to bear. In fact, we're missing a few! For example, we both use social media casually in our personal lives, but we quickly learned that it's a totally new world out there when it comes to using it as a tool to build your brand and communicate with customers. We're both a little older than the generation of millennials that grew up with social media so that's a big one where we've had to hire external people to help us.

Myth 3: Between the two of us, we could do it all

Fact: There's a lot about this industry that we don't know and we've really had to lean on some helpful mentors for guidance and advice. We've turned to a few industry veterans on a whole range of issues, from distribution channels, to logistics and inventory management, to PR and social media.

Some have helped us by actually rolling up their sleeves and working alongside us to get some things done, like shipping out almost 300 individual packages to our Kickstarter backers, and some have helped by answering our many questions and sharing their knowledge and experience.

We feel really lucky that we've been able to turn to a whole network of friends, family, and colleagues for guidance, and each time the people we've reached out to have been generous with their time and advice.

Myth 4: Our vision for the company was the same

Fact: When we started out, we both had a very similar vision for where we wanted to see Wonderhood go and what our strategy would be to achieve those goals.

We've heard some horror stories from other co-founders about how their visions really diverged as their companies evolved or their personal lives changed. We tried to learn from those stories and had some very direct conversations up front, and even more importantly, we continue to check in with each other about the big picture on a regular basis.

We're happy to say that our expectation has in fact been reality in this case. We remain very much aligned on what we would like Wonderhood to become—an internationally recognized brand that makes high-quality, multi-dimensional, creative building toys for girls—and how we think we can get there. That unified vision has been incredibly beneficial as we've gone forward in building this company and as we think ahead to what's next.

Want more? Here are more Motherly insights from Andrea and Solange.

How do you make your mornings run smoothly?

Solange: It's all about routine for me. Everyone in my family knows what's going to happen when we get out of bed. Clothes are already picked out for the kids, my husband and I know what each of has to do to get everyone out the door on time, the girls know what they need to do, and then we all just go to it.

The lifehack or tip that has changed my life. . .

Solange: Lists! I make a list each night for everything I need to get done the next day, whether it's for my family, our business, or me personally.

What superpower have you discovered as a mom?

Andrea: Patience. I've always been a pretty patient person, but having kids has taken that to a whole new level!

This quote inspires me. . .

Andrea: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.” —Alice Walker

To me Motherly means…

Both: Unconditional love. No judgements, lots of understanding, and just lots of love no matter what happens.

Haley Campbell is the founder of Beluga Baby and creator of the ultimate bamboo baby carrier. She is a regular contributor to Motherly and is an avid advocate for entrepreneurs, and for the new generation of mothers making the world their own.

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