Creative Genius Podcast

Season 9 Episode 7

When Spouses are Business Partners (Karen Wolf & Matt Brown)

When Spouses are Business Partners (Karen Wolf & Matt Brown)

With two working spouses, finding a career-marriage balance can be difficult. When taking on a business partner, negotiating work styles and roles can be tough. So when spouses decide to go into business together, one might expect the challenges could be exponentially greater. Some couples, though, find a way to make it work. Some even find it rewarding.

In this episode, Gail talks with Karen B. Wolf and Matt Brown of K+CO Living interior design, based in Short Hills, New Jersey. Karen is the owner and creative principal. Matt is the chief operations officer. They also are wife and husband. Karen recently rebranded her firm from KBW Interiors to take her name out of the firm’s name and position the firm as a modern coastal look leader. Having decided to leave his business in the food industry after more than 20 years, Matt joined the firm to provide much-needed managerial support and free up more of Karen’s time to do what she does best—create.

Gail asked Karen and Matt what sorts of issues they had to consider when deciding to go into a business partnership together. On the plus side, said Karen, their personalities and skill sets are uniquely different and complementary. At the same time, they share the same common values and their personalities are compatible. Also, they have clearly defined roles in the business, so they don’t compete with one another.

The COO role is to support the CEO and their vision, explained Matt. His job is to take care of the back office and let the designers do what they do best. He has no facility for design, he said, and stays out of that side of the business. On the other hand, he has more than 30 years’ operations management experience and knows that Karen trusts his expertise and judgment in those matters.

As partners and a married couple, it’s important that they maintain a united front when interacting with the rest of the team, said Karen. “We need to be on the same page and avoid having disagreements in front of the staff,” said Matt. Karen added that they also have to be careful about how much personal information they share in the workplace. They are partners at work and spouses at home.

Karen also talked about some of the challenges she’s had to overcome in building her firm into a multimillion-dollar business and about her future plans for the business. For that and more insights into what makes for a successful couple-partner relationship, listen to the entire podcast.

Mentioned in This Podcast

To learn more about Karen, Matt and K+CO Living, visit the firm’s website at

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