An interview with Shay founders Ladan and Tania
There are so many things to love and appreciate about our moms: they teach us patience, answer our phone calls at any hour of the day (and night), and create social media accounts just to follow us (and only us). But even though we’ve got mom to thank for giving us life, that doesn’t mean she’d make for the ideal business partner. When you share a lifetime’s worth of stories and experiences with another person, navigating entirely new territory together as professionals can be tricky.
But some mother-daughter duos are proof that, despite the potential for disaster, familial partnerships can be an incredible opportunity for creative success. Just look at Goldie and Kate, Hillary and Chelsea, or Jada and Willow!
If there’s anything we’ve learned from these talented pairs, it’s that taking on the world with the woman who brought you into it can be extremely fulfilling. As the product of a mutual passion for jewelry and design shared by Ladan Shayan and her daughter Tania, it’s something we at Shay know first hand. And although this particular duo never imagined they’d go into business together, they couldn’t be happier that they did.
On the pros and cons of working with family:
Ladan Shayan: The biggest advantage is trust and knowing you can close your eyes and count on the other person. The biggest challenge is having proper boundaries and being able to keep work-life at work and home life at home
Tania Shayan: Honestly, working with my mom is the best. We have unlimited trust in each other and know that we’ve got one another’s best interests in mind. She’s got my back and I’ve got hers! We never second guess each other, and for me, working with my mom means I always come first. That being said, separating work from family time is definitely a challenge, and it’s hard to make sure that when we disagree about something it doesn't affect our lives outside of the office.
How they keep work from taking over family time:
LS: This is definitely the hardest part. We are both so passionate about what we do. We are always blurting out ideas, even at family dinners. Since we have a big family, Tania and I know it’s not all about us so we try to avoid bringing up Shay when we are with our loved ones.
TS: That’s a tough one for sure, especially because my mom and I are both either always working, or always thinking about work! We’ve gotten better about this, and we’re trying to be more firm about shutting off the work stuff when we’re supposed to be having a day off or even just a relaxing dinner. We’ve learned how to say, now isn’t the time or let’s discuss this later. Admittedly, that’s not always the case, but for the most part, we’ve gotten better.
Despite the challenges, they’re actually similar in more ways than one:
LS: The fact that we have the same taste is the best part of working on Shay. We are so aligned with each decision and both get really excited about the same pieces.
TS: It’s kind of scary... We can walk into the office wearing the same exact outfit, and if we go shopping together, usually 8 out of the 10 pieces we pick out are the same. We live in each other’s closets.
On the importance of communication and not taking things personally:
LS: The secret to doing this together and doing it well is communication and hard work. We’re constantly discussing every last detail, and while we take on the challenges together, we also share in the excitement of success.
TS: We have a lot of respect for each other’s tastes and opinions about how to handle certain situations. My mom is always pushing me and reminding me that I can do anything, and I’ve learned that you can’t take things personally. If we disagree on a work-related issue, it’s important that we explain our different points of view. We don’t allow ourselves to get upset over it.
And how mentorship goes both ways:
LS: I actually see Tania as a mentor in many ways. We are constantly learning from each other.
TS: It definitely goes both ways. I’ve absolutely learned things I would never have expected to learn from my mom, and I see a totally different side of her at work. I look up to my mom because she is always optimistic and she helps me work through my anxieties. I admire the risks she’s willing to take for the business, which has really helped Shay grow. She pushes us to do better, to do more, and to keep going without giving up. It’s amazing to see how strong she is and how she doesn’t get worked up over the little things.
They like to get the rest of the family involved too:
LS: When we need advice or guidance, we hire consultants if necessary, but we also like to run things by family pretty often.
TS: We are so lucky to have each other and to be able to discuss so much of the business together. I also have a brother and a sister who we’re always looking to for advice as well, along with some close friends.