Many first dates end up going nowhere. But for Jordan and Emily Edelson, dinner and drinks led not only to a marriage — but also a successful business partnership.
Last year, the pair co-founded an app called Chic Sketch, a cross between an Instagram-type platform, a guild of fashion illustrators and an on-demand purchasing app where customers can buy and share fashion sketches of themselves.
"I think we saw a lot of potential in each other for a number of different purposes, whether it be for a relationship or work. It was hard to get out of the work or friend zone," Jordan said. "We were able to merge forces and build this team together."
Here's how the app works: A person uploads a selfie, and a fashion illustrator turns that photo into a sketch, drawing it by hand, and then sends it to the customer within minutes. The customer can share the sketch in the app or on other platforms.
Jordan is the director of Chic Sketch and handles the tech side, while Emily is the lead fashion illustrator who oversees the creative side and a team of nine other illustrators.
Before co-founding Chic Sketch in February 2015, they had already run their own businesses. Jordan created Appetizer Mobile, an app development company that is the parent company of Chic Sketch and others. Emily ran her own fashion line and worked in the fashion industry.
From February 2015 to January, the company generated more than $100,000 in sales. Chic Sketch's client list includes Cartier, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, Sephora, AT&T and Samsung.
The Chic Sketch team has drawn "north of 10,000 sketches" over the past 15 months.
"It was about creating a concept that plays into people's own behaviors and habits. People are already used to taking selfies. We're playing into the vanity aspect of it and the personalization aspect of it," Jordan said.
But starting a company together wasn't all roses for the young couple, who are both 31. They had to develop strategies for handling the demands of entrepreneurship and marriage ... at the same time.
The first year of being both business and personal partners was especially tough, Jordan said. Figuring out how to separate work from personal matters was key, the couple said.
"What do you bring home? What do you leave at the office? As an entrepreneur, it's a hard line to draw," Jordan said. "Trying to figure out when to turn on husband mode or turn off co-founder and partner mode, there are all these hats. And that can put stress on a relationship, whether it's personal or professional."
Communication is key, Emily said.
"To be able to say, 'Hey, let's turn off from work for a little bit,' or on the other hand to start a second work shift from home at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. and the other understand ... it's important." Emily said.
The hard work has paid off. Chic Sketch is working on multiple partnerships and plans to expand the number of fashion illustrators it employs.
"I trust him with my life. And I think that's really important to have in a founding partner," Emily said.