Mixing Love and Business: The Couple Behind Local Startup Picneeds
What’s it really like working together with your other half? We chat with the founders of Picneeds – organisers of picnics and themed setups – to find out.
By Sam David
Singaporeans Khairul Amri, 32, and Siti Nadzirah, 27, tied the knot in 2016, but they’re more than just a married couple. In fact, they’re business associates who left their full-time jobs in 2015 (Khairul was a journalist and Nadzirah was a senior trade officer with Singapore Customs) to work on Picneeds. Their focus? Organise Instagram-worthy picnics and themed setups for any and every occasion, from wedding proposals to birthdays. To date, Khairul and Nadzirah have done about 25 weddings and solemnisations, and 150 corporate events. They also did an average of 25 picnics a month,
“I’ve an eye for aesthetics and have always been interested in conceptualising and planning birthday surprises for my friends,” said Nadzirah. “One time I decided to do a nice picnic for my best friend and got Khairul to help me out. When he saw the final result, he was so amazed at how lovely it looked that he jokingly asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could do this full-time?” – and I guess the rest is history.” Nadzirah says that the decision to work on Picneeds together with Khairul felt natural since they both complement each other so well.
Getting down to business
Nadzirah looks after the creative side of things and administrative matters, while Khairul handles operations and takes on all client-facing duties. The big question here is: what is it like working together as a couple?
“It’s not as easy as you think! Sometimes being a couple removes that filter of diplomacy when we have a difference of opinion, and as colleagues we tend to argue a lot,” says Khairul.
When asked how they deal with conflict, Nadzirah explains that she and Khairul make it a point to “fight it out”, pointing out that discussing differing views and opinions is healthy in a relationship. “Eventually you have to come to a compromise and move on for things to happen,” she says.
It takes two
Despite their occasional disagreements, the duo can tell you exactly what it is that they love about working with each other. Khairul is grateful for Nadzirah’s strong decision-making skills and her overall persistence, while Nadzirah says she appreciates how much she gets to see Khairul since she works with him. “Time is something you can’t buy or get back, and I’m glad to be able to grow together in our careers.”
One thing’s for sure, since the launch of Picneeds, the two have definitely learned more about the other. “We have differing working styles and ways in handling a problem,” says Nadzirah. “For example, I don’t like wasting time, whereas Khairul is more deliberate and meticulous. So if we have to fix the décor for an event, I would rather improvise and solve it right there and then. Khairul on the other hand, would prefer to get the right tools and resources to solve it. However, I always remind myself that I need to take a step back, be patient, and let things be done properly.
Khairul adds that they now also know which buttons to press (and which to avoid!), and how to sense when one has to step up to support the other when he or she is not in top form. “This helps keep the relationship — and the business — alive.”
Words of wisdom
Thinking of starting a business with your other half?
Nadzirah thinks that, no matter what the business is, it’s a good opportunity for any couple but emphasises dealing with tricky topics – like money – the proper way. “At the end of the day, the reality of business is to make money and discussing money issues can lead to a lot of uncomfortable arguments. So think of a way to distribute and allocate your financial resources wisely and fairly to avoid resentment.”
As for Khairul, he says go for it. “It is a journey of discovery that you shouldn’t pass up on. You get to spend most of the day together. However, it is also important to have alone time and time off with friends to keep both of you mentally and emotionally healthy.”