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The Secret To These Entrepreneurs' Success Is Not What You Think

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    You want the right partner when starting a business — it's just as important as a brilliant idea. Sure, you could go all in with your BFF or life-partner in crime, but sometimes all you really need is family. Just ask Annette and Phoebe Stephens. The creative minds behind our new favorite jewelry line, Anndra Neen, also happen to be sisters.

    Growing up in Mexico City, as the only women in a family of five, they formed a bond at an early age. And, while they always knew they wanted to do something together, they never imagined it would be a jewelry line. “We were sitting in a café in Tokyo when the idea occurred to us" they said. "We had that lightbulb moment!”

    And, what a beautiful moment it was. Five years later and now based in New York, Annette and Phoebe have caught the eye of luminaries like Drew Barrymore and Michelle Obama with their Bauhaus- and Japanese-art-inspired designs — and now we can't get enough either. So, we teamed up with Clarks on one crisp, fall day to try on some shoes and talk shop. Read on for their tips on balancing business, family, and everything in between — and start dreaming up your own sibling-helmed empire. Advertisement


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    When creativity runs in the family, follow your instincts.
    The sisters come from a family involved in arts as well as design. They were raised to think visually. "Our passion for design bloomed and was solidified by starting our company," they say. "We now know we were always born to do this."

    Phoebe: Vintage sweater, Rick Owens jeans, A Détacher bag; Annette: Acne blazer, Alexander Wang skirt, Uniqlo turtleneck, Ferragamo bag.

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    First impressions count.
    You could dress for the job you want, but Annette and Phoebe already have their dream jobs. They describe their style as "fashion-forward business casual," but they know the importance of a good shoe. Shoes should represent your personal style, they say, but still be comfortable and fun to wear.

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    Have a vision (and agree on it).
    While Annette draws inspiration from photography, Phoebe turns to textiles. But, it doesn't matter: Their pieces are clearly designed for the same woman. Someone, they say, who is bold and fashion-forward.

    Phoebe: Chadwick Bell vest, Madwell jeans, Anndra Neen bracelet; Annette: Chadwick Bell cream silk shirt, rag & bone black jeans.

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    If you can't separate the personal from the professional, stop trying to.
    A work-life balance is crucial in any job, but when you work with family and friends, a strict divide might be too much of an ask. Conversations about work are never off limits for these two, and they never feel the need to separate the personal from the professional. Even during downtime at the Russian Baths or Spa Castle, they're not opposed to talking shop.

    Annette: Vintage jacket and jeans, Equipment shirt, Anndra Neen jewelry; Phoebe: Vintage black shirt and white pants, Anndra Neen jewelry.

    Pure Food and Wine, 54 Irving Place, New York, NY; 212-477-1010.

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    Play to each other’s strengths.
    Everyone has their thing — good or bad — but the key to a successful partnership is knowing how to complement each other. While Phoebe can see the big picture, Annette excels at finishing the task at hand. Fortunately, both balance out the other perfectly.

    Pure Food and Wine, 54 Irving Place, New York, NY; 212-477-1010.