BFFs Who Mix Work With Pleasure

Are you and your bestie cooking up a brilliant business? Or, maybe a new creative project? Then you should have a thing or two in common with these four sets of BFFs who've started groundbreaking projects together.
To see just what it's like to reach for the brass ring, hand in hand with your best bud, we teamed up with Levi's® on its #MakeOurMark campaign to talk to dynamic duos from the worlds of music, food, and fashion. Suited up in their favorite Levi’s denim workwear (naturally), these talented and successful friends prove a little entrepreneurism can be a very good (and profitable) thing for a friendship.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Lizzy Plapinger and Derek Davies, Founders, Neon Gold Records
These two crazy kids actually met as teenagers in summer camp, bonding over a shared love of indie music. Their transition from album-swapping buds to founders and owners of Neon Gold Records was so organic, it kinda seems inevitable in retrospect. Even though Plapinger’s out on the road with her own band, MS MR, they keep their friendship — and business — growing through constant contact.On Plapinger: Levi's The Legging in Landscape Photo Real, $78, available at; On Davies: Levi's The Commuter Trucker Jacket, $128, available at; Levi's 511 Slim Fit Jeans, $48, available at Hair and Makeup by Andrew Colvin; Styled by Jennifer Steele
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
You two met in summer camp, but Lizzy was living in the U.K. and Derek was in the U.S.? How did you keep the friendship going?
Davies: "You know, music's always been a bond that tied us together. As Lizzy hailed from London and I was from the U.S., we were always introducing each other to new music."

Plapinger: "And, when Derek and I were in high school, we'd send each other new music all the time. For instance, Bloc Party was one of our mutual favorites, and we were so excited about the release of Silent Alarm that the day it came out in the U.K., I ran out to Tower Records to get it and immediately uploaded and sent it to him."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Cool. So, how did you kick off the professional side of your relationship?
Davies: "When we finally started Neon Gold, we were doing it from our dorm rooms as college juniors. Lizzy was Upstate at Vassar, and I was studying in the city at NYU. So, I was kind of holding things down on the ground in New York, while Lizzy was handling order fulfillment and running our live operation remotely and coming in for any important meetings or shows a few times a month. Things got a lot easier when we graduated, and she moved to NYC, and we finally got a proper office!"
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
And, there's still a long-distance element to your partnership now that Lizzy's out on road with MS MR, right?
Plapinger: "Yes, since the band's started to take off, my role in the company has definitely evolved and changed, but it’s actually easier to stay involved and on top of things than I first worried it might be. On tour, I’m usually sitting in the car for a few hours a day, so it’s easy to listen to music and give feedback, answer emails, connect on conference calls, etc. It’s just about using my time wisely."
On Plapinger: Levi's Mens' Sherpa Trucker Jacket, $88, available at
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
And, how does that decades-long friendship translate into a work relationship?
Plapinger: "We’ve been best friends since we were 14, so, by now, our personalities sort of naturally complement each other. Derek is the eternal optimist, a perfectionist, an insanely hard-worker, and incredibly hyperbolic. I often have to play the role of the realist, which is important."

Davies: "Yeah, Lizzy’s definitely the voice of reason at Neon Gold, the personality of the label, and, like, a walking embodiment of the brand. Just look at her hair!"
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
What do each of you think the other's best qualities are?
Davies: "She’s always had this fascinating inherent ability to connect with artists on any number of levels, which I suppose comes from the fact that she’s an artist herself. I’ve never met someone so easily able to win literally anyone over within seconds of meeting them."

Plapinger: "His vision! I really believe he is going to change the music industry forever; everyone will probably be working for him one day."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Sari Azout and Sari Bibliowicz, Founders, Bib + Tuck
Want to talk about lifelong friends? The two Saris were talking style all the way back in kindergarten! Together they’ve grown into clothes-sharing BFFs who finally went into business together when they figured out how to turn their love of trading pieces into their addictive web service, Bib + Tuck. Even though everything changed in their lives since launching B+T, it seems their friendship has stayed exactly, perfectly, the same.On Azout (left): (similar) Levi's Wool Moto Trucker Jacket, $138, available at On Bibliowicz (right): Levi's Western Shirt, $68, available at; vintage Levi's romper. Hair and Makeup by Andrew Colvin; Styled by Jennifer Steele
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
So, wait, you guys met in kindergarten?
Azout: "Yeah! I think we actually bonded over Petit Bateau as a fashion statement, if you can believe that. I think that, from the beginning, our friendship was defined by a closeness of closets. It was definitely love at first sight."

Bibliowicz: "I'd say it was puppy love at first site, and that it was probably our mutual love for Legos, Barbies, and finger-painting that brought us together."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
But, when did you two know that you'd be good business partners, too?
Azout: "I knew that Sari B. would be the right person to start a business with when we planned a Euro trip after graduating high school. Actually, I mean, she planned it — right down to the last dot. She did it all."

Bibliowicz: "Well, I planned our itinerary..."

Azout: "I didn’t want to do that work."

Bibliowicz: "But Sari A. planned our financials. Not only did we realize how complementary our strengths were, but traveling alone with someone for a whole month shows you the good, the bad, and the ugly of your relationship with that person. You know, the ugly on that trip was actually quite pleasant."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
When was that moment that you decided, 'Yep, it's time to go into business together'?
Azout: "Actually, there was never this aha moment. We never said, 'Okay, let’s do this.' We would chat about it over Sunday brunch or after getting home from work — we were roommates at the time. Then one day, we decided to make a promo video for the site (mind you, this was before we had a site up and running. I know, I know). Before we knew it, we were on, and that’s when we realized we couldn't [go] back. We had to pursue this. Yes, starting a business with one of your best friends is a gamble. A lot of people advised us against it — and we knew it was. We just knew it was a really good one."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Interesting. So, what do you think the benefits are of working with someone you've known basically all your life?
Bibliowicz: "We're both very efficient in the way we work. We never need to brainstorm for hours nor do we go off topic too often. Our fruition process is a simple, one-hour conversation — I think we just get each other. We brainstorm, come up with an idea, and execute instantly. We don’t wait to get started."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
And, how do your personalities complement each other at work?
Azout: "Well, I overthink everything, while Sari B. has a lot of common sense. I’m usually freaking out; she’s the glass-half-full type. I get the French fries; she’ll get the salad."

Bibliowicz: "Yeah, she tends to be more serious, and I’m a bit sillier, so she keeps me in check and I lighten up the mood. If anyone knows Sari A., they know she’s absolutely brilliant. Her brain is always turned on. She's a much better risk-taker than I am. She’ll jump in headfirst and won’t look back."

Azout: "Yeah, but she's the one who's literally comfortable talking to anyone, anywhere. She once stopped Anna Wintour to have a five-minute conversation with her. Meanwhile, I didn’t know where to hide! She doesn’t take no for an answer!"
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Mia Moretti and Margot, Musicians, The Dolls
Now here’s a case of a new friendship creating a new artistic venture. In fact, it’s almost impossible to separate the development of violinist Margot (a.k.a. Caitlin Möe) and DJ Mia Moretti’s cozy relationship from the launch and growth of their band, The Dolls. Both the friendship and the group are still young, but it looks like each is geared for the long run.Both are wearing Levi's 550™ Men's Relaxed Fit Jeans in Black, $44, available at Hair by Marcos Diaz, Makeup by Andrew Colvin, Styled by Jennifer Steele
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Okay, how did you Dolls first get together?
Moretti: “We met at a venue in the East Village, where I was DJing and Margot was booked as a special performance.”

Margot: “At the time, I honestly wasn’t that familiar with dance music or DJs, having grown up in a classical world. But, I remember being intrigued when I first saw Mia doing her thing.”

Moretti: “And, as soon as I heard her play, I was entranced by how beautiful the strings sounded. Watching her play gave me so many ideas, but because I had never seen a DJ and violinist perform together before, I wasn’t exactly sure what would come of it."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
How did you start this collaboration when you didn't even know if there was one to be had?
Moretti: "We decided to get together to go through music and just chat and see if we were on the same page creatively.”

Margot:“Yeah, when we got together at Mia’s house, she played me all sorts of dance and disco, Motown, and pop records.”

Moretti: “From there, we just took it day-by-day, and eventually creating original music was part of our evolution.”
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
How do you develop ideas as a duo?
Moretti: “We’re together so much of the time that we’re able throw ideas back and forth whenever we get inspired by something. There’s no hard line of who does what.”

Margot: “Well, I can’t DJ! Hah. No, I mean that both of us have rather defined roles in that neither of us can do what the other does. Because of that, our partnership isn’t about delegating who does what. It all just happens naturally. I think we both know our strengths and act on them, taking charge in the areas we need to. It makes it pretty easy to work together."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
So, you're constantly together during work and play?
Margot: “Totally! What’s the point of going through life as a Doll if you don’t have another Doll to go through it with? See, when you’re thrown on tour together, 24/7, you get to know someone very fast. Now, Mia’s my sis. I see her every day (even on our ‘off days’). There’s hardly any difference between our work hours and play hours.”
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
And, how do you avoid the pitfalls of "creative differences"?
Moretti: “It helps that we’re very much the same person, which makes working together so easy and carefree…but also very productive.”

Margot: “See, we both grew up in small, relaxed environments and are both very spontaneous. We try to keep things stress-free (which probably has something to do with all those close-call missed flights…), and I actually don’t think we’ve ever been in an argument of any sort. It’s important to be flexible when you’re working and performing together. You never know what’s going to happen.”
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal, Founders, Immaculate Infatuation
Stang and Steinthal met as they were working their way through music-industry jobs in NYC, sharing a love of good eats and a frustration over a lack of fun, engaging food-review sites. Checking off both those boxes, they created Immaculate Infatuation, a restaurant-hunting website that’s both an expression of their lovably dudish personalities and a great way to find the best burger or bar in your ‘hood. On Stang (left): Levi's Trucker Jacket, $88, available at; Levi's 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans, $128, available at On Steinthal (right): Levi's Trucker Jacket, $88, available at; Levi's Barstow Western Shirt, $68, available at; Levi's 510 Skinny Fit Jeans, $52, available at by Andrew Colvin; Styled by Jennifer Steele
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
How did you guys first meet?
Stang: “As I remember it, we met during CMJ in 2000. A mutual friend invited a group of people to be in the audience at TRL, and we were each in that group. We met and instantly knew that we were both way cooler than everyone else in the room, including…actually, especially Carson Daly.”

Steinthal: “Yeah, Destiny’s Child was on, and they sat the two of us together, literally right behind Carson. During the first commercial break, we were promptly yanked from that spot, because we weren’t freaking out enough. We went [out] that night and crushed a 12-pack of Coors Light each, while making big plans to take over the world together.”
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
And, after that, what was the first project you worked on together?
Steinthal:"The first bright idea we had was our own record company. With the record biz in the toilet, we decided that wasn’t exactly the best move. Our next genius idea was a T-shirt company. We had some meetings, came up with a name, and produced exactly one T-shirt."

Stang:"Actually, no T-shirts were produced."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
How do you break up the work at Immaculate Infatuation between you two?
Steinthal: "The two of us split everything right down the middle. We each write two restaurant reviews a week, and we’ll assign each other projects to take the lead on as they come in. When one of us has clearly gone above and beyond one week, the other one will step up the following week. It’s all about communication and balance.”
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
But, specifically, is there one area either of you focus on?
Stang: "Yeah, we each play to our strengths. Mine's in marketing and business initiatives; Andrew’s is in PR and partnerships. In a lot of ways, we’re exactly alike, and in many ways, we’re complete opposites. I guess you could say we’re soul mates."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
And, how do you two dudes keep the partnership, the friendship, and the ideas fresh?
Steinthal: "We’ve reviewed over 750 restaurants in four years, so obviously, we spend a lot of time going out to dinner together. We reserve time for date night at least twice a month, and the rest of the time, we divide and conquer our meals. Before we were business partners, we were close friends who ran in the same social circle. That hasn’t changed. For us, the best ideas seem to always come when we are not thinking about them. It is at those moments when we will call/text/message each other with our big ideas, usually initiated with a 'DUDE!'"