Hannah BFLF here. A while back my boyfriend and I did an interview about our family and working/business relationships. It was never published but I thought it was too good to go to waste. So here it is in all its glory (if nothing else do read the last Q&A). Love H
Full Names: Hannah Saunders and David Round
Ages: 47 and 50
Location: Brixton, London
Business: Big Fish Little Fish, running family raves across the country
How do you describe what it is you do?
Hannah: Big Fish Little Fish is drawn from our experience as clubbers, festival goers and parents to create a unique space for families with young children to enjoy themselves together. At its heart is with dancing to great club music. It’s daft, creative, social and a bit anarchic.
How long have you been together?
David: 12 years.
How did you meet?
David: We originally met while taking the same degree at University College, London. We were friends but lost touch. Then in 2004 Hannah googled me and the rest is history.
Hannah: We were in the same tutor group. D never liked any of my boyfriends and used to buy me expensive wine when I popped over to his flat. I should have known……
Was it a big decision deciding to go into business together?
David: It was barely a decision at all. Hannah had a great idea for a business and started to develop it while looking after our two very small children. Natasha Morabito had started working with her and I was helping out where I could. Meanwhile, I was a Buying Director for a wine merchant and thinking of looking for a new job. Hannah suggested I resign, become primary caregiver for the children and help her out with Big Fish Little Fish while I planned my next move into wine. It wasn’t a decision that required much soul-searching – I immediately knew I wanted to do it.
Hannah: Yup – it all happened by accident rather than design but from the beginning D acted as my sounding board given all his business experience and as the roadie due to necessity (I can’t drive and we have a lot of kit to shift to each event). It felt like the move was gradual because at first when he stopped at the wine buying job he just took over childcare and it’s been over two years that he’s gradually taken on a significant role around business strategy and venue finding. One day I just realised we were indeed working together – like a really slow-moving takeover attempt (just kidding).
What are the biggest challenges working together?
David: We have different working styles. I tend to over-analyse and Hannah can be too impulsive. This generally works well, but it’s a high-wire balancing act with the potential for plenty of tension. Working together also means that we are spending much more time in each other’s company than most people spend with their partners, so problems can become magnified. We have both learned that sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward.
Hannah: Impulsive! That’s not true. I just want to get things done and figure you’ve got to start somewhere so just get on and do it…..um, yes…we do have wildly differing styles. As our house is where we live and work as well as bring up the kids it can lead to some surreal moments. One time D followed me to the shower to argue about something and I had to point out that CEOs don’t normally have to put up with their staff berating them over some slight whilst naked, washing shampoo out of their eyes.
What are the best bits?
David: The events themselves. It takes a lot of preparation to put them on and a lot of contingency planning to make sure we can deal with the unexpected. So the best bit is definitely standing in a room full of very happy people with the music in full flow, bubbles and confetti wafting around and the knowledge that my children are also having a lovely time.
Hannah: I agree completely. It’s lovely having a dance together.
Could you ever imagine working with anyone else?
David: Yes, I could. In fact when we started out, I imagined working with someone else quite regularly! We had a lot of fun, but finding our way in a new business, lack of money and the sheer hard work of having young children could create a pressure-cooker atmosphere. But now I spend much less time imagining working with someone else and more time working on Round About Wine.
Hannah: *cries with laughter* All. The. Time. I’ve “sacked” him more times than I can remember but in reality I’m terrified about his new wine business starting up and him not being available to BFLF 24/7.
What about the other person makes them perfect to work with?
David: “Perfect”? Well, this is awkward…
Hannah: Yeah, I don’t think either of us would describe each other as the perfect work colleague – but he is the only colleague I can hand over our tantruming children to and ask to deal while I get on with emails. Which makes him better than 100% of all former work colleagues.
What are your favourite traits in each other?
David: Hannah’s persistence.
Hannah: Sense of humour. D darling – is my “persistence” really your favourite trait? Could I not have blazing intelligence, kindness and taste in music?
David: Hannah’s persistence.
Hannah: He’s not a completer finisher and it drives me crazy.
Do you find it hard to switch off and keep your work/life balance?
David: Actually no. When I was working full-time the other side of London in quite a high pressure role and barely seeing my children from Sunday night until Saturday morning, that was hard. It was difficult putting work to the back of my mind and enjoying family life. Now I find it very easy to switch between the two because I’m very practised at it. I’m working on a spreadsheet, then calming down a shouty child, then answering an email, then handing out rice cakes, then discussing a work emergency with Hannah, all within ten minutes.
Hannah: yes and no. BFLF is so much of what I love doing in life – music, family, socialising – that the fact I almost never turn off isn’t a problem because it’s so enjoyable. I never dread going into work.
And last but not least – who wears the trousers?!
David: Big Fish Little Fish is overwhelmingly the result of Hannah’s vision, drive, intelligence and attention to detail. So she is absolutely in charge. She wears the trousers, the leopard-print jacket, the Pat Butcher earrings, the blue hair, everything. I just lurk in the background and do what I can. It works well that way.
Hannah: I don’t approve of outmoded terms regarding gender roles. Smash the patriarchy!