Laura Udall noticed that her young daughter suffered back pain from lugging her books back and forth to school. Udall decided to develop and market a backpack light enough for children to wear safely.
She founded her own company in 2003 and hired an industrial design firm. But after growing frustrated with a lack of progress, she turned to her husband, Nick. “He is brilliant at coming up with things, so he went into the garage and came up with our first prototype for a rolling book bag,” she said.
Today, Udall, 52, is chief executive of Züca Inc., a $2 million business in Campbell, Calif., that makes luggage. Her husband works for her as vice president for design and manufacturing.
“The buck really stops at me,” she said.
Udall’s situation may be somewhat unusual, but it is hardly unique.
At a time when high-profile women have suffered some setbacks on Wall Street and when women in general still struggle for pay parity, a group of entrepreneurs has proved that women are comfortable not only with running their own companies, but also with having their husbands work for them.
In addition to finding ways to work together at home, the couples have created a separate balance of power in their business relationship. And though it may help that both partners do this to enrich a family enterprise, the woman may make a conscious effort to ensure that her mate is getting appropriate recognition.
Photo by Jim Wilson.
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