Building a Healthy Business Partnership

A Conversation with the Women Behind Papinelle

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Renae James, Founder, CEO and Designer of Papinelle
Renae James, Founder, CEO and Designer of Papinelle

Two is better than one, but relationships aren’t always easy — especially business relationships. Chemistry is key, and thankfully, business partners Renae James and Nicole Kelly have plenty of that. Together, the duo runs Australian sleepwear and lifestyle brand Papinelle. With beautiful products designed to enhance your downtime, their brand is swiftly becoming a household name. 

I recently sat down with Nicole and Renae to discuss their entrepreneurial journey and the secret to their relationship success. Here’s what they had to share with the Thrive Global community. 

What’s the inspiration behind Papinelle Sleepwear?

Renae: Papinelle aims to create beautiful products designed to enhance your downtime. We are inspired by thoughtful, natural fabrics, beautiful French-flavoured prints and making everyone’s time at home more comfortable and relaxing. 

What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Renae: Do it because you love it and be persistent! We love what we do, and this makes us really good at it. Persistence is what keeps you going through the ups and the downs. We have a clear vision and a burning desire to get there, and that persistence has been the key to our success.

Nicole: Make sure you are creating something that the market actually needs, then have your own point of difference. It’s not an easy road but if you are passionate about it and are prepared to work hard, you will succeed if you have the end customer in mind.

How did you know that your personalities were going to work well within a partnership?

Renae: Nicki and I met back in 2004 at a trade show in New York and quickly became friends. We shared a very similar passion and positive outlook. Nicki at the time was living in the US with her own successful sleepwear brand, and I was building Papinelle from Australia. 

We started working together on a different project back then that designed private label sleepwear for other companies. Our chemistry was amazing and we went through a rollercoaster of ups and downs and gained an enormous amount of trust in each other through that business venture. 12 years later, when Nicki and her family moved back to New Zealand, we just knew the time was right for her to join Papinelle.

What advice do you have for other business partners?

Nicole: Our partnership works well as we both have different skillsets and respect what each other brings to the table. If we were both in the same lane trying to compete we would be stepping on each other’s toes and end up getting nowhere.

Nicole Kelly, Co-Owner of Papinelle Sleepwear
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