By Elizabeth Rahe
Marriage is filled with joys and challenges. The same can be said of running a business. For couples who share both, life would seem to be doubly challenging. However, several local couples appear to juggle the two ventures quite successfully. They even find time for some Valentine’s Day fun – which may be one key to their harmonious enterprises.
Clay Conley & Averill Mackin Conley
buccan and Imoto restaurants, Palm Beach
Brickhouse Public Relations, West Palm Beach
e’s chef/owner of buccan and Imoto restaurants in Palm Beach. She handles public relations for the eateries and serves as executive vice president/partner of Brickhouse Public Relations.Their complementary talents have served them – and their enterprises – quite well. Critics have praised the big flavors dished on small plates at the casual-yet-cosmopolitan buccan and the Asian-inspired Imoto.
Clay and Averill met at Florida State University in 1993. “It was really love at first sight, but I had another boyfriend at the time,” Averill says. They started dating after she graduated and ended up in Las Vegas to open the Bellagio – he was a sous chef for Todd English at Olives Las Vegas; she opened VIP Services. Eventually, on Oct. 6, 2001, they would marry at the Bellagio. Fast-track careers also took them to Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Boston before they settled in South Florida.
Life still moves faster than a Valentine’s Day dinner rush for this dynamic couple. However, they did take time in September for a Jamaican escape and in December to celebrate their daughter, Micaela’s, first birthday.
What are the joys and challenges of working together? Sometimes it’s the only time we see each other. I know Clay so well I can predict his answers and choices pretty accurately, so we’re an efficient team. The challenges are what you’d expect – keeping any personal issues separate from the work environment.
How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Well, I don’t think we’ve ever been able to spend one actual Valentine’s Day together – it’s a very busy night in the business. We’ll probably go out to dinner the Monday before. Now that we have a baby, ‘date night’ takes on a whole new meaning.
What has been your favorite getaway? The Jamaica Inn [in Ocho Rios, Jamaica] last September. It was the first vacation we have ever taken where we didn’t really do anything. We napped, read, lounged, napped, played backgammon and cards, napped, swam. Normally our vacations are go, go, go. This was the exact opposite, and it was amazing. We bonded and relaxed.
Ed & Tracey Dikes
Weston Jewelers, Weston
he romance of Ed and Tracey Dikes began on a singles mission to Israel – without Tracey. Two of her girlfriends set her up on a blind date with this guy they met on the journey. A little more than a year later, on Nov. 7, 1992, Ed and Tracey were married at Turnberry Isle resort in Miami.
“We’ve been partners in life for 20 years and partners in business for 11,” Tracey says.
The business is Weston Jewelers, but they say their greatest collaboration is “two amazing teens,” Danni, 17, and Jesse, 16.
What’s the secret to your marriage and business partnership? I think it works because we truly enjoy spending time together. Ed has an amazing sense of humor, and we are constantly sharing moments of uncontrollable laughter. Like all couples we have shared the good and the bad, and when I went through some tough health issues, he was my rock.
Our kids are our No.1 priority. When we opened Weston Jewelers, we agreed that I would work during the day but be home for the kids after school and take them to their activities. Ed’s behind the counter six days a week and balances work with rowing at 5:30 a.m. and competing both locally and nationally.
We are fortunate that our immediate families live close, and we spend a lot of time together. We also share the same core values and believe in the importance of helping others in need. We are both Leos and, of course, we do disagree at times, but it never lasts very long because Ed will crack a joke, and then it’s forgotten.
How do you sneak away? When we travel for business, we try to grab an extra few days to just get in the car and drive. We get lost a lot – neither of us has a great sense of direction – but it’s always a fun adventure.
How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day? We always exchange cards and little gifts, and after work we will go out to Zuma at the Epic Hotel in Miami for dinner.
Ave & Zola Keller
Zola Keller, Fort Lauderdale
he family joke is that Fort Lauderdale fashion icon Zola Keller found her husband, Ave, in the Yellow Pages.
In 1971 Zola was a single mother selling crocheted bikinis of her own design. When she wanted to buy yarn at wholesale, she looked in the Yellow Pages and found Yarns Galore, owned by the Keller family. She met Ave Keller, and within two weeks they had formed a business partnership. Romance followed, and on Christmas Day 1974 – when his stores were closed – they married and blended their families – her daughter, Terri (now a Fort Lauderdale registered nurse), and his daughter, Sivon (a Fort Lauderdale veterinary technician). Three years later, Zola wanted to get back into fashion.
“We opened Zola Keller Retail in a small part of a store I had near our house,” Ave says. “At the time our son, Michael, was 1 year old, and Zola would take him to her store and put him in a playpen.” (Michael is now a New York City-based journalist and author).
In 1985 they opened the Las Olas Boulevard shop, where Zola has made her name dressing red-carpet divas, pageant queens, gala partiers and bridal parties.
What’s the secret to your marriage and business partnership? We clearly defined our responsibilities. Zola is the people person, the face of Zola Keller boutique, doing interviews, fashion shows and being active in charity events. With her acute sense of fashion, she does all the buying, in-house manufacturing and sales. At home Zola was the face of the Keller family, active in the Girl Scouts and other activities with the kids.
I do all the behind-the-scenes work in the business, managing the advertising and marketing, budgeting, product and business direction. The first three years of our marriage I more or less just showed up at home due to growing my business. When Zola decided to go back to work, I played more of a role at home, driving the kids to activities and helping around the house.
How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Four days in Manhattan, a room with a great view, great food and a few plays.
Gregory von Hausch
& Bonnie Leigh Adams
Fort Lauderdale International
heir story could be a chick flick: Picture Fort Lauderdale, circa 1994. A film-festival CEO notices a blonde with a winning smile who is more interested in movies than in the festival’s free food and parties, so he hires her. After a few months, they begin dating on the sly, hiding their relationship from the board of directors. Their love of the silver screen grows into a love for each other. Eventually (Dec. 8, 2001), they marry on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Key West, with Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival Chairman Emeritus Ginny Miller officiating.
But first, a nuptial plan snafu.
“A few weeks before, our wedding location had fallen through,” says Bonnie Leigh Adams, FLIFF senior program director. “At the 11th hour we drove down to Key West on Thanksgiving and spent the weekend looking for the perfect spot. Our dogs had to tag along since the boarding places were full.”
Fast forward 11 years, FLIFF President & CEO Gregory von Hausch and Adams are still watching movies and running festivals as they watch their daughter, 9-year-old Soleil, refine her taste in film.
What’s the secret to your marriage and collaboration in FLIFF? He works upstairs; I work downstairs. I thank God and Ginny Miller. Ginny said something in our vows that I always remember. She said that marriage is similar to a ball that has to stay in the air. It should be 50-50, but sometimes one may be going through a tough time, so the other has to try harder to keep it in the air. Each spouse has to be willing to pull the extra weight when it’s needed.
How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day? We would like to take our daughter out with a marine science center to tag a shark and name it Valentine.
A favorite Valentine memory? A wonderful family memory was staging a play for our daughter’s class based on the book Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell. Greg wrote the play, and the students acted in it.