When Best Friends Make the Best Business Partners
Sliding into a stranger's social media DM isn't usually a successful endeavor, but for these two BFFs turned creative partners—everything seems to be working out just fine.
Most people mindlessly scroll through their social media feeds out of sheer habit, not expecting much to come out of it. But what happens when you accidentally stumble across another kindred spirit and instantly realize you’re perfectly in sync? According to the twosome behind grassroots creative agency Kollektiv49, you take it one step further than merely following each other — you go into business together. We talked to Ava Carstens and Daniel Wesche about how they met, how they got @kollektiv49 up and running, and what it’s really like being best friends with (strictly business) benefits.
What is Kollektiv49?
Kollektiv49: It’s an agency that features a creative network platform and a blog, comprised of two leads and a roster of freelancers. We tailor online digital activations and offline analog experiences to provide real moments and encounters between brands and their target audiences.
You’re best friends that have built a budding business together… How did you two meet?
Ava: We found each other through Instagram and it was ‘click’ at first sight! I liked one of Daniel’s comments under a mutual friend’s post, so I scrolled through his profile and I enjoyed the overall look of his feed. Plus, his bio mentioned that he was an art director based in Hamburg, which was perfect because I was looking for a creative sparring partner, so I wrote him a DM. That’s how our story began… Everything felt good right from the start.
What are the biggest benefits of best friends working together?
Kollektiv49: Familiarity! Workflow, process, and communication is much easier if you know each other well. Every new client or project means spending a lot of time together, so you automatically put more heart and effort into your work when you feel surrounded by a positive and warm atmosphere. We’re so grateful for our friendship and the teamwork that has come out of it.
And what are the common challenges?
Kollektiv49: If the workload is high, the friendship often has to be placed on the back burner — private chats become shorter, and business discussions become longer. As such, you have to take care to be really sensitive and respectful with one other during the stressful periods.
You’re quite successful, having worked with adidas, Zalando, Toyota, Samsung, and many other top brands in the past. Who are some of your dream clients for future collaborations?
Ava: I’d like to work with more sustainable brands, NGO projects, and anything dealing with the music industry — launches, bookings, events, concerts, etc…
Daniel: I can’t name a single dream client — I love the diversity. For me, the perfect mix for our client roster lies within different industries: Market leaders, local heroes, medium-sized businesses, and innovative start-ups.
How do you advertise your business products and services?
Kollektiv49: Word-of-mouth, mostly. Also through our Instagram, website, newsletters, events, and through the social media channels of the brands and companies we work with.
Where do you find inspiration for your campaigns and activations? How does it work when you two aren’t on the same page?
Kollektiv49: This might sound cheesy, but it’s true — we’re inspired by everyday life. We always keep each other updated on what we’re thinking, and if one of us feels over-inspired by a potential concept, we’ll hop on the phone to talk it through and exchange ideas.
What advice can you give friends looking to go into business together?
Kollektiv49: 1 — Always have a detailed vision. 2 — Keeping a calm mind is helpful. 3 — Trust in your personal-professional relationship.