top of page

What Business Collaborations are Really About

Today I’m going to chat to you about one of the most important things for a small business: collaborations.

As a relatively new business, I’m always looking to grow my visibility, and I know that one of the best ways of doing this is through successful collaborations. Collaborations can open my business up to a new audience who are already favourably disposed towards products or services that complement mine. This audience most likely already trusts the business I’m collaborating with, and thanks to the collaboration, some of that trust will be transferred to my business too. Naturally the same is true for the business I’m collaborating with.

I used to think that virtually the only vital ingredient for a good collaboration was to have complementary services or products. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes of course the products or services have to work together. As a handmade jewellery maker, collaborating with a keyboard manufacturer isn’t likely to be a brilliant idea. But there are other things that are vital ingredients too. Here are the three things that I think a good collaboration absolutely needs.

Aligned values

Let’s say I’m looking for a shop to display my jewellery. Perhaps they stock other accessories such as handbags and scarves. The style of the products is similar to mine, so their other products don’t compete, and work well with my jewellery. I’m happy so far, and start digging deeper.

I look at the prices of their other items. Straight away I can tell that they are cheaply sourced, which means that they are unlikely to be handmade. And if they are handmade, that’s even worse, because the people who made them most likely aren’t being paid a fair wage. At that price, sustainability is unlikely to have figured into the equation. Based on all these things, Halo’s charitable ethic probably won’t appeal to the shop either and their customer base is likely to be different from Halo’s.

They are just as likely to reject me as I am to reject them. Although our products are visually a good fit, our values don’t align. It doesn’t mean that there’s no room for both businesses; it just means that the two businesses are unlikely to succeed as a collaboration.

Mutual Trust

You know those movie stars who neither respect nor trust each other off screen, but convincingly play lovers onscreen and even manage to snag an Oscar or two? I’m not like that. Leaving aside my zero thespian skills, I have no desire to work with someone that I don’t trust or can’t respect.

In corporate environments, we have little choice – but in an environment where I have a choice of who I collaborate with, I see no reason to choose someone who I can’t trust. I would constantly be looking over my shoulder, and being relatively new to business and business collaborations, I wouldn’t even know what to look out for. That makes being able to trust my collaborator even more important.

Mutual Benefit

A collaboration is ultimately a business arrangement, whether money exchanges hands or not. So a collaboration isn’t a collaboration if it only works to the advantage of one side.

Take a blogger, for instance. I had a few bloggers featuring my products in their gift guides over the Christmas period. Halo got some publicity, and the bloggers received some beautifully handmade jewellery in exchange – this was perhaps the main incentive for them. The bloggers also had things they could add to their gift guides that made them more attractive to their readership, thereby increasing loyalty. So it was a win-win situation.

Without this kind of mutual benefit, it’s not a collaboration – it’s one side gaining an unfair advantage over the other. Like any uneven relationship, this is likely to lead to discontentment and over time the relationship will fall apart.

And Finally…

I have only two collaborations right now. The first is with the wonderful personal stylist Kelly Caira from House of Colour. I’ve done a blog post about her, and you can read it by clicking on this link.

Kelly was quick to spot the potential for collaboration with me, which I would have missed if it hadn’t been for her. And although Kelly has a service-based business and mine is product based, ultimately, we are both trying to help our clients be the best version of themselves.

And if we want to talk about trust, I gave my daughter a style session with Kelly as a birthday present (which, by the way, she absolutely loved). Why would I ever send my own daughter to someone I didn’t trust?

Look at Kelly in these photographs. Always professional, always elegant, and yet - never boring. Incidentally, i.n the photo above, Kelly is wearing the Interlocking Hearts Necklace. As of now, it's one of Halo's bestsellers

The second collaboration is more recent. It’s with another new small business, Match Hampers. They have a unique take on hampers, where the contents aren’t traditional food and beverage items, but can be toys, jewellery, and a host of other things. The other unique thing is that the containers don’t have to be wicker baskets. They can be tote bags, shopper bags, washbags and a whole lot more, so the container is as useful as the contents, making the business more sustainable. The photo below shows a Mother's Day hamper which is also a washbag.

I met Hannah from Match Hampers at a networking session and liked her immediately. She came across as calm, efficient and reliable, so I reached out to her and asked if she wanted to collaborate. Luckily, she liked Halo’s products, and understands its why as well as the constraints of a handmade product business. I’m hoping we’ll work well together. If you want to check out Hannah’s website, click here.

I’m looking forward to both these collaborations getting stronger with time, and perhaps collaborating with a couple of other businesses too. But I’m in no rush. These things take time, and I’d rather go slowly and get it right, than rush headlong into collaborations that may eventually end in tears.

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page