Tomahawk Design Company is made of a small group of fierce ladies, who happen to be best friends. We thought it’d be fun to introduce ourselves here and share a little bit about what life is like mixing business with besties.
- Jill Dombroskie | Owner & Designer
- Tara Wagner | Communications
- Raquel Ciappi | Finance
- Allison Anthony | Design Support / Events
In 5 words or less, explain what you do for Tomahawk Design Co.?
R: Pricing / Finance
J: Owner and Creative Lead
T: Communicator and Chief Snack Organizer
A: Creative Design Support & Workerbee
What led you to get involved with Tomahawk?
R: For years, late-night wine sessions with my roommate (Jill) always turned into her saying she wanted to quit her job and start her own design company. Next thing I know our late-night conversations were turning into a reality and I saw my best friend establish Tomahawk Design Co. I was so interested in everything she was doing (and wanted to hang out with my bffs) that I decided to crash a brainstorming session she had set-up with Tara and Allison. Since then I’ve been hooked and started to help out with the finances of the company as the resident math nerd.
J: I started Tomahawk as a way to ensure that both mine and my clients’ creative visions are always fulfilled—little did I know my love of Maryland would make an appearance and become such a huge part of what we do!
T: I was forced into it! Just kidding, when Jill started her new business I was excited to lend my skills to help her succeed! Coming from a background where I worked with small businesses, I knew that my experience communicating and planning for their businesses would be a valuable asset—plus, I knew it would be fun! I’m so proud of what she (and we) have accomplished over the past year and a half, and can’t wait to see where we will go over the next few years.
A: My unwavering support and sense of pride for one of my best friends starting her own business and on a personal level, reaching my ultimate life goal of turning a creative passion into a career. (Not mentioned: I also live and breathe all things MD.)
What’s your favorite quality about the teammate to your left?
R: (About Tara) Besides being the BEST snack manager in the world, she’s great at generating excitement at our meetings by bringing up new opportunities/ partnerships for us (craft shows, Baltimore in a Box, etc.). She’s always thinking ahead and making sure that we continue to plan for bigger/better (Martha Stewart Living spread here we come!)
J: (About Allison) Allison’s mind is always on the same creative brainwave as mine—we are able to bounce ideas back and forth and piggyback off each others’ to come up with the best possible solutions. We make an excellent creative team! Not to mention, she’s very punny 😉
T: (About Jill) It sounds cliche, but it’s gotta be her ambition! I’m so proud of Jill and her awesome business that she has created from scratch. She had a dream, and she made it happen! #girlboss
A: (About Raquel) Raquel brings an honesty and directness that makes her such a valuable part of any team, but especially Tomahawk. A pitfall in a lot of companies are leaders who surround themselves with “yes” people. During our (occasionally rambunctious) product brainstorming sessions, when ideas get lofty and our excitement and creativity is overflowing, Raquel level-sets us and provides her unique, creative and technical perspective without sugar-coating it — Finding someone who does that tactfully and respectfully is hard to find!
Any advice for others looking to mix friendship with business?
R: Make sure you all agree on the vision/ product of the company, and understand that it’s ok to agree to disagree.
J: Just don’t take anything too personally. Keeping your business personas and your friendship personas on two different levels is what makes it work. Otherwise, I say go for it! I love these ladies and everything they’ve helped Tomahawk achieve thus far and I would never be where I am now without them!
T: Do it, and don’t look back! Mixing business with friendship has been so fun for us – we have definitely made it work well. As long as you’re not afraid to give your opinion and speak your mind among friends, it’s a great reason to hang out, brainstorm over meals on a Tuesday night, and rally around something you are all so proud of.
A: Having all been best friends for over 12 years, I feel like if you can make it through the drama of grade school and college, you can make it through anything! Seriously though, whoever said ‘Mixing business with friendship is a bad idea’ must have had some lackluster friends. (Note: I may be slightly impartial here…or I just know how lucky we are.) We recognize, understand and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses which has not only solidified our close friendship over the years but also helped provide the foundation for the success of our business team. Just like our friendship circle, we can be so similar, so different and each bring a multitude of expertise and experience to this business. If I could give any advice, I’ll give a few “nevers”:
• Never forget why you wanted to be in business together.
• Never sweat the small stuff.
• Never lose sight of your purpose in the business and what you bring personally and professionally to the team.
Who in the group is the most likely to keep the team meeting on track?
J: Raquel, meetings would never end without her agendas
T: Raquel sets our agenda – and reminds us when we get on a tangent about all of our exciting new product and festival plans!
A: Raquel – our official agenda generator since ’14! This girl needs a gavel.
… the most fun to work a festival with?
R: Everyone! It’s great to be able to spend a large quantity of time together.
J: Any of us. But Tara brings snacks, sooo…
T: It’s most fun when we are all working together!
A: Me (ha – am I allowed say myself?) Talking to people and engaging customers is pure fun, not work.
… the biggest brainstormer?
J: Me—it’s my job, after all 🙂
T: Jill always comes prepared!
A: Jill – she’s always surprising us with something new! Her design talents makes my eyes happy.
… the designated clever pun generator?
J: Tara or Allison
T: I definitely bring the best (worst) puns.
A: Raquel – come on, Chesapeake Bay-by?! That’s just gold!
… the most likely to bring wine to the strategy session?
R: I’d say all of us
J: All of us!
T: We are all equally as likely (it’s inevitable).
A: Jill – our resident wine connoisseur
… the best salesperson / sweet-talker?
J: Allison could sell ice cream to an eskimo—it’s fabulous
T: Allison – she knows what people want, even if they don’t know it yet! And who could resist?
A: Tara – she’s swiped more credit cards in the last year than you could shake a stick at!
Have any burning questions we didn’t answer here? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll spill—maybe 😉