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“Partnering” by Jean Oelwang

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February 8, 2024

Karis and Aayush, a community partnership

Partners & cofounders of Social Stories Club

We have been dating for six years, but not everyone knows!

How did your partnership start?

We met on our very first day of university. I was 18 years old, and Aayush was 17 years old. We didn’t really click until we both got placements for an exchange year in Canada in our 3rd year of University.

In our final year of University, we had the enormous pressure of finding a graduate job. Aayush had been rejected numerous times despite being one of the top of the class. I rejected the idea of a boring graduate job instead wanting to start a social enterprise.

We were talking about our options in the kitchen on day, and I told him I was going to start this amazing, colourful, social enterprise that was going to help people all over the world. His eyes lit up with excitement, and with no prior thought I asked if he wanted to join me. He immediately said yes. We have never looked back.

What do you respect and value most about each other?

I feel so incredibly lucky to work with Aayush, there is nothing he won’t do with 100% enthusiasm and effort. I value Aayush’s kindness in business, he is always very honest and fair and understanding when things don’t go to plan. When things don’t go to plan Aayush is a strategist and problem solver, he thrives in chaos and loves fixing what is broken. I also admire how he finds the really boring parts of the business (such as spread sheets) fascinating- thank goodness I don’t have to do them! He is such a hard worker and never ever gave in when the times got tough. His resilience is inspiring and his ability to get the work of three people done just by him is admirable.

I value Karis’ creativity and vision, she came up with the idea for social stories club and together we made it happen. She always has new and exciting ideas, plans or directions we can go in. I admire her ability to boost morale on the team, I can hear everyone laughing in the warehouse from upstairs in the office and I’ll later find out she was sharing one of her hilarious stories. She keeps everyone motivated and makes them excited to come into work each day, which is amazing considering it’s a warehouse role and can be a bit chilly. Karis is also great at storytelling through marketing and has helped us grow our sales. I love it when she guest speaks and tells people the story of how we started and got through challenges. I can see how she captivates a room and everyone feels so inspired, it makes me feel so proud.

How has your partnership improved your life or given you a greater sense of fulfilling your purpose?

We couldn’t have done Social Stories Club without each other, we kept each other going when times got tough, and there have been many tough times and still are. Social Stories Club has given us an enormous sense of purpose and to do this together has been so special.

What is a key high point you remember in your partnership with one another?

Winning £65k at Scottish Edge. It was an amazing moment as we had just worked 10 hours in the warehouse and were leaving our team alone for the first time. We were wearing old warehouse gear while everyone else was dressed up all fancy so we felt a bit out of place. But when our names were called it was an incredible moment, we felt like others believed in us.

What is the toughest challenge, or low point, you experienced in your partnership, and how did you overcome that?

There have been so many low points for us. It was particularly tough at the beginning when we would spend £40 on a market stall only to stand out in the cold all day trying to chat with people about social enterprise only to sell nothing. We just never gave in. When one of us was really low, the other picked them up.

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