What does partnership mean when you work with the person you love? Australian born, Los Angeles based Danielle Foote is Brand Manager for Haydenshapes: a surfboard company built by her fiancé, Hayden Cox. Whether surfing is your thing or not, Haydenshapes makes boards that are as beautiful as they are functional, evidential in their recent collaboration with Alexander Wang. Danielle might be helping Hayden’s dreams come true but she hasn’t forgotten her own. She’s proof that you don’t need to choose between going head or heart first—and why doing both is better.

“I come from a quiet, rural part of Australia which always motivated me to see what else was out there in the world. I always imagined doing so on my own. When I started working with Hayden, I really had to consider my sense of independence and need to carve my own path in life. I’ve come into a business that he’s been building for 15 years, so it’s important for me not to lose sight of my own goals. I’m committed to building the brand, but am equally dedicated to staying challenged and motivated for myself. Seeing the person you love succeed is rewarding, but you also find reward in your own success. Being on board with Hayden has created this joint vision where we’re doing it together, and it fulfills you in a different way.

Even the smallest wins hit home. On the flip side, when something goes wrong it really hurts.

Running a business is much more emotionally challenging than I anticipated. Working for another company you’re able to let go when you leave for the day, but when it’s your own those pressures never go away. So there are challenges, but they’re always met with this real sense of gratification.

Our most creative time is in the shower, the bathroom is our meeting zone. One of us is sitting and the other one is in the shower and that’s where a lot of our big ideas come from. It’s not your most typical goal setting environment, but that’s where it happens for us. With Haydenshapes I’m more about the look and feel of the brand, while Hayden’s really about the technology, engineering and performance of the boards. We set goals around our strengths.

Working with your partner is a really good preview to marriage.

It shows you ways to maintain your identity and voice, it puts your relationship to the test and it helps you figure out how to deal with challenges. We definitely have our moments of driving each other crazy. At the office we feel like parents sometimes—we don’t want the kids to see us in a disagreement so we get in the car and drive around the block. We laugh about it. You need those times to vent and be human, it’s really healthy.


I’m really impatient by nature. I want things to happen and I want them to happen now. I only completed half a a degree because it was taking too long—in hindsight I probably should have finished it. There are a few things I’ve always wanted to achieve earlier in life, so when I’m ready for a family that can be my focus. I want to create a solid foundation with the same environment I had growing up, with a mum who was really hands on. A lot of my girlfriends share a similar drive and motivation with work, and some haven’t known when to stop. When they have, they’ve realized they may have left things too late. I’m really aware of that.

While career is important, we need to stay in touch with why we’re all here—which is family and friends.

It’s not about a choice between the two, it’s just staying aware of yourself. I’m not ready for kids just yet, but I think that’s something that will change overnight. I’m really excited for that time when it comes.

I’m a huge believer that you bring into your life whatever you project and that you create your own reality. I think we all have this huge fear of reaching too high. I like pushing the boundaries a bit and seeing what’s going on at the top, working back from there. Mistakes will happen, Hayden and I make them all day long—some bigger than others. You have to bite the bullet and roll with whatever comes your way, because you’ve only got one shot. Give it a go. Who cares if you fail. What’s the next thing?”

Danielle’s #OKREALTALK Tips

  • Don't lose sight of yourself for the sake of the ones you love.
  • Little arguments are healthy and human.
  • Work hard, but stay aware of family and friends.
  • Failure is NBD.


i. @daniellefoote

i. @haydenshapes

t. @haydenshapes

As told to Amy Woodside, April 2014