ohne’s co-founders, Leah and Nikki, have been best friends for ten years. Between one or both of them almost always living abroad, they’re pretty used to making the whole bff-thing work long-term, but even they’ve found the lockdown separation difficult. If you’re missing your bff, you’re not alone. At ohne hq, we’ve all heard their founder story before, but in honour of National BFF Day earlier this month, we thought we’d get them to tell us all about about their friendship outside of ohne and see if they’ve got any tips and tricks for those of us who are new to being far away from our best friends.
Nikki: The longest we’ve ever gone without seeing each other was, what, six months?
Leah: yeah, when you were in South Africa we didn’t see each other for ages, but it can’t have been more than six months. I’ve definitely missed you more now during the pandemic.
Nikki: YES YES YES. This is definitely the longest we’ve gone without seeing each other since before we started ohne.
Leah: so we lived together for all three years of uni – we met because we were placed into rooms next to each other in halls – but literally every holiday without fail she’d completely vanish for the entire summer or Christmas and we’d go months without seeing each other. Her parents always lived abroad so she’d go to live wherever they were.
Nikki: It would literally go from 100% of our time together to exactly 0 – we didn’t even go on a trip together til we went on a girls’ trip to France after uni because I’d never be around when we had time off…
Leah: no we did go on a trip! The uni ski trip in third year we went on even though none of us could ski haha
Nikki: and then after uni, you were the one who left!
Leah: yeah I did abandon you for Bali!
Nikki: she can’t get rid of me though – I’d literally go to where she was living in Bali and stay for months at a time. She had a full house of flatmates, so we weren’t living together then, but I’d be just down the road.
Leah: some of our best memories are from Bali. We’d always end up on spontaneous adventures – we’re always like that when we’re together. It’ll always be like “f*ck it, Niks, let’s just do it,” and we’ll end up driving to the countryside or booking a flight to somewhere exciting. That’s probably what I miss most about Nikki when were not together – we’ll just have the most unexpected fun. Even just like a quiet walks can turn into us dancing the night away. Although also definitely miss cosy nights in watching shitty chick flicks and gossiping too!
Nikki: haha, I was gonna say the thing I miss most is our non-work date nights – it’s just not quite the same doing it over Zoom! I definitely prefer working side by side, but also know that we’re very good at being remote friends and co-founders. The most important thing is just making sure we get time together.
Leah: oh yeah, I definitely prefer side by side, but we often end up going over new ideas for hours, so working apart does have its advantages in that we get more time to zone-out-and-work!
Nikki: launching a company when you’re apart from your co-founder a lot can get a bit lonely sometimes though. It’s hard to celebrate the good moments. And then if (when) shit hits the fan, it’s way easier to deal with the catastrophe when you’re in the same room as each other.
Leah: Yeah, although we were really lucky that this whole being in different continents thing has been rare since starting ohne. Even when I was spending most of the year in Bali in 2017 and 2018, Nikki would typically be out with me in Bali or I’d be back in the UK. When we were apart the time difference was always a bit tough!
Nikki: We were probably living together or very close to each other for the first 8 months or so of coming up with ohne, and then we would do a month or two together and then a month or two apart.
Leah: Yeah, it wasn’t really until ohne was born that we actually lived, travelled, and worked together so solidly. Pre-COVID-19 we probably spend about 2/3rds of our waking time together! We are pretty good at being apart though – we’re always talking for work and we make sure we make time to have non-work related catch ups too!
Nikki: and we’re both part of the same friendship group so we’re always talking on group video chats and we have a very entertaining group chat. I also love sending Leah embarrassing pics of us – I’m literally always sending her some cringey picture of us at uni!
Leah: We have a Zoom breakfast set up with all our girlfriends – just a 20 minute chat one morning before work and it’s so lovely! Even though we’re running a business together, I still chat with Nikki about non-work stuff more than I do with any of my other friends, so the chat frequency just increased when we have work chats too.
Nikki: also send your best friends post! It’s such a cute way of staying in touch (especially if Zooms feel too much like work haha). I painted a postcard for Leah and even though I might have forgotten to actually send it to her, it’s the thought that counts!
Leah: Being away from your best friend is so hard. I remember the day that we dropped Nikki off at the airport for her to fly back to South Africa after we’d been living together for three and a half years. We literally spent ALL of our time together – we were totally inseparable at uni. Me and two other friends dropped Nikki off at the airport and there was drama as usual (Niks tried to check in and accidentally threw a condom at the lady checking her in, and then had to buy an outbound flight as they wouldn’t let her fly with a one way ticket) but after she finally left on the plane I was distraught and I cried for HOURS. I remember so clearly driving back to my parents house that night and Mum not saying anything, just cuddling me and handing me a large gin and tonic.