How to Work with Family and Not Drive Each Other Nuts

Pandora - Teonna

Teonna Flipping and DeLora Jones Blake have the exact same smile, a smile that (no hyperbole here) can light up an entire office. We should know. They’re both InStyle employees. In addition to working at the magazine (Teonna is the magazine’s operations coordinator and DeLora is the magazine’s chief of reporters), they’re also cousins.

At work, the cousins are all business. As operations coordinator, Teonna is busy working with new hires, supporting our executive managing editor, and taking care of the day-to-day ongoings of the magazine. DeLora spends her days managing InStyle’s research department, assigning stories and supervising fact-checking.

So what’s it like having your big cuz just a few feet away from you all day, everyday? Do they ever break for family fun?

“You have to maintain a professional working relationship in the office, while privately supporting one another behind the scenes,” DeLora tells us. “We are paid to perform to the best of our abilities. The fact that we are related is always secondary.”

Here, we talk fashion and family dynamic.

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You both work at InStyle – presumably you’re both IN … STYLE! What is something you’ve taught each other about style?

Teonna: When it comes to style, I have a laundry list of D’s advice— Like, “Just because it zips, doesn’t mean it fits.” Or, "When you get older, you’ll stop buying fabrics that require ironing.” "Every woman should own a pearl necklace …”

DeLora: Teonna is younger and likes designer sneakers, so I pay more attention now to sneaker styles than I used to. I’m learning to accept that sneakers, in a creative workplace like ours, are acceptable. She prefers minimalist clothes and darker colors. I like bright colors and prints and wearing jewelry, so when I wear a blouse or dress with clean lines, it reminds me of her style.

Pandora - Teonna

So, which one of you is the “mother” in the relationship?

Teonna: Hands down DeLora, the mother to all …

DeLora: Definitely me. I’m bossy, as I grew up the youngest of four brothers, so I had to stand my ground, but that upbringing, along with strict parents, helped me become more fearless. My mothering ability comes out when I mentor college interns, talk to my son or to Teonna. Whether she asks for it or not is irrelevant to me. If I think she needs to hear it, then I’m going to say it. Plus, me being bossy is simply, well, one of my gifts.

What is your number one tip for not driving each other crazy considering how much time you're together?

Teonna: Do not live together and work together!

DeLora: Don't wear each other's clothing!

Scenario. Your work wife is having a horrible day at work. Do you give her advice or send her to your cousin? Who’s better at giving advice?

Teonna: We are both Capricorns—realistic and practical. You better believe we'll give you THE best advice, whether you want it or not.

DeLora: I am the best at giving advice. I’ve lived longer, I’m smarter, prettier, and have more jewelry.

Well, there you have it. Wiser with more jewelry sounds good to us!

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