Siblings in Business: Local Notables Who Work Together
Photos by TJ Turner
Danny, Thomas, and Charlie Broder: Broders’ Italian Restaurants
Practically swaddled in spaghetti, the Broder boys grew up immersed in their parents’ Italian-food businesses, Broders’ Cucina Italiana and Broders’ Pasta Bar. The brothers rounded out the trifecta of south Minneapolis restaurants by launching Terzo Vino Bar in 2013. Eldest brother Thomas (center) heads up the team as executive chef, while Charlie (right) does the same with the front of house. And Danny, the youngest, pops into the kitchen for special events.
Growing Up Gourmet
Danny: 90 percent of our conversations were about the business.
Charlie: Or food. We’re always analyzing what we’re eating while thinking about the next meal we’re going to have.
Charlie: It can be hard to separate business from family or boss from mother or employee from son. But my mother is the guiding force, managing everything we do at Broders’.
Danny: She continues to be the main inspiration behind the food as well. She’s so Italian at heart.
Thomas: She built a company from the ground up while raising a family. We opened a wine bar. It’s a big difference. We don’t walk in here on any given day and take that for granted.
Charlie: Danny is a ball of joy and energy that’s unmatched. He has extremely high-quality knowledge of the food and such talent and technique.
Thomas: Charlie creates such a great rapport with the customer, which is a gift I don’t have. To make them feel welcome and make them feel like they’re
in our home—I couldn’t ask for more.
Charlie: Without Thomas, Broders’ would probably not exist. I think he’s the cornerstone of what Broders’ is. He’s the captain of the ship.
Charlie: We were strongly discouraged from going into the food industry, actually. I really enjoyed the way we were brought up, knowing that the food industry wasn’t necessarily a direction we had to take. But I know that my children will be really, really well-fed, and it’s hard to take it out of your blood sometimes.
Aparna and Ashwini Ramaswamy: Ragamala Dance Company
Twin Cities–based Ragamala Dance Company is in its 23rd season, with the mother-daughter duo of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy (left) performing and serving as co-artistic directors. Aparna’s sister, Ashwini, six years her junior, also dances with the internationally lauded Indian-dance troupe and serves as the group’s marketing director.
Two Different People
Aparna: When we were children, we didn’t actually play together or spend time together in a close sibling way. I would take care of Ashwini and watch over her—we’re very different people, and when we were kids, we were completely different.
Ashwini: I didn’t want todo what she was doing. I wanted to do my own thing.
Two Different Paths
Ashwini: She’s always been completely focused on our dancing, and I’ve been open to more experiences.
Aparna: For me, it was all about school and dance. She did singing and painting—she didn’t always understand my focus and my choices.
Ashwini: On days when we don’t see each other, we call to get together.
Aparna: We tour and travel together—we’re roommates on the road, and we love that.
Ashwini: She’s taught me how important it is to work hard and focus. I’d like to teach her to relax.
Aparna: Yes, to lighten up—in a good way.
Ashwini: She’s always taken care of me.
Aparna: When she was little, she would always call out my name first any time she would fall.
Kenny and Danny King: King Brothers Clothiers
Twin brothers Kenny (left) and Danny King are the snappiest of sartorials in the Twin Cities. As co-founders of King Brothers Clothiers, they’re bringing custom-made clothing back to the mainstream by helping clients create a personalized look with bespoke patterns and unique fabrics.
A New Old Generation
Kenny: Both of our grandpas were very dapper dressers, but our dad was in the business-casual generation. The idea of dressing up again is very now, very much our generation. We say people are trying to dress like their grandpa did.
Danny: Our biggest challenge is overcoming people’s mindset that to wear custom clothing, you have to be in a corner office with a little Italian man coming to measure you—but it’s really not out of reach for a lot of guys.
Kenny: Clothing was kind of the thing that, as twins, defined us. I was always in red, and Danny was always in blue so that people could tell who was who. We shared everything—a room, a car. Clothing was the one thing we had that was totally separate.
Danny: I think clothes meant more to us than just a style or name brand because people really noticed what we were wearing so they could tell us apart.
Competing in Style
Kenny: We used to play this game where we’d go to a department store and pick out the craziest, ugliest shirt we could find, and then we had to find a tie to go with it. Our mom or someone in the store would have to be the judge for whose outfit looked better.
Danny: Not really a typical pastime for 9th- or 10th-grade boys.
Farzan and Sam Navab: Navab Brothers Oriental Rug Company
Farzan (left) and Sam Navab came to the United States from their native Iran in the 1970s. After studies in filmmaking and hotel and restaurant management, respectively, they went into business together in the late 1980s at Navab Brothers Oriental Rug Company in St. Louis Park.
Sam: As the older brother, I always felt like I had to look out for him. I protected him at school and all that stuff until we were adults, and I left Iran earlier than he did. The business brought us back together. I was doing my thing and he was doing his thing, but this business brought back our childhood relationship in a different environment and different roles.
Far: That relationship has maintained itself, but three years [age difference] isn’t that important. I think we divide duties and things here equally as much as we can—but I don’t think he would agree with that.
Sam: I wouldn’t.
Intuition and Instinct
Sam: We have unspoken rules, if you will. The duties we take on aren’t written—and it’s sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes fantastic.
Far: There’s a lot of intuition involved. The dynamic is settled early on in childhood, and you rely a lot on your instincts, and those unspoken laws. If you do see things alike and think alike and if you have similar experiences—you can work better.
Far: We push each other’s buttons all the time.
Sam: One of the good things about working with a brother is that grudges are not held and are quickly and fairly dispensed with. We have had so many arguments and fights. I have beaten the heck out of this guy when we were kids, but regardless, he knows I love him.
Far: It sounds like an Italian-American family!
Teresa and Ashlie O’Day: Proper & Prim Boutiques
The daughter of a boutique owner, Teresa O’Day (left) opened Proper & Prim in Fargo in 2010. Her younger sister, Ashlie, followed suit with a Twin Cities outpost of the modern, budget-savvy boutique last spring.
Teresa: When we were little, we would play "store" all the time or set up a lemonade stand or make crafts and set up a little booth. There were lots of things for sale in the neighborhood from us.
On Their Own
Ashlie: I think people are surprised to find out we’re independent owners and don’t have some secret investor.
Teresa: Somebody once was shocked when they found out I opened the store with my own finances—she was surprised my daddy hadn’t bought it for me.
Who’s the Boss?
Ashlie: I was a bossy little kid, so you see that come out—on buying trips, I’ll drag Teresa around to all the vendors.
Teresa: But then I’ll look in the corner during a meeting, and Ashlie will be texting with a fistful of candy.
Ashlie: I’ll get all excited because they’ve got M&Ms!
Teresa: That’s when I’ll snap my fingers at her.