Finding a good work-life balance can be hard for even the best of couples. Now imagine running a business with your significant other. For some couples, like Kushal ’10 and Bhavika Patel ’10, this work-life blend is their dream come true.
The Patels opened their small, thriving pharmacy in downtown Chicago, Illinois five years ago, but their story as a couple began several years before at the University of Findlay.
“We met in fall 2005 during orientation before school even started,” said Bhavika. Both being transfer students from other institutions, they immediately had something in common and bonded quickly. She moved from Cincinnati, Ohio and he moved from Memphis, Tennessee. They both loved the small town feel and how their pharmacy class seemed so tight knit.
In fact, it was that close group of Findlay friends that helped bring them together many times for study groups, solidifying their feelings for each other and leading to a very memorable first date. “This is the most frequently told story to our friends at house parties,” said Kushal. “It was late on a Sunday night, about 9 p.m., and we headed to Olive Garden for our first date dinner. We got to the restaurant and quickly realized they were closed, so on the way back to my apartment we drove through the Taco Bell drive-thru and brought our dinner back to my apartment.”
This fast-thinking, fast food first date didn’t deter them, however. They continued dating and studied together almost daily. Being so far away from home, both Bhavika and Kushal said the many activities on campus helped keep homesickness at bay.
As students, one of their favorite things to do was to hang out at the Alumni Memorial Student Union (AMU). Whether it was studying, meeting up there after an exam or selling baked goods with the pharmacy student organization, the AMU became their second home on campus. “Once there was an artist on campus that made cartoon sketches in the AMU and we had a sketch of us done together. It’s still framed in our home today,” Bhavika remembered.
Their friendship is what helped them succeed, even when life got hard. Bhavika remembers a particular time when Kushal came to her rescue. “I had a death in my family in the second year of pharmacy school, and I was not always mentally present in classes. At a time like this, Kushal came through like a true friend and encouraged me to study and try harder for the sake of my parents and not to give up just yet.”
Prior to their graduation and walking back through the Arch in 2010, Kushal decided it was time to ask Bhavika to walk down the aisle. Both were placed on rotation at pharmacy hubsites in Cincinnati, Ohio in the spring of 2010, but they still lived in Findlay. On their drive home Bhavika saw a hot air balloon and asked Kushal to pull over. She had never seen one in person and was curious. They sat in the car and watched the burner inflate the balloon. It was then that Bhavika noticed the pilot walking over to their car. “I thought he would ask us to leave so that his passengers could enjoy their flight in privacy, but instead he knocked on my window and asked if I was Bhavika. I couldn’t understand what was going on,” she recalls. Kushal had planned the balloon ride for one special purpose. Once they were up, she noticed the sun was setting, and all they could see was green fields for miles. “It was beautiful. It was then, at 1,500 feet near Cincinnati, that Kushal purposed, and, of course, I said yes!”
The couple moved to Florida and were married in 2011. After living in Florida for a year they decided to move to Chicago, Illinois and opened Well Future Pharmacy together on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.
“The first day we opened Well Future Pharmacy will always be a favorite moment in our lives,” said Kushal. “We may have only filled one prescription that day, but we worked hard to get where we are today together, and the struggle to get here has made us appreciate our accomplishments.” Now in their fifth year of business, this entrepreneurial couple works together to offer a unique level of personalization to their customers. “Free deliveries started when we first opened and still are. We know our customers by name and they know us. They take comfort in the fact that we know and care for them personally and not just as a number,” Bhavika said.
Now over 10-years since they first met in college that strong bond solidified as students still holds firm in this idyllic work-life blend.
What’s their secret for success?
“Kushal is very patient and I am very persistent. He has what I lack and vice versa. We support each other in everything we do and it has worked for us in our relationship as well as our business. This makes us perfect for each other. We thank UF for giving us the chance to find each other,” said Bhavika.