During the promotional cycle for 2017’s The Dark Tower, Idris Elba declared that he was through with marriage altogether, and would remain a bachelor for the rest of his life. Just two years later, however, the burgeoning mogul found himself walking the aisle again with model and philanthropist Sabrina Dhowre Elba.
This blast of matrimonial whiplash forced Elba to rethink his entire outlook on partnerships in general. If his views on the institution of marriage were more in flux than he’d realized, well, could there be other kinds of relationships where his attitudes should evolve? Getting to the bottom of that question was a major part of what led the Elbas to go into business together with S’able Labs, a new initiative that explores what it means to be in a partnership—and provides a community for anyone else trying to figure it out.
“We really did model ourselves on the Goops and the Honest’s of the world,” Idris Elba says. “These really incredible marketplace communities, which basically offer another way to look after yourself and put number one forward. But with S’able, we’re trying to find a way to do the same sort of structure, but offer it for partnerships.”
As Sabrina Elba recalled during a panel at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, the idea for this venture came out of a series of talks between the newlyweds and a variety of other people. “We just found ourselves having all these really great, engaging conversations,” she said. “Kind of helping in one way to facilitate the relationship we had at the time, because we were going through stuff as a new couple, but in other ways, we found that we were helping friends of ours or family members.”
Once lockdown began in 2020, and relationships around the world became a lot more complicated, the Elbas approached these conversations with newfound urgency. They started talking with friends on Instagram Live so that anyone with a phone could follow along. They didn’t realize it at the time, but Idris and Sabrina Elba were creating the prototype for the content arm of their new venture: a podcast called Coupledom.
The show finds the Elbas chatting with another couple about relationship dynamics—and wherever the topic leads them. The guest roster isn’t limited to romantic partners, though. Sometimes the guests are business duos such as Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s. Other times, they’re business friends, like top-tier fashion designer Christian Louboutin and pop musician Mika. The Elbas even welcomes familial business partners such as Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian. The variety is wide, but the common denominator is a fascinating story and essential insights into the nature of partnership.
It took some time, however, before observers realized that the couple at the center of Coupledom were seeking that hard-earned wisdom not just on the listener’s behalf. “Some people had this misconception in the early stages that we were coming to give marital advice or give you ‘how to do it better than anyone else,'” Sabrina Elba said. “I was like, let’s just shut that down. Because we learn every day. We are newlyweds, we just got in the game, and we’re doing this kind of selfishly to be inspired and educate ourselves.”
With the podcast launched, the couple is now focused on the future of S’able Labs. Idris Elba sees potential in entering the wellness space, creating content for television, and even perhaps opening a business school one day for anyone launching new ventures with a romantic partner, friend, or family member.
Up next, however, is the couple’s skincare line: S’able Labs’ first foray into the wellness space. How does self-care figure into the concept of partnership?
As Sabrina Elba put it, “When I feel good, we feel good, generally. And vice versa.”