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University Place


Myspace and Mac and Cheese


When Ejay met Lindsay, she was more interested in the Mac and Cheese she was eating than meeting her future husband. “Luckily, there was this thing called MySpace at the time,” says Ejay.”So I found her on MySpace and hit her up on a little DM. I was like, ‘Hey, met you at the party. Here's my phone number. We should hang out.’”

Ejay shares his story of taking his love of creating graffiti art with his friends and becoming the Vice President of He shares his story about the people who inspired him and how he works to make the world better at home, at work, and in his community.

“I think people start off thinking that they want to change the world. It's such a broad--that's a huge task to do. I think people need to change their mindset and focus on their community first, helping their neighbors.”

What happens when you meet your neighbors? How can we increase the feeling of connection between members of our community and their neighbors? Over the past few months we here at Windermere Professional Partners have set out to answer those questions. Based on recommendations from our REALTORS® we set out with a camera crew to speak to our neighbors from the heart about what it means to be a neighbor, to live life fully, and to connect with our community.

Want to see more of Ejay (and that adorable Quincy!?) Check out the Behind the Scenes!

Produced by Gabriel Ng

- We're the O'Donnell family. This is my wife Lindsay, my daughter Quincy, and my name is Ejay. We live in University Place, Washington. Been here for about two years. Prior to that, lived in Tacoma since 1987. So I've been here my whole life. And I love it. Love this community. It's super awesome. Got good friends, literally they live a rock throw away, super happy to be in this neighborhood. My professional career, I'm vice president of, which is a online sticker company. But prior to that, I've been a longtime graffiti artist and designer. This is actually kind of a funny story, because friends of mine where like, "You gotta come to this party. There's this girl there you'll really like." I was 21, she was 19. I was literally in bed. No joke. And they're just like, "No. You have to come." I'm like, "I don't want to come. I don't want to get up." They're like, "No. You have to show up." Finally showed, up and I walked in, and not a joke, I was like "yep, that is her." And so I introduced myself and all she wanted was macaroni and cheese. She literally--I was like, "Hi, I'm Ejay." And she was like, "I'm hungry and I want some mac and cheese" and literally walked away. So, from that point on it caught my attention, and luckily--

- 'Cause I really loved mac and cheese.

- You really wanted mac and cheese. Luckily, there was this thing called MySpace at the time, so I found her on MySpace and hit her up on a little DM. I was like, "Hey, met you at the party. Here's my phone number. We should hang out." And she responded and we hung out literally a couple days later.

- We've come so far, we've come so far, really. But yeah, that was just--I mean, back then, especially being 19 and 21, I can't really imagine it happening much differently back then.

- So we dated from... What was it? July 16th is when we met in 2006. I proposed like 5 years on the dot, so whatever that-- 2011, and then we got married in 2012. We went to the fair that year, and we took the little photo strip camera pictures, and we have one from every single year, all the way through. So we have this progression of 19 and 21, tan and rowdy kids. And then fast forward a few years, it's like calming down. It's like "Oh, we're engaged." And then the next one's like baby bump, the one's we're married, and then all of the sudden she starts popping up into 'em. So, it's cool we get to storyboard our life on little five-panel pictures from the fair, which is pretty cool.

- My friend Travis, his uncle was Cheese, who painted the first graffiti piece in the underworld. So, if anybody knows what the underworld is, he deemed it the underworld 'cause he painted the first piece down there. Him and I have known each other since kindergarten. Sixth grade, he showed me a sketchbook of graffiti, and I was like, "I wanna do that." So that's literally what it took, my friend just opening up a book and saying, "This is what I do, do you wanna do it, too?" And I was like, "Yeah, that looks sweet." It's just endless possibilities with graffiti. So you take this basic letter, say an A, and you get to flip it. I get to create it into a lens of whatever-- or, through my lens I get to create this A and make it look however I want. And then you start adding 3D or drop shadows or multicolor or making it so wild style that you can't even read it. It just opened my brain up for some reason, at that time. And so, I don't know, it was just the letters drew my attention. There's just a misconception of it because there's this-- if you know the history of hip-hop and how far it goes back-- graffiti was meant to just catch attention for people. One of the first guys, Cornbread, he literally put his name around everywhere in New York to get the attention of a girl. That's what it was for, and that's kind of what was the evolution of it, it started there. You can take your name and design it into whatever that you want. And then you gotta put it at scale, and so the only place you can find it on scale is on the side of buildings or on subway trains or on railroad trains. And so we always viewed it as an art form. We knew it was illegal, but we weren't into any gang-affiliated stuff. We stayed away from all the trouble as much as we could. But, you're still painting on other people's property. And so I understood that that was wrong, but we still wanted to do it. We just want to write our name on everything, 'cause it was super fun.

- Well, I started doing my sign business about six months after Quincy was born. I just needed some kind of creative outlet. When you become a mom, you get so engulfed in trying to be a mom that you kind of-- kind of the same situation that Ejay talked about, you forget about yourself. So I just started doing it for fun for myself and then people were like, "Oh, I'll buy that from you." I was like, "Oh, okay." And so I just kind of kept doing it here and there, so I've been doing it for about three years now. I primarily just sell on Facebook, Instagram, just via social media. But it's great, it's a great way for me just to relax and to have my own down time to do what I need to do during the day. And for myself to be creative, too. I've realized that's a really important balancing role for me, is to have something to do creatively. So I never would've thought that starting to do this when I was older would be something that I enjoyed so much. But I do, I love getting out and getting dirty and cutting wood and staining and painting. It's been inspiring, too, having someone as a spouse who's so creative. It helps me to be creative in my own way, as well. So, he helps me a lot.

- Daniel Diedrick started DieCutStickers back in 2002 when he was just leaving a different company. He acquired this website and got a plotter and did all the things. So he was creating stickers a few years prior to me even meeting him. And so then when I came in just to help, I got really excited about it because A, it was designing, which was really fun, but I think it was just the environment of being there, hanging out with him in the office and we're making stickers, listening to music. It just became fun, so the more that we put into it, the more business kept rolling in. My dad was one of the hardest-working people I know and still is to this day, just won employee of the year for the Tacoma police department animal control because he just works super hard and does a really good job. My mom's the most sincere, nice, happy, positive person. So I think I kind of became this blend of them. And they always told me it's okay to ask for help, and if someone offers to help, it's okay, just make sure to remember that and pay it forward however you can. And so when someone offered to help me, I would never forget that because they helped me get to that next level. Travis was that first person, because he showed me graffiti. Jason was the next person 'cause he taught me how to be an early leader of teaching kids on how to do things and be a role model. Daniel, for the opportunity to actually help build a business with him. Obviously, my wife and child, they're so inspiring to me to where it's like I have to be my best self in order to take care of them, too. And if I can help share what I've learned from all these people along the way, then I feel like if I made an impact on somebody, that's super important. That's what it's about, that's your legacy. It's how you treat people and what you give. That's what creates such a strong community, is always willing to give without receiving anything in return. And that's what's most important. So all these people along the way that I've met, that helped me, never expected anything in return from me. Even though I will always try to repay them in some capacity. But I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for them. I think people start off thinking that they want to change the world. It's such a broad--that's a huge task to do. I think people need to change their mindset and focus on their community first, helping their neighbors. Well actually, first off, start in their home. Try to create a good space for your home and then you can expand out to your neighbors and then a little bit out into your community. And you can--it's the ripple effect, you know? You don't need to go so big so quick, 'cause it's really hard to make an impact that way. So start with small things. Just start small. Open the door for somebody. That's also giving back, too, just being a good-- one thing you can--I've always been a firm believer is one thing you can control. You can't necessarily control your circumstances, but you can control your attitude. And by having a positive attitude you're making influence on that person's life. You don't necessarily have to give a tangible thing, but you can give a smile. And that's a simple first step on being able to give back to the community. And also being a good neighbor, going and saying hi. Who are your neighbors? Because if their house is on fire, I should probably know who they are. You know what I mean? Everyone has their own story. I don't know where you grew up, or what journey you did to get to this point, so I just have a very open mind and perspective of I have no clue who they are, I just know who they are right now. Everyone is unique, so you just have to listen to their story, what skillsets are, what journey they had, 'cause you can learn from them, too. So if you soak that up it gives that little bit more perspective so that next conversation you have, you have a little bit more knowledge that maybe you can share with that person. You just have to stop and listen. And so I don't care who they are, what they've done, what their journey is up until that point. They may need me right then, right there. I'm there. I'll stop what I'm doing because it's important to listen. 'Cause those people were there for me when I needed them, so I'm just essentially mimicking what others did for me that I can do for others when they need it. So that's kind of how I see it. As long as I have a roof, clothes, and my family, I'm good. It's so simple, so if I strip away all the surface stuff and just put us in a tent, I'm still gonna be just as happy because that's really, at the core, what matters to me versus anything else. If you wanna be a part of the community, you have to be a good neighbor. It's kind of one of those "if you want to have good friends, you have to be a good friend" mentality. So you have to be willing to go to them first, because at some point you're gonna need to call upon them and that friendship. And it happens over and over, and again, it's without expectation. I'm just here for you because you asked. Yeah, I can help you load that up or take this or whatever. I'll give you a hard time. But to be a good neighbor, it's really just open-door policy, obviously. How can we make this community so strong? I think it's such a cool place to grow up if you're part of a really good neighborhood. It doesn't matter where, what neighborhood it is. It doesn't matter who they are, where they came from. Just be nice, just be a good human being.