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How We Met

How We Met: Serial Entrepreneurship And Travel Are At The Center Of This Couple's Love Story

How We Metis a series where xoNecole talks about love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.

Oftentimes, people say love and business don't mix, but this couple is one another's yin and yang in a journey to live their best life and achieve financial freedom through entrepreneurship. James and Deanna Robinson connected on ambition, confidence, and go-getter initiative from the very start. Both serial entrepreneurs have seen success in their respective fields and have even partnered up for joint ventures where each brings their unique strengths to the table.


"I can bring the deal to the table," James said.

"And I’m the closer," Deanna added.

"I’m not the type to send out the emails and things like that. She’s on top of that part. When we’re out, she’s quiet. I’ll be there networking. I feel like that’s where I’m strong," James continued.

"We almost missed the interview today," Deanna added with a laugh. "I gotta be in the field," James said.

Deanna launched FabBody Fitness more than a decade ago, empowering a lucrative market via her Maryland-based women's-only gym. The founder of the FabBody Retreat now works as a health and wellness advocate with corporate and private clients. James got skin in the game as a chef and went on to launch three of his own KitchenCray restaurants. He also recently launched Technology Partners LLC, which offers construction, demolition, IT, and other related services. Beyond their individual ventures, they're also real estate investors and own a black car service.

The couple, who met in 2013 and wed in 2017, shared how they manage running multiple businesses while still keeping the fire alive in their marriage, the challenges they've faced as balancing love, businesses, and parenting, and why they're the ideal partners in ventures and in life.

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Serial entrepreneurs James and Deanna Robinson share why they're the ideal partners in ventures and in life.

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How We Met

Deanna: I used to do these client appreciation pool parties. We actually met at one of my pool parties. His company was doing a sponsorship of some of the food items. This is when I had my gym, so it was for all my personal training clients.

James: The thing that attracted me was that she had her own business, she was doing something so I could learn from her. And I thought she looked good.

Deanna: I had known about him before we met. At that time he didn’t have any restaurants. He was doing catering and pop-up events. What attracted me to him was that he was a businessman and that he was very ambitious and that I could learn from him as well.

First Date

Deanna: It was to this French restaurant called La Diplomat in D.C. The most memorable thing about that date to me was we ordered a dish called foie gras and I wasn’t a foodie then. Quite different to now. I had no idea with foie gras was, but I was still open to trying stuff. I tried it and hated it. Now, I actually really like it. That always sticks out to me, when we sit down at a restaurant now to order it, we think about that first date when I had that with him and I despised it. After that, it was one of the things I admired about him as well is that he opened up my palette for food.

James: I didn’t know she didn’t like it. I didn’t know if she was a foodie or not. I’ve been a chef for 21 years, always into food so I just took her somewhere I know nobody was taking her. That stuck out to me—that she wasn’t a foodie.

Deanna: [Laughs] I was into oxtail and curry goat.

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"The thing that attracted me was that she had her own business, she was doing something so I could learn from her," James explained.

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The One

Deanna: What sticks out to me is we started really dating in September–the pool party was that August—and that’s always a rough time around the holidays because you just never know, like, ‘Are we gifting each other?’ or ‘What level of gift should we do?’ I had decided I was not going to get him a gift. I always felt like in relationships I was always the one doing too much.

The first time I decided not to do too much, was the time he decided to give me a gift. I felt horrible because he got me a really cute gift. It was, like, some perfume, or something. I didn’t get him anything. That’s when I knew. I had actually scaled myself back from being the kind person I was when all along I should’ve just continued to do what I do and the right person would accept it and it would be reciprocated.

James: I probably got it just by listening to her. She’s a real family-[oriented] person and holidays are important to them.

Deanna: His love language is acts of service and mine is quality time.

Favorite Way To Spend Quality Time

Deanna: We like to plan trips so that we have something to look forward to, so even when one or both of us are really busy, we know that in the next few weeks, we’re going to this place and it’s just going to be us. And it’s even better when we plan a long haul trip to a totally different time zone so that means when we’re up and doing stuff, everybody else might be sleep, so we won’t be on our phones or people won’t be calling as much for business. So really travel has been one of the ways we can kind of do the work-life balance.

Travel’s definitely one [way to keep the spark alive], and I think, going out to eat— trying new foods.

James: And we’ve got the baby. When we go places, we’re trying to call her on FaceTime. I remember when we went to Italy and our friend had a baby and we were so annoyed, like, ‘She keeps talking about the baby,’ and now we do that. [Laughs]. You’ve got that little 2-year-old baby that you love, so that’s one of the hardest parts, too, with entrepreneurship and us working. We’re not depending on a steady [9-to-5] check. We have to create something to go out and get, and we’re spending time away from the wife and your kid, and they want their own individual time as well. Building a family is not easy.

"We’re not depending on a steady check. We have to create something to go out and get, and we’re spending time away from the wife and your kid, and they want their own individual time as well. Building a family is not easy."
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"We like to plan trips so that we have something to look forward to," Deanna shared about the couple's love for travel.

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Overcoming Challenges As Married Entrepreneurs

Deanna: It's about making sure we prioritize that quality time. As a business owner, especially when your business is still in the growth stages, it’s important that we’re both grinding—especially for him. He’s got businesses in different states and events in other countries. He’s got to travel a lot. So it’s really important for us—and really tough for us—to make sure we’re carving out that time for family and making sure that we are spending quality time.

Even just being present is not always necessarily quality time—trying to stay off our phones when we have business on our phones and we need to answer that text message and send this invoice. So that’s been a challenge. It’s something we have gotten better at.

James: I like to make money and live a certain lifestyle now, and I have to be the one speaking the truth, like ‘Hey, you want this quality time, but we’ve got bills to pay.’ So, we have to figure [out] what’s going to work. If we’re going to live like this, one of us is going to have to be out in the field working and putting stuff together—building stuff up. I’m not saying we’re going to be doing that forever, but at least we gotta build a foundation, and make sure things are in place and systems are in place that work. That doesn’t happen overnight.

I feel like the older you get, more things start to change. In the beginning you can have one vision and later you can have another vision. Or 10 years later you might [say], I’m done. So, you just gotta learn and grow, because nobody’s going to stay the same every year. You have to communicate and be vocal and let the person know, ‘These are my goals, too.’

The more you stay together, the more you have to communicate and [talk about] the direction.

Favorite Traits

Deanna: He has a great sense of humor and I really like his swag. It’s a confidence. Even just his fashion sense—it’s very different and he doesn’t care what other people think about it. Of course, his ambition goes into that swag-iness as well.

James: I wish I had that way [of how] she’s close with her family. She's [very caring]. She grew up with her parents and around love. I didn’t. I’m learning from her to really be a super family-loving person. I’m not the same person I was when I met her.

I [grew up] in foster care. My grandmother took me in. I grew up in shelters. She didn’t have to go through all that stuff. I can be like ‘Forget this. I’m done. On to the next,’ but she has that trait where she can be patient and understanding. One of the things I learned is giving people the benefit of the doubt. I used to cut people off. … As I grew, I learned to give more benefit of the doubt to people. That trait of hers rubbed off on me and made me a better person.

For more information on Deanna and James Robinson and their businesses, follow their respective pages on Instagram @deannarobinsonfit and @kitchencray.

Featured image courtesy

 

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