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The story of us.

by Joni Paynter May 08, 2018

A few weeks back someone asked me how Rick and I met, I shrugged the question and said something simple like “we met in college.” While that is true, its definitely not the whole truth. Our story wasn’t a fairytale and to be honest, until lately I was a little embarrassed to share our story. 

Rick and I were both servers in college and we worked together at Logan’s Roadhouse. As a matter of a fact, our first encounter was at the salad station, where I snatched the ladle of ranch from him. Because in the restaurant business, most folks tend to hang out in groups outside of work given the nature of getting off work at 11PM, we began being in the same places at the same times. We had both just gotten out of some rocky relationships and I found comfort in talking with someone who seemed to be in the same stage of life as me. Slowly, we began to hang out more by ourselves and really got to know one another. We clicked. 

Fast forward a few short months and we decided it would be a great idea to get a puppy together. The puppy would live with Rick at his apartment, but it would be our first step into our “more serious” relationship. We had just gotten home from a white water kayaking trip and headed to pick up our new dachshund, Addy.  Little did we know that the week we brought our puppy home, we would find out we were going to be much more than puppy parents. I WAS PREGNANT! Rick still talks about the moment I came out of the bathroom and the look on my face. Scared was an understatement. Life changing was even an understatement. 

How were we supposed to support a baby, when we were still kids ourselves and literally working for peanuts at Logan’s! My first doctors appointment was at the University clinic in Lexington and the doctor was very clear in the fact that I “had options for the baby.” That wasn’t what I wanted to hear, I want an adult to stand next to me and tell me it was all going to be okay, that we could make it, that we life would be alright again regardless of how scary it was at the moment. I even had one of our regulars at work offer to “pay to get rid of the problem.” I was definitely scared and had no clue how life was going to come together, but that “problem” turned out to be my greatest blessing. She is the one that saved me! 

Through the support of family and friends, we slowly got excited. Rick got a job at a tire store, because it was 2009 and a college degree didn’t mean a good job was waiting with the great recession and I kept working at the restaurant until Cal was born. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to stay home with Callie. Rick moved up in his career and everything seemed to be working out perfectly. Callie was a little over a year old when we finally decided to get married. Of course, I didn’t want it to be a shotgun wedding. I wanted it to be real and lasting and even though things did not come in the order I had dreamed, I still wanted to be sure that saying I do meant I do forever. 

Just a few weeks before our wedding Rick surprised me when he came home early from work. He had that same look I had been sporting walking out of the bathroom with the pregnancy test a few years back. Rick had lost his job when the company downsized. Here we are again, what do we do? We had just gotten to a point where life seemed okay. I know we still had so much to be thankful for, but in the moment the bad can be so overwhelming. We had a child to feed, a mortgage, and bills to pay. It all seemed to weigh so heavy on us. During that first year of marriage (ya know the honey moon phase) we stood in unemployment lines, fought with his company regarding insurance, and missed mortgage payments all while desperately seeking any job that would have us. Rick and I both buried our pride and sulked back into Logan’s Roadhouse to get back our serving jobs in hopes to pay our bills. Ramen noodles became the norm. Ricked worked days, I worked nights. Rick scoured the internet for jobs and kept Callie at nighttime. To cap off that first year, we found out the foundation of our first home was cracked in need of very expensive repairs (not covered by insurance) and Rick’s car completely quit and needed a $3,000 repair. It was not a honeymoon, that’s absolutely for sure.

One day, we got a phone call from a friend of a friend that needed a website and for some reason they thought Rick knew how to do it. He had no clue what he was doing, but said sure I will build a website without hesitation. So, we went to Books-a-million and purchased every book they had on web design and coding. He sat in front of the computer every night after Cal went to bed and taught himself HTML, CSS, Javascript, and any piece of coding knowledge he could find. Another person approached him to design a website, then another, then another, all on word of mouth that he was a hard worker, fairly priced for small business, and a decent guy...which at the time was rare in the web design business. We freelanced for a year and half.  Finally after nearly 2 years, he finally got a secure job in marketing with insurance, benefits, and a future.

That time was definitely the hardest time in our relationship, but now I look back at it and don’t know if we would have made it if we would have had it easy. Going through the rough instead of over and around it made us resilient and gave us perspective of what really matters at the end of the day. I think it plays a huge role in us running the business together. We have always worked together since we were serving tables and it is really all we know. It is also how we built trust in one another and that is probably what led to us feeling adventurous enough to quit a very secure job one week after our Lucy was born in February 2015, and start printing shirts in a garage in Georgetown, Kentucky. 

Our story isn’t pretty…or a fairy tale. It is ugly and full of bruises, but with every hardship, we learned lessons that have led to taking steps forward and becoming wiser.  It is our story and honestly, I am just thankful to have done it all together!




Joni Paynter
Joni Paynter

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