June 26, 2019
Neighbor Spotlight - Meet Ejay From University Place
What happens when you meet your neighbors? This question is at the heart of our Meet the Neighbors video series. With thousands of people moving to Pierce County in just the past few years (Tacoma is the “hottest housing market” in the country right now), it can be easy to start to get lost in the numbers.
We asked tour agents to help us get to know our neighbors, and we started by asking our real estate agents a simple question: Who do you know who is making a difference in their community?
David Shipley has lived in Tacoma for over 30 years, and he feels lucky to have met so many exceptional people along the way. Someone who really stuck out to him was Ejay, in part because Ejay reached out to David not long after David started his real estate business: “He was just so inspiring—he told me some of his own story,” shared David. “I hadn’t talked to him in about 10+ years, and it was kind of a chance [to reconnect].”
David and Ejay knew each other from high school, partially because both of their moms worked at the University of Puget Sound. When David thinks back to what he thought of Ejay during high school, he only has good things to recall: “What a positive dude,” says David. “I couldn’t believe that someone could be so positive, be so uplifting, have such a good attitude about life and how to go after it.”
When high school was over they both lost touch, but in a couple of years they both happened to be working at Anthony’s at Point Defiance. “He was just leaving and I was just getting there. And he was saying that he was going to start this sticker company, and I didn’t think it was going to work. I was like, what kind of margins can you make on stickers? I was like, he’ll be back here in 6 months. And here, he built this crazy company.”
Ejay went on to build DieCutStickers.com. Once they reconnected, David and Ejay would encourage each other and cheer each other on as they each built and invested in their businesses. To David, Ejay’s story of his passion for graffiti and how he learned his artistic skills is an inspiring one, and he hopes that other people can learn from it: “I’d like [younger people] to know that no matter what you’re passionate about, what you’re doing, or what the world says, [you can] still continue to do it and maybe there’s a way to do it [for a living].”
But David also knows that Ejay is so much more than just a successful business owner: “I knew he took great pride in not only being a good homeowner, but also in being a good neighbor, too.”
Ejay shared with David how he and Lindsay looked at over 100 homes until they found the one they wanted to remodel, and then they invested so much time, patience, and care into creating the space that they truly wanted to call “home.”
“There’s a couple of sayings in real estate,” shares David, “And one is that when you first go look at a house you have to look at it like an investment, and then it becomes a house. You look at how you’re going to live in it, is my bed going to fit in here, things like that. Then you make it a home and you paint it, you put your personal touches [into it].”
Ejay and Lindsay truly transformed their property into a home, and it’s a reflection of the care, love, and hard work that they put into everything in their lives.
Tacoma Run Club
One day, Ejay invited David to come along on a run, so Ejay, his brother-in-law, and David all went for a run. It wasn’t long before they were consistently meeting up to run with each other. “One night,” says David, “Ejay got super excited and he sends me and his brother-in-law a text that says he got inspired and made a logo, and then all of a sudden we had a logo!”
The group would share their plans to meetup and run on Instagram, and they’d invite people to come and join them. “What we find is the run is good,” observes David. “It’s a great way to start your day. But we all meet at Anthem Coffee afterwards and sit down and talk, and that’s where you really get to [know each other]. People say that [for many adults, our friend groups get smaller], but we’re growing ours.”
The Tacoma Run Club gets about 12 to 15 people to show up each week, and it’s always different and positive experience no matter how fast you run. David also adds that “We have a few young women who come out and run. They like that it’s a safe place to run, and there are other people who care about their safety and well-being.”
You can read more about the Tacoma Run Club here!
Behind the Scenes
David went to Ejay’s Meet the Neighbors video shoot to see the behind the scenes action, and he had a chance to see everything that went into creating the Meet the Neighbors video series.
“Marguerite is a very good interviewer,” shared David. “She asks really articulate, artful questions, which was great for me to see—I was early in my real estate career, and part of what we do in our jobs is asking good questions to our clients.”
David also loved being able to watch the filming process, with Gabe (our brilliant cinematographer) going back and forth between all of his screens and watching him work the drone. “Little did I know that [Ejay] actually knew who Gabe was,” said David. It turns out that Ejay had made Gabe stickers for his business a long time ago, and they really hit it off as they had the opportunity to work on the series together. Gabe recently had Ejay as a guest on his podcast “The Omcast”—you can tune in here!
David was a big advocate for the Meet the Neighbors series, and his support is just one piece of the puzzle: “I think that it’s important that we put a voice and face to our clients and the people that we work with on a daily basis. We can all say that we’re great at real estate—I advocate strongly for my client and all of those things, but saying that we’re community experts and we’re involved in our community and we do things to make sure that our community is better and is a good place—it lets people know that we aren’t in it for a sale—we’re in it to create a relationship for the rest of your life and to make sure that you know that we’re just not here for 30 days or 60 days or however long it takes you to close on your home—we’re here in the 253 community.”
Where Are They Now?
At the time of filming, Ejay was the Vice President of DieCutStickers.com. It’s already been a year since we met with Ejay and his family to get to know him better, and a lot has changed since then!
“We welcomed our second baby girl, Holland James,” Ejay shared, “[and] my run club (Tacoma Run Club) has taken off and we are doing weekly runs and welcoming a lot of new members. I recently resigned from my job in Tukwila to be closer to my family/community. I now work at Imperial Motion Clothing Co. in Tacoma, and have a short commute, only 18 minutes from my house... where I was driving 90 minutes each way beforehand. Feels incredible to be able to be IN Tacoma every day being able to influence the community I live in. I have a lot more things in the works to continue to support the Tacoma community.”
Ejay also shared with us how much he loved seeing the other videos in Meet the Neighbors: “It was really awesome to showcase incredible people in our community and I really loved hearing everyone's story, what they are doing and how they got there. There was real value in those stories, because they are REAL. I think this should be a yearly series. Constantly showing the community members is really cool. I had a chance to visit Krista Linden and what an incredible human being! If I did not do this, I would not of had the exposure to her and what she is doing—so that was so amazing to be able to meet her and see what I can do to support their cause.”
“I was very honored to be nominated for this,” adds Ejay. “[It] really helped me reflect on a lot of past experiences but also really bring to light what was most important to me.”