Stephen and Ashlyn Celebrate the Gift of Working Together!
Written by Heather Pluard
Always ready for a challenge, power couple Ashlyn and Stephen Gift didn’t let COVID derail their plans for a March 2020 wedding. Instead, they made it an intimate, family-only event, held it in a backyard on Lake Norman, and laughed at a few surprises that made the day even more memorable.
“In the middle of the ceremony, two of my brothers came back out in hazmat suits to help serve food,” Stephen smiles. “And Ashlyn’s dad put on a Willie Nelson wig during the Father/Daughter Dance as he was the artist for their song. So, long story short, the wedding was perfect!”
Their ability to roll with the punches and focus on the end goal is part of what makes this duo so dynamic. Both from Charlotte, Stephen is a REALTOR® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, and Ashlyn is a Mortgage Originator at American Security Mortgage. Although they both attended UNC-Wilmington, they didn’t officially meet until a Band of Oz concert at Romare Bearden Park in Uptown Charlotte in 2016.
“We were both attending with our parents,” Ashlyn says. “Luckily, our parents have mutual friends and were all sitting together. My mom convinced me to ‘go talk to the cute guy over there,’ so I did! We seemed to have a lot in common and decided to hang out again. I played volleyball in college, and Stephen kept trying to recruit me for his sand volleyball league, but I told him I’d rather go to dinner instead.”
In 2018, Ashlyn and Stephen were a committed couple and had jobs they liked. But they were both ready for a change. So, she pursued a tip from her cousin and joined Team Lending by Design. Last year was Ashlyn’s first full year as a loan originator, and she closed out 2021 with $60-million in loan volume. With the encouragement of two close REALTOR® friends, Stephen followed his dream of becoming an agent, and after receiving his license in September 2018, he started real estate full time. Today, he has a career volume of just over $33 million.
Although they didn’t plan to work together and only do so now for friends and family, the couple says there are many benefits of having a partner in the real estate industry. “It’s great because we often bounce ideas off each other and talk through unique situations,” Ashlyn says. “We love the flexibility, often being able to work from anywhere and at any time of the day. The only downside is that we work 24/7. If there is any secret to work-life balance, we are dying to know!”
“We understand when one of us has to sneak away and make a phone call or knock out some time-sensitive work,” Stephen says. “So while we both worked on our Honeymoon, it wasn’t something we stressed about. We are both still in the grind phase, trying to accomplish as much as we can while we don’t have a ton of commitments, and all while knowing that we will need to find more balance in the future – knowing the state of our industry can change quickly.”
While they are looking forward to growing their family, the Gifts are presently content to raise their six-month-old Boykin Spaniel named Darla. They also enjoy spending time with their many nieces and nephews all up and down the East Coast. But most of all, Stephen and Ashlyn primarily love to spend time with each other, visiting beaches, riding their beach cruisers, driving to new spots, and exploring.
“Sitting at home by our fire with a simple meal and a glass of wine is also very nice,” Ashlyn smiles. “Life is utterly insane some days, and without each other, we could never make it through. Stephen and I balance each other out mentally and emotionally. There will be ups and downs in this industry, but as long as we focus on helping our customers the best we can, our futures will be bright.”
Stephen agrees. “It’s all about your clients being able to trust you and be sure to invest in the relationships that you create along the way,” he says. “Our dream is to be the ‘go-to’ experts for friends, family, and past clients. And our biggest strength is Ashlyn. She is a person everyone can rely on, and she is the reason everything works so well.”
Clients are thrilled working with them both and often say how smooth and seamless their real estate and loan process was at the end. “It has taken a village to get us to where we are, and we have a lot of people to thank, including Team LBD’s fearless leaders, Erin and Christina, and my teammates, Allie and Alix,” Ashlyn says. “We are also grateful to have the support and understanding of our families as we build our businesses. Success is being happy. If you are not happy, you will never be fulfilled no matter how much money you make. So find what makes you happy, and make sure you incorporate that thing into your life as often as possible.”