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Fab Couples

Briana and Jerome Smallwood | Married three years

Briana Smallwood, co-owner and business administration of Vivian’s Soul Food; support operations manager of Newsela Inc. 

Jerome Smallwood, owner and executive chef of Vivian’s Soul Food

How did your love story begin? Jerome: We worked together in 2009. I knew she’d be my wife, but it took a year of us running into each other at events and parties before she let me take her out. The rest is history. We had our first daughter in 2011 and have been each other’s riders ever since.

Favorite thing about one another: Jerome: I have a lot of favorite things about Bri, but my top favorite is that no matter how bad a situation is or how down we are, she always finds the positive and lifts everyone around her up. She’s special with that. The world could be ending, and she’ll make you feel grateful and positive.

Briana: My favorite thing about Jerome is his level of dedication to things he’s passionate about. Once he makes a decision, he doesn’t let up. Also, his curiosity. When something is interesting to him, he’ll seek out as much information on it as possible, and is never scared to ask questions, go to the source, etc. He also is the one person who listens to all of my ideas, and he never tells me the reasons something won’t work; instead, he keeps on me and motivates me to pursue things he knows I’m passionate about. I am very much a dreamer and have big ambitions. A lot of people don’t understand that, he does. I love that about him. 

Favorite date night: Jerome: I love to find new or underrated restaurants and try them out with her. My real favorite date night, though, is when we’re traveling together. Exploring and making memories no one else can tell the stories of, except us. Briana: My favorite date nights are when we get dressed up for each other and pretend like we’re not parents for the night ;). Our world is busy, so normally when we call the babysitter, it is for formal events we’re attending. I like when it’s just the two of us spontaneously and intentionally enjoying each other. 

Favorite tradition you have as a couple: Jerome: Hosting barbecues! We’re a good team at hosting people at our house. Everyone eats good, drinks well and has a good time. I call her my sous chef. Briana: Weird tradition, but true. We tour million-dollar-plus homes when they’re listed here and in surrounding towns. It’s fun; we walk through and day dream about what we would do with the space, come up with narratives of the history of the property, etc. 

What does your happily ever after look like? Jerome: My happily ever after with my wife would be for us to own vacation property and be able to travel at will. Being business owners, we can’t just up and leave. One day, I want to be able to say, “Baby, you wanna hit the mountains?” And head to the airport so we can go to our cabin, just like that.

Briana: I agree. Continued growth, more life, all of the peace. I’m simple; I don’t require a lot. Moving with a little more ease, bringing others up with us, and paving the way for our children and future generations is what we’re on a mission to do. 

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