JUST MARRIED! ERIN ON DEMAND: THE YOUTUBER, BRAND STRATEGIST, AND NEWLYWED TAKES US THROUGH BUILDING A BRAND, BUILDING A HOME AND PLANNING A WEDDING... IN A PANDEMIC.
By Ayana Bryant-Weekes
No one could have imagined the year 2020 to be what we have experienced for the last 11 months, especially not the blissfully engaged couples who anxiously awaited the fate of their ceremonies with each pandemic shutdown update. After gleefully accepting the Vlog-turned-proposal of her college sweetheart, Cameron White, in 2019, the now Mrs., was no exception. Nevertheless, Erin, YouTube Brand Strategist, and creator of Erin On Demand, rolled with the punches, kept the faith and thanks to her famous Top 3 Method, support and adaptability, she was able to pull off the perfect wedding, build a brand and her dream home...all during a pandemic.
As businesswomen we possess our own intuitions, we're on top of our game, ahead of trends, and in positions to provide leading information. Going from managing your life independently to now making life decisions with, and considering someone else’s wants, needs, and ambitions can seem like a job in itself. Video storyteller, digital strategist, and newlywed, Mrs. Erin White, gives us an exclusive look into one of her most intimate moments and her unprecedented journey from budding entrepreneur to thriving business-wife.
ERIN ON: “How We Met”
Erin Winters and Cameron White met in 2011 at Detroit's Renaissance High School Snow-Coming dance. Erin laughs at her initial adolescent commitment as she explains,“I had a little boyfriend at the time." Unfortunately for Erin’s "little boyfriend" the two young loves hit it off, instantly building a strong friendship through out high school and college. It was during Erin’s senior year at Howard University that the two entered a serious dating relationship from 2015 to Cameron’s proposal in 2019.
While pursuing her B.A. of Broadcast Journalism at Howard University (where she recently participated in Meet Me On The Yard- a virtual HBCU homecoming experience sponsored by YouTube), the aspiring Broadcast Journalist experienced plenty of ups and downs during her 4 year dating relationship -even dating other people, “There were always moments throughout our journey where it felt like ‘why is he not here?’ or ‘why is she not here?' And when we would get back in touch, it was like we never missed a beat. There were really hard moments in both of our lives where we had to dig deep into our love for each other [but], in those moments where it felt like we're just better together- were the moments when I thought ‘this is something real and it’s not going anywhere'."
Both Erin and Cameron knew the importance of taking their time; “We were very diligent with our dating phase. We prepared mentally, spiritually and financially. We both knew we wanted to be married and we made sure that individually we were ready even though we wanted to be together." Erin considers those tough experiences a silver lining that changed her own perspective on love and relationships.“Once I really trusted my gut and my relationship, and assessed what [Cameron] was doing on his own, that’s when we really started to find a flow....”
"I have to know who I really am and who I’m with. I know that Cameron is a great person. He is genuine, and loves with the love of God."
If their story sounds like a match made in heaven, that’s because it is - these purpose partners are each other's yin and yang. The extroverted YouTube guru with over 200 thousand subscribers, describes her husband as an introverted extrovert that hates being on camera, but comes alive around family and people he knows.
ERIN ON: WEDDING PLANNING DURING A PANDEMIC
Simultaneously planning a wedding and building a home is already a test of human strength on its own. Add a worldwide pandemic and shutdown on top of that, and you have the perfect storm. The newly engaged couple had to think on their feet like many of us experiencing unexpected changes and major delays during the shutdown.“When [the pandemic] first hit, I didn't think it was going to affect my wedding. We thought it would only [last] a couple of weeks." Naturally, the future Mrs. felt the initial sting of delayed gratification when it came to planning one of the most important days of her life, “We had to cancel our wedding [after] hiccups with multiple venues...and there was just too much uncertainty. At first it was like UGH! This is something that I wanted for a long time." On the other hand, the dynamic duo had already began speaking on how they wanted their wedding to feel intimate despite both having large families and plenty of friends,"We were like, did we low-key speak this into our lives?!”
Most couples planning a wedding in 2020 would agree that struggling to find ways to safely and sufficiently celebrate their special day could begin to take a toll. “[Cameron and I] were sitting at dinner at 220 Merrill and he asked me one question,’So, have you decided what you want to do for the wedding yet?’ and I literally broke down crying. I just felt like everyone was asking me ‘What are we going to do?’ and we weren’t certain of anything at the time.”
After the first cancellation, there were no new plans. Like many anxious couples, the after-shocks of the shutdown practically forced them to postpone indefinitely or scale down to the essentials and have "something small", “We had gone through several variations of what something small meant; at one point we said let’s just [have our] immediate families at our house (once it’s done) and we can ‘zhuzh’ it up with a nice dinner after. That was okay, but I wanted a little something more than that; I [was] not about to wear this dress for just my mama and [his] mama!” (We feel you sis.) The dress was purchased with a White-Winter Wonderland theme in mind combining her maiden name (Winters) and his surname (White). "My dress was very va-va-voom and I [questioned]; should I have picked this dress? Is this too much for the environment?”
Needless to say, the dress (and the wedding) was perfect. The couple exchanged vows they wrote themselves in a 30-minute ceremony on October 10, 2020 against an outdoor landscape of warm neutrals, rich burgundy accents, and guests dressed in all black. “Never in a million years did I want an outdoor wedding in Michigan but, it ended up being 79 [degrees] and sunny!” [The ceremony] was very elegant and intimate. It just felt good knowing that the people who witnessed and surrounded us [were] the people who surround us on a regular basis. They are our tribe- that's what made it perfect.”
After an extremely scaled down, yet naturally romantic quarantine wedding that included 50 local family and friends, The Whites weren’t out of the clear yet. When when they would be able to move into their new house? "We had to stop our building process for a whole month. Then, we had the wedding and everyone was happy; but our house still wasn't done! We were supposed to close [on the house] the next Friday, [but] we didn’t close the next Friday... or the next Friday...”
During the time of our interview, the newlyweds still lived separately and have only recently moved in together after the completion of their new home. “Me and Cameron [had] not been living together for the last three or four days so it has been a constant patience test for us. FINALLY we got the news that we were closing, THANK GOD!” Despite their separate addresses, the couple was still able to spend time with each other, and thankfully, are still as head-over-heels in love as in their early days with a new understanding for how patient they both can be.
ERIN ON: SACRIFICING, SHARING, AND SPACE
Continuing a sort of non-traditional pattern, the transition into “Mrs. Erin White” was also a-typical. Erin’s Howard University experience gave her the opportunity to learn herself and what she needed to thrive personally without the influence of other people. Imagine a young, college-aged woman who goes from living and working in Washington D.C., to moving back home with her parents, and then into a home with her husband. Erin openly discusses the sacrifice to move back home after college (which in Black family culture is not as widely traditional as in other cultures) in an interview where she admits there were different things she had to readjust to during the humbling experience.
“Having had that experience (D.C.),
I appreciate space differently
and at some point I’ll even want
my own office so I can separate
work from home in a better way.
For now, going into our new home
gives me a chance to redefine this space.”
During our conversation, Erin recalled the joys of living in D.C. and details the effects that living back at home had on her, “I LOVED living by myself. When I was in D.C I had the cutest apartment that was ‘Erin’ splattered all over. Once I moved back [home] I definitely struggled with not having that [space] anymore; it helped me with my creativity and brought me a lot of peace and happiness, but on the flip side, with starting my business I had to really be able to [focus on] the benefits of this sacrifice...and there were so many benefits.”
Making the transition back home after being used to her own space was tough but with the support of her parents, she gathered all things Erin and set up shop in their home office, a background easily recognized in her early Erin On Demand YouTube videos. In each phase Erin maxed out the space's potential and usefulness, “My creativity capped out in each space, and now moving into our home is going to cultivate something different. [Finally] having my husband in the house is going to be more helpful until... we annoy each other. LOL”
ERIN ON: RELAXED AMBITION
Sometimes, the intimidating thing about being an ambitious woman is the perceived necessity to sacrifice romantic relationships for success. The Whites are a breathtaking example that love along the way can work. It was the support of her then boyfriend, that gave Erin the extra push she needed to step into her fullest potential. “He was like, ‘Erin, you are THE BOMB! You have what it takes to do what you want to do; go do it!” and once his words resonated in her spirit, she agreed, "...[and] things just started taking off.”
With Cameron giving Erin his word that he would still be there with her, it was definitely the re-assurance for her!“In a sense, [he gave] me that push and assurance that I didn't have to coddle him in the relationship … that changed my life because I don't have time to coddle anymore.” Many women have a naturally helpful nature. In an attempt to get closer to what we desire in a relationship comes the tendency to micro-manage and treat the success of a relationship as our sole responsibility,"It's like you're in a rat race of trying to push to get what you want so badly and not actually getting what you want... you [have to] take that time to pursue what you want and let [your] man do his thing... That's the code that cracked our relationship, that pushed us to soar individually but also together.”
Now ladies, in our defense, we were created to be "a helper as his partner, comparable to him" (Genesis 2:18 NKJ & NRS) - we can’t help it (pun intended)! However, Erin admonishes, “There are ways you can encourage a guy and get [him] to do what you want them to do, essentially, without being pushy.” Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with needing or providing support for your partner - relationships don’t work without it - nevertheless, for individual success in a relationship, it seems the secret sauce is staying in “your lane”. Thankfully the two have the same interests and different strengths - Erin being more comfortable with creative Marketing, Branding, Video Production and creative concepts while Cameron is best with Finance, organization and structure, creating systems, and tech support. “...We went in knowing our roles because of that."
It’s their shared life values and common goals that allow their differences to bring them together in life and in business,“The first business we started together was Black and Goald…”, a community based business, ”We both love being Black, giving back, and encouraging other people, particularly Black people, to reach their goals.” Through events, merchandise and community projects, the couple was introduced to running a business and running a business together so when it came down to starting Erin on Demand, Erin was all ears to her partner’s input. “He is very much as ingrained in EOD as I am. He tells me, ‘Erin, that's your baby, but this is our business.’ He understands that it’s both of ours...especially [now that] we’re married. The transition has been very smooth for us because we feed off of each other so well- we let each other grow individually.”
My prayer for The Whites and others who have had to cancel or condense their plans this year, is that this experience will foster some of the strongest marriages and businesses; and that each sacrifice would be a testament to faith and adaptability, “God knew what we needed. The whole point of this was that we were becoming one. I knew my husband was going to be at the end of the isle and that’s all that mattered.”
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Creative Direction & Wardrobe Stylist: Ambrea Curry
Photographer: Nik Heller
Hair Stylist: Raven Walton
Makeup Artist: Brittany Garner
Interview: Ayana Bryant - Weekes
Production Assistant: Jasmine Rivers, Diamond Black
PR: Brandi Evans
Art Director: Alice Morgan
*This interview has been edited for clarity.