This is me...
IAMWARHOL's first story is my personal story. First, I would like to thank you for checking in and reading this insight into to my life!
As some of you may know, my name is Astrid, I have a son named Aryyan and a hubby who's name is Adam Reifer. Our son is 9 years young and I am 27, after doing the math you will realize I had him very young. Aryyan is THE primary reason I am who I am today, I believe I was meant to have him exactly when I did so that I could grow compassionate, humble, driven and understand the value of patience.
I grew up in SoCal, specifically in the Inland Empire, where I met the love of my life in high school. My hubby was drafted from UCR back in 2007 by the St. Louis Cardinals, and went on to play ball for teams like the Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. His career lasted about 9 years, and he hung up the cleats when he turned 30. Anytime people would ask what he did for a living, many of them would respond with woooow! How glamorous your life must be? And sure, some times it was... it wasn't your average job, we got to travel and meet interesting folks. But what many don't know is that there are divisions to baseball starting with High-A, AA, AAA, 40-man roster and finally, the Big Leagues. Adam climbed his way up, and it was no easy climb; many of these lower division players make less than minimum wage, and NO they do not earn millions until signing long term contracts in the big leagues. Further yet, just because a guy makes it to the big leagues doesn't mean he's making bank, some guys only get up there for days or weeks. Also, players don't start earning the bigger bucks until they reach AAA (more so when they get on that 40 man roster). Luckily for us, Adam did make it onto that roster while playing for the Cardinals, he made a few big league camps and then got hurt. After his injury nothing was ever the same, over time, the game started to slowly push him out. Let's face it; the closer one gets to 30, they are considered too old for sports. Players only get paid for a season, which meant our lives were contingent on saving to live through the off-seasons. When you average it all out, and since it is not consistent, financials were never secure .
For me, it was a tough road, I spent months at a time without seeing my love. The longest we spent apart was 6 months. I missed him even when he was next to me because I knew that come season, Aryyan and I would be spending many nights alone. So forever now, my boys and I always say " I love you and I miss you" while being right next to each other....Aryyan had school in Cali, so it was difficult to be with Adam full time. I went to school as well, and keeping a full time job was nearly impossible because of travel, also because Aryyan and I would spend summers wherever Adam was playing. We moved our home far too many times, and really could never call any place home. This was because we never knew for certain what team, if any team, he would be on next. So when it came time to decide on a motto for our company LEONI, "Home is the Root of the Soul" was perfect. What that phrase means is that home is not found within a place, but within love. It could be a person, a memory, a smell, a child, anything; home is what you and your family make it to be. My family of 3 never had a place to call home, home was wherever dad was, and we were home to him.
So why did we decide to start our business? Well, Adam and I had always talked about real estate, designing and flipping homes. He went to school for business and read real estate books for years. He watched his father build the home he and his sisters grew up in, so "homes" runs in his DNA. As for me, I went to school majoring in communications, and later changed to interior design. Also, whenever I did work, I always worked in real estate and loan offices. I learned the ropes and paperwork fluently. Looking back at it now, feels like life was always nudging us in the housing business direction. Without doubt, we both knew baseball would not last forever, so we planned for what would be next, and that's where it all began. To our surprise, we never imagined our company would take the path we are on, however; we are so thankful that it did.
On October 29,2015, I lost my mom to cancer. She was my aunt but raised me no different than a mother would. I called her my mom because she was my mother. I lived with her while Adam was away, and she helped raise Aryyan. I was in the room when she was diagnosed, and umm... that moment will haunt me for the rest of my life. Literally, the world flashed before my eyes, the ground was ripped away from underneath me, my heart raced and my mouth grew dry. Finding out the woman you love and look up to, the one I owe who I am to as a mother and a human, has cancer. That pain is the kind of pain, no one should ever have to experience. Soon after her diagnoses, we found out her cancer had spread everywhere, and were told she had only weeks to live. Those days were the longest, most excruciating days of my life. From the day we found out about the cancer, she was gone only three weeks later. During this time, Adam was playing baseball and I hadn't seen him for months. I supported his career for years, I was strong, but when my mom was dying I needed him more than ever. So Adam came home mid season, he stayed until after her funeral and returned to baseball. While he was away, Adam couldn't focus, he was close to my mom, and knew I still needed him. So he came home for the rest of the season. In the middle of it all, we had been struggling to make ends meet, him coming home meant we had no income. Fast forward 6 months, and after being with the Tampa Bay Rays for a spring training, Adam was finally done for good. This meant, yet again, we had limited funds to get us by. The home I grew up in was left to my sister and I, so Adam, Aryyan and myself moved in. Her death left me a complete mess, I couldn't think, sleep, eat, or care for my family. I would collapse in the shower and break down with panic attacks. To make matters worse, financially our situation got so bad that family members had to donate food to us. That's when we came up with the LEONI logo, the lion's nose has 4 colors which stands for 4 causes. Red: Cancer, my mom donated for years to this hospital. She didn't have very much money at all, but she made sure she always donated, even if it was just a little. I grew up knowing the value of helping others and giving back; all because of her. Yellow: Giving Homes (Habitat for Humanity), giving back homes is a part of who we are, because if it weren't for my childhood home, my boys and I would be living in spare bedrooms of loved ones. Thankfully, we are blessed to have a roof over our heads, but we know that are others like us out there in similar or worse situations, who have no one turn to for shelter. We are thankful to know this, and so this charity hits home. Green: Environment, green was my mom's absolute favorite color, this one is in honor of her. Blue: Ending Hunger (Feeding America), as mentioned before, we had family and friends helping us with the bare necessities. When we reached our lowest point nothing mattered more than having a roof over our heads, and food on the table. So now you know what drives us, my story is minimal compared to the hardships that so many face, the ones who have no one to turn to for help. I've realized the road to true happiness only comes to those who are capable of giving. So we made it our mission to live with purpose, to support non-profit organizations who are there to assist those in need. Sure, many people may not understand or even question our motives, and what I have to say to that is, how can we bring upon change if we keep tippy-toeing around sensitive subjects? Brining awareness is: talking about it, showing the reality of the cause to bring upon change, and participating. It's the only way to communicate the importance of giving back. Even more so, today we have this thing called "technology", which must I say many people fear. The way I see it though is that these social platforms are part of our evolution, and can be vital tools to communicate and bring awareness. We now have access to millions of people at our fingertips, if used correctly, there is nothing to fear and everything to gain.
We started our company literally with nothing, we sacrificed the little bit we had just to get it off the ground. We heard time and time again, how crazy we were for not going out and getting "regular" jobs. Or my favorite, "How could you even think of donating when you are struggling your selves?" Interesting fact is that when you give priority to something, the amount of how much you have to give goes out the window, that's because your intentions are enough, and the rest is history. We had a choice to either dwell on our situation or use our experiences to make a difference. With that said, today we are humble and proud of where we stand, and what the future holds for LEONI...because it is so much more than just a company, we want to do remarkable things in our hometown. We have sincere drive and passion for what we do, and our lowest times are the ones we value most..... Because if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have LEONI... We welcome you all to follow our journey and watch us grow.
With an open heart, Astrid Reifer