For Sweetest Day, a look at how three Detroit-area couples navigate work, family, and marriage

Work hard, love hard

click to enlarge Melody and Anthony “Koolade” Temple joined forces at Royal Oak's AYV x Fresher streetwear store. - se7enfifteen
se7enfifteen
Melody and Anthony “Koolade” Temple joined forces at Royal Oak's AYV x Fresher streetwear store.

Sweetest Day is a holiday with a meaning that varies depending on who you ask. The Midwestern holiday began as a way to boost candy sales in the 1920s but has since evolved to be less about selling the sweet stuff and more about celebrating the sweetest thing ever known — love.

To some, it acts as a day to celebrate and spoil men, since traditional Valentine’s Day marketing is usually geared toward women. To others, it’s just one more reason to brag out loud about the love of their life.

This Sweetest Day, we talked to three Detroit area couples who love out loud while raising their families and working together daily.

Meet the Temples, the Williamses, and the Maples.

The Temples

When you walk into AYV x Fresher in downtown Royal Oak, the first person to greet you isn’t a seasoned employee or one of the store’s owners, Melody and Anthony “Koolade” Temple. It’s their one-year-old son, Anthony Jr.

After narrowly dodging his rapidly moving walker, you’re likely to look up and see his parents working in the background of their clothing store, folding new items or handling inventory.

Fashion is at the core of what brought the Temples together. The two met many years ago during a fashion show at the former Cobo Hall (now Huntington Place). Melody was a featured model, and Koolade was there showcasing his streetwear brand, AYV Lifestyle.

At the time, Melody was still in her teens and Koolade was not. One thing that both make clear is that their romantic interest in each other was not something that began when they first met.

“Honestly, I’ve always thought she was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, but I never looked at her like that,” says Koolade. “I never thought ‘Oh, I’m gonna get her.’ I just never thought of her like that.”

In fact, Anthony says he didn’t think twice about her until more than a decade later, as Melody approached her late 20s. It was her 25th birthday when Anthony decided to shoot his shot — and Melody blocked his advances like Tayshaun Prince blocked Reggie Miller in the 2004 NBA Playoffs. Not necessarily because of a lack of interest, she says, but more because she just thought he was being funny.

Their romantic story began to write itself after Koolade took an interest in Melody’s women’s streetwear brand, Fresher Brand. One night, while casually hanging out, Melody told Koolade she was leaving to deliver an order to a customer. This didn’t sit well with him. “It was like 10:30 at night, and she told me she was going to do this delivery,” Koolade says. “I told her it was too late and she couldn’t be out in the streets doing that. So I gave her keys to my store.”

At the time, Koolade’s AYV brand had a storefront in Midtown, and soon after Melody’s Fresher line would begin taking up a corner of the store’s real estate. Koolade’s gesture to help out his friend meant the two began spending a lot more time together in the intimate setting of that storefront. Soon they began to develop a more romantic interest.

“Shortly after we started kicking it, I got into a car accident, and he picked me up and drove me to work every single day,” says Melody. “Because of that, we would spend all day together, before work and after.”

They continued to develop their business relationship and their personal relationship, despite a 16-year age gap. While Melody says the age gap wasn’t much of an issue for her, Koolade says that it’s something that definitely crossed his mind in the beginning.

“For her, the age gap wasn’t a challenge. For me, it was there,” he says. “The first thing I started thinking of is what I expected her not to do. Like I know she’s not going to do this, or I know she’s not going to be attentive. I know she’s not going to be home, because she’s young. But when we got into those situations — I was wrong. I was completely wrong about her.”

“I grew up knowing what I wanted and what I didn’t want in relationships, and I’ve always been straightforward about that,” Melody adds. “I was able to say, ‘I can do this, you do that. This is how I pictured this working, so let’s figure out what’s going to work and what’s going to be our balance.’”

As Melody’s brand continued to grow, they quickly realized they had outgrown the small space they occupied in Midtown. After a temporary solution turned sour, the two found themselves in quick need of a new space. Melody says she prayed on the situation and soon received a phone call from a friend about a space at 208 W. 11 Mile Rd. in downtown Royal Oak that was for sale.

“I didn’t react negatively when our last situation went left,” she says. “I prayed. I asked God and just hoped that we would find something else. At the time it was a photography studio and a friend of mine sent me a video of how the space looked, and it was everything that we were looking for, everything that we wanted. Everything was divine order in the way that it was supposed to be done, and it honestly gave me the confidence [about the] relationship, not just business-wise, but personally as well. Everything just flowed for us, it was never forced.”

After two years of dating, Koolade asked Melody for her hand in marriage on Christmas Eve in 2018. When asked how he knew it was time, Koolade says he just felt different.

“I felt like I was actually in love for real,” he says. “I thought I was in love one other time in my life, but the feelings I had for her, I just knew it had to be real. One day we had an argument over something small and stupid and she didn’t speak to me for three days, and it actually bothered me. I was just like, ‘What am I doing? I really care about her, and she’s really not speaking to me.’ Usually, I don’t care, but I wanted to make this right. That’s when I realized what love really is.”

The couple wed on February 23, 2020, just weeks before COVID-19 would shut the world down. The Temples said the pandemic had little effect on how they operated daily because they truly enjoy each other as friends. They continued to work together and develop their brands, as they always have.

These days, the Temples have found their groove. Their decade-long friendship set the tone for what would ultimately become their business relationship and marriage.

“Everything always flows with us; it’s never been forced,” says Melody. “It’s just about finding that right person and knowing that there will be small things to confirm that you’re doing it with the right person. I’m doing it with mine.”

click to enlarge Rick and Yolanda Williams met at Oakland University in the early 2000s. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Rick and Yolanda Williams met at Oakland University in the early 2000s.

The Williamses

Back on Oakland University’s campus in the early 2000s, during a time when Sony Discmans were still a thing and cellphones weren’t nearly as advanced as they are now, a new student developed a rapport with a friendly stranger she would see while working shifts at the school’s student center.

That’s how the love story of Rick and Yolanda Williams begins. The two were always friendly and polite, but never held a full conversation until one day in the school’s cafeteria.

“I didn’t know him. He would just walk past the reservations office and do a little head nod,” Yolanda recalls. “We would just speak and say ‘what up’ and this before we ever sat down and fully had a conversation. They had this thing called midnight breakfast where you get breakfast at midnight in the cafeteria, and I remember telling one of my roommates at the time like, ‘I think I’m going to definitely get him,’ and the rest was history. I got him.”

Rick and Yolanda dated for three years before tying the knot. The young couple got married and still managed to go to class that Monday. They skipped a honeymoon at the time because they couldn’t afford it. It’s something Rick doesn’t regret, because he says all they truly wanted was to be with each other.

“We didn’t go on a honeymoon, we couldn’t afford that. But what we did know is that I wanted to be with her, and she wanted to be with me, and we wanted to build together,” says Rick. "That was the blessing, we grew together and really started from the mud, from nothing. We were so happy, broke, we were below the poverty level, and didn’t even know it.”

What started with a simple head nod and would turn into 17 years of marriage, two children, and thriving businesses. Together Rick and Yolanda own Cream Blends, a natural skincare brand, and Distinct Life, a brand development agency.

When it comes down to working together, the Williams move as one unit: them against everything else.

“I want to do whatever I can to make things easier for Yo, and she tries to do the same thing for me,” Rick says. “We apply that throughout everything. When she came to me with this formula and the idea to do Cream Blends, it made sense. I’m a brand guy, I develop brands. I used the God-given gifts and talents that I charge other people for, and poured them into her. Actually, we pour into each other. I haven’t had a copywriter. Yolanda has been my copywriter since we started.”

The pair are more than business partners, parents, and spouses. They’re also friends. Both agreed that prioritizing their friendship is what helped them navigate their relationship for the last two decades.

“Getting married, being in love, that’s easy,” Yolanda says. “It’s the friend part that’s not as easy. I know a lot of married people that are married, been married for years, and they’re just married. They’re not friends. I think when you’re friends you’re able to see when you’re having bad days, when you’re having good days. There have been plenty of times working together where I have had to say, or Rick has had to say, I need my husband or I need my wife to respond, not my business partner.”

“She’s my best friend, no one is a better friend,” Rick says. “We help each other get better. She sees what I’m passionate about, and vice versa, and we push each other in those directions.”

The friendship also extends to their children. That might sound weird, but in an age where “fuck those kids” can be seen across social media memes, being present for their kids is something that the Williams are sure to prioritize.

“I grew up with my mom and grandmother saying ‘I’m not your little friend,’ and I think that’s not correct,” says Yolanda. “I am your friend, because what happens when you’re not friends is they turn 18 and they don’t need you anymore. My children still respect us, but they’re still our friends. I like them, they’re cooler than most people.”

The Williams currently homeschool their kids, with Yolanda taking the lead on that, but they are both active, open, and honest with their kids. Rick says this environment allows their children to see them differently by seeing how they work, because they’re with them all the time. He also says it allows them to communicate very freely as a family, which is something he didn’t have.

“As a general rule, I believe that we’re teaching our boys by how we live and how we move. My children watch me 24/7. There aren’t any breaks,” says Rick. “Every day we talk as a family about stuff, and to me that’s the difference. I didn’t grow up with that.”

“I tell people all the time that my kids’ classmates are also their parents,” says Yolanda. “They have these two experienced classmates that are teaching them and listening to their views.”

When asked what it’s like balancing work, family, and their own relationship, Yolanda says it’s something they’re still working on, but they’re learning how to recalibrate.

“Life isn't balanced. Sometimes you just have too much on your plate, but we’re learning to say no more,” says Yolanda. “I think balance is something that everybody is always searching for. If somebody tells you that they have everything balanced, and it was working out 100% of the time, they’re lying. It’s a constant process.”

One thing the Williams have figured out is how hard they ride for each other. Even if they may not agree on how to handle a business venture, through thick and thin the Williams stick together.

“We sink or swim together,” says Rick. “My thing is we’ll do it, and I don’t mind sinking a little bit, as long as she’s staying on this boat with me.”

click to enlarge Jeff and Randi Rossario Maples reconnected after many years apart. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Jeff and Randi Rossario Maples reconnected after many years apart.

The Maples

One thing about Randi Rossario Maples, she’s going to tell you how she feels. Her presence is as large as the opinions she spews on Instagram, her comedy act, and the podcast she hosts on. She’s a woman of many words, until you ask her about her marriage to Jeff Maples.

Sitting in their Oak Park office, Randi, who can sound off about anything, becomes quite bashful when speaking of her husband. There’s a softness to Randi that many don’t get to see.

The two met in 2008 at Bert’s on Broadway when they were both party promoters on the scene. They dated for a while, before separating and moving on to other relationships. The pair remained friends over the years and on Randi’s 29th birthday, she got a special surprise miles away from home.

During a girl’s trip to Miami, a friend of Randi’s who Jeff just so happened to be following posted their location. Jeff used the opportunity to reach out to Randi with the idea of sending her flowers for her birthday. After she told him she would still be celebrating in Miami, he told her he would be down there as well for business. The two went out to dinner and picked up where they left off.

“We had a ball, it was nothing but good vibes and we picked up exactly where we left off,” says Randi. “We went out to a steakhouse and during that date, that’s when I really knew he was my forever mate.”

Jeff extended his trip to Miami and the rekindled lovebirds continued to enjoy each other. That was mid-May, and by the 4th of July, the two had purchased their first home together. Later that year, Jeff proposed to Randi, and the two would get married in May 2019, roughly a year from that date in Miami.

While that timeline may seem short to some people, Randi says it felt different to her because Jeff wasn’t a stranger and was someone she already shared a friendship and connection with.

“We've always been extremely compatible with one another, but the timing was not what it needed to be,” says Randi. “I had to get some shit off my chest and he had to get some shit off his chest. We had to both experience things and get some more season on us.”

“I’m a visionary, I can see my future and where we’re going, but I’m unable to see the journey,” says Jeff. “I’ve never been in a position where I was dating someone or talking to someone where I was able to see the older successful version of myself. I saw that with her.”

One of the things that Jeff experienced during that time he and Randi weren’t together is fatherhood. He has two children, Dominick and Sophia, from a previous relationship, and when it came to blending their family it took some adjusting, but they made it work.

“We had no choice but to make it work,” says Jeff. “It wasn’t just about what I wanted to happen, it’s what I felt was best for my kids, my future, and the family I saw myself having.”

“I was in a transition of learning how to really stand on my own, and during that transition, God blessed me with them,” says Randi. “It’s been an adjustment, but I’ve figured it out. There are things I haven’t figured out yet, but we’re figuring them out together along the way.”

Randi has partnered with Alley Ray, the mother of Jeff’s children, and co-authored a book together called Coparent Like a Boss. The book tells their story of learning to blend their family, a family that expanded when Randi gave birth to their son, Chandler, in 2020.

The Maples are a busy pair. Randi is an influencer, who also works as director of operations for Detroit music-based company WRKSHP, and Jeff owns the Capital Brand, a lifestyle branding and consulting agency. Together the two own StreamTicket, a live entertainment streaming service, and these titles barely scratch the surface for all the things the two entrepreneurs have their hands in.

Balancing co-parenting, a toddler, entrepreneurship, and a marriage can be a lot. The two have developed a routine that works for them, and Randi says their partnership is what makes juggling all of it easy.

“We're still working through it, but I think we have a really good balance right now,” she says. “We’re genuinely teammates, and I love that for us, and I love that our kids get to see that with us.”

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About The Author

Alex Washington

Born and raised on Detroit's Westside, Alex Washington is about as Detroit as they come. She judges your coney island order and serves a mean side-eye when anything across Eight Mile is called "Detroit." Her writing has been published in Real Detroit Weekly, The Detroit Free Press, Model D, BLAC magazine, and...
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