Married seven months ago, newlyweds, Justin Rearden, 31, and Lyndi Stein, 31, quit their jobs to follow what they love.
Lyndi, originally from Orlando, Fla. and Justin, originally from Birmingham, Ala. and raised in West Palm Beach, Fla., met at Bonnaroo in 2005. Both were living in Orlando at the time, they then separately moved to New Orleans where they started dating.
Lyndi now runs her own bakery called the Littlest Love, and Justin is the director of operations at The Peach Truck, a Nashville-based company that brings fresh Georgia peaches to the mid-state.
“Five years ago we were living in New Orleans. We opened up a map of the U.S. to move somewhere else. We looked at Nashville and Denver,” Justin said. “We had both been to Denver before, but neither of us had been to Nashville. Looking back, we’re glad we made that move.”
LETTING GO to MOVE FORWARD
When she first arrived in Nashville, Lyndi, who has a background in engineering, was a utility consultant.
“While looking for a job, I don’t know why but I started baking. I guess it was something to fill my time,” Lyndi said. “Before I started baking the most complicated thing I made was a grilled cheese.”
She said she would make things she’d heard about, follow the recipe to the tee and found whatever she made tasted awful.
“It was difficult, but then I realized it was something more than just the recipe. I started looking up what each product was, learning about it and eventually I figured it out,” she said. “I love that process and I still do that today.”
Lyndi incorporated her bakery, Littlest Love, in 2013.
“I might have sold maybe a dozen cookies that year, but it felt good. It felt like a step forward,” she said. The next year, she worked more in the community doing fundraisers and nonprofit work to build the brand and get the name out there.
She said leaving her job was difficult because she worked for a great company and with great people.
“Over the summer, I got catapulted into doing a lot of different things with baking and things started to fall into place and click. Ultimately, it came down to juggling both,” she said. “It came to the point where I wasn’t sleeping much at all, and I realized if I wanted to give it my full go I need to really do that.”
Lyndi said so far, it’s been intimidating but exciting.
“I just want it to be something that the community supports and then be able to support the community as well,” she said. “I envision a space where people can gather, a place to bring friends from out of town, a place with quality products and something that represents Nashville well.”
Lyndi said the concept of The Littlest Love is a late night place where people can come for another drink after dinner, a cup of coffee or a dessert.
“It’s something Nashville needs,” Justin said. “There aren’t any late night bakeries that have coffee, wine or beer and is a spot for people to hang out.”
Lyndi said some of her most popular desserts are pecan pies, chocolate chip cookies and a banana cake with avocado frosting.
PEACHES BRING NEW BEGINNING
Justin was a financial analyst for engineering consulting firms when he first arrived in Nashville.
“I absolutely hated it,” Justin said. After four months, he left to become an accountant for an advertising agency in The Gulch where he worked for nearly four years in operations.
Eventually, Justin left his advertising job to find a new change of scenery. He then joined what he was told was a financial advertising startup.
“They sold it very differently, and I decided within four days of being there that it wasn’t the place for me,” he said.
He said and his wife are good friends with the woman who used to be the director of operations at The Peach Truck. When she stepped down to pursue other endeavors, he emailed founders Stephen and Jessica Rose and expressed interest for the position.
“I heard back almost immediately and within a week I had three interviews and an offer,” he said.
Stephen and Jessica Rose started the Peach Truck about five years ago when they couldn’t find any fresh local peaches so they decided to bring fresh Georgia peaches to Nashville. Their idea has since grown into a fruitful small business.
Justin said he and Lyndi took a chance with this job because it is so different than anything he’s ever done.
Right now, he’s enjoying some time off during the off-season before gearing up to start his second season in February.
He said the team does preplanning organizing trucking and markets to attend in the summer from February up until mid-May and then works the full season (approximately 13 weeks) when the peaches arrive. They wrap things up around the end of August as the peach season ends. Then it’s five months off until the process starts again the following year.
Justin said a lot of the operations come down to logistics and trucking, which he admitted he knew nothing about when he first started.
“We work with such an amazing group of people who love what they do,” he said. “Everyone that works with us wears so many different hats and juggles a lot of different things because we are so small.”
Justin also helps schedule markets and organizes how the Peach Truck gets to those markets. He said in the busiest Saturday of the summer the Peach Truck had 18 markets planned in one day. He said part of his job is making sure everything goes smoothly.
“A lot of people don’t know about the other arm of the company, but we do what we call our Freestone Small Town Tour, and we travel for six weeks in the second half of the season. We have a team that sells boxes of peaches. We hit 220 stops through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana,” he said.
He said there’s a lot of work and a lot of care that goes into making sure the peaches are fresh and well taken care of.
“If you get a peach from us here in Nashville it’s usually 48 hours off of the tree. If you get a peach from a grocery store it’s usually anywhere from 30 to 40 days off the tree.”
Justin said The Peach Truck only uses peaches from Pearson Farms in Fort Valley, Ga.
“It’s in Peach County, so it’s the perfect place in the world to grow peaches. The soil and the temperature are just right,” he said. “One you have one you’re hooked.”
Justin and Lyndi said the last few years for them have been interesting and which the amount of change that’s happened.
“Life is too short to do something you absolutely hate. One of our thought processes was finding a job that doesn’t feel like a job,” he said.
“It’s never the right time, but sometimes you just have to take that jump,” she said.
COMMUNITY and CONCERNS
“Nashville is a great example of what a healthy city community can look like,” Justin said. “I’ve never lived anywhere or have been anywhere that has the same vibe and feel as Nashville does. There’s something special about this city.”
Justin said he loves that the community supports small businesses and that people are able to see their dreams grow into a reality.
“When our friends come here to visit us they are blown away by the feeling here,” he said. “It’s different. People are so welcoming and supporting. It’s like nothing else.”
Lyndi agreed and said she has never lived in a city where people helped without ulterior motives.
“Individuals make up the city and we all have our part in making a change. I’ve definitely seen the community grow tenfold in the last four and half years that we’ve been here.”
“We all have a place here, and we all want to succeed, and the only way we succeed is if we build each other up,” she said.
Justin said most people have similar ideas of how to grow Nashville without turning it into Atlanta.
“I think a lot of people have those concerns,” he said. “Yes, Nashville can grow, but it can grow without turning into a monstrosity of a city. I like Nashville because it’s small and you can walk into a coffee shop and see someone you know.”
Justin and Lyndi said real estate and affordability are also big concerns of theirs.
The newlyweds live in East Nashville, and they said their street is slowly changing.
“You don’t want to lose that charm of Nashville, and building four houses on one property is awful. It’s good for the community to grow when people have a place to live but it feels less about making sure people have a place to live and more about a paid gig. You can’t do that to the community. You can’t kick someone out who has lived there for 30 years to stack people on top of each other,” they said.
Justin said another area of concern for him is putting resources into different neighborhoods. He said a lot of money goes into beautifying downtown, but he hopes it continues to expand into cleaning up surrounding neighborhoods.
For him, Justin said finding normalcy in a job that’s not normal and dedicating his time to help his wife grow her business is important to him right now. Lyndi said what’s important to her is deepening their roots in Nashville and focusing on her entrepreneurship.
“Our biggest thing over the past 12 months has been finding jobs that we’re passionate about and that don’t seem like jobs. A lot of people think that what we’re doing is unattainable and that they can’t do it but it’s important to know we’re in that position before and you definitely can,” he said. “You have to focus your energy on doing it because it is scary, but you just have to do. Life could be over tomorrow, and you don’t want to be sitting a cubicle looking forward to your retirement.”
Lyndi said if you’re not scared you’re not doing it right.
Thanks for reading Nashville!
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