Just a few days after sitting down with Nsuani and Erin Baffoe in the Riverdale townhome, I received a Facebook message from the latter. She was concerned. “I don’t want the added attention,” she said. She also mentioned it was not the best time to chat.
At first I was a bit flattered. For her to think a story written by me would bring enough attention for her to feel uncomfortable is a compliment. I decided not to answer and to just wait it out. Something told me another message was on its way. Two days later, wouldn’t you know she gives the green light.
“Let’s do the article.”
I wasn’t surprised. Despite the brashness you would associate with a successful lawyer of six years, there’s a subtlety to Erin. She has a gentleness that accompanies her confidence. She speaks frankly about everything, including her husband and 18-month-old son London, but there’s never a sense of distress in her tone. Everything is under control when Erin speaks. You can sense it.
“He changed our lives,” she says of London. “Before him, we went through a phase where we spent ridiculous amounts of money without ever thinking about it.”
That would be around 2012 when combined the couple made more money than they’d like to mention. They moved into a Liberty Village condo paying $1500/month on a mortgage. With each person making six figures, you can imagine splitting the mortgage left a lot of disposal income. So dispose of their income they did … Bundles of it.
“We were flying to Europe, buying purses, vacationing to Jamaica, Bahamas, Costa Rica.” They’re both taking turns naming islands.
Nsuani is standing as he recalls their sprees. He’s grinning, enjoying talking about the times when spending didn’t have much consequences. He’s also quick to point out that this wasn’t always the case. He recalls when the two first started dating. He was a trainer at Goodlife about to make the jump to manager and Erin would come in late at night to workout.
“She was just finished law school and was articling by then. We decided to meet for lunch downtown one day. She took me to this restaurant in Yorkville called Cafe-something with no prices on the menu. I had to run to the bathroom and tell one of my boys to transfer me some cash because I didn’t think my card would clear.”
They both had a good laugh. Erin, of course, remembers the story much differently. She says there were definitely prices on the menu. They go back and forth for a bit, neither wanting to concede.
This is the epitome of their relationship. Two relenting forces brought together to form one colossus. Nsuani is much more openly combative. Right or wrong —his perspective must be heard. More importantly, it must be respected.
“You’re not listening to me,” or “You’re not letting me finish,” were his favourite sayings of the evening. It’s this dynamic that is most interesting. Two people who can argue their points nearly to the climax of explosion and then seconds later switch the conversation to why there wasn’t any meat in the soup.
“I don’t get it,” Nsuani says jokingly. “Some red meat would’ve been perfect.”
“But it’s vegetarian soup.” Nsuani shakes his head. He doesn’t get it. But it’s this resiliency that initially attracted him in the first place.
“She was a hustler. She was still in law school then. She would come to the gym really late at night after a long day’s work. I knew she wasn’t soft.”
Erin’s answer to what her initial attraction is far more simple.
“He was cute.”
That cuteness has obviously morphed into a lifelong bond. And after that Yorkville date, the two started an entertainment fund of $50 each a week.
“She had already put in the work with law school and was about to cash in. I was still in my sacrificial stage as a trainer. But we both knew right then that this was a long-term thing.”
Six years later and that entertainment pot is a lot bigger. Their home alone will surely sell in the seven figures once they decide to leave. Nsuani is not just manager, but he’s responsible for eight of Goodlife’s gyms spread across the financial district of the downtown core. Together those locations make up the most profitable group of gyms in all of Canada.
I ask them both if they feel like they’re successful. If making six figures and living in a beautiful downtown Toronto home with a deck the size of a King West apartment makes them feel like they’ve made it.
The answer is a unanimous “No.”
“I haven’t even scratched the surface of my potential,” Nsuani says. “And not just financially. I want to feel like I’m using my skills at the highest level.” Erin chimes in and says they are not comfortable at all. She personally sees making partner in her firm as one clear cut sign of success.
“Professionally, I’m still in my growing phase. Being partner is more of a mental goal than a financial one. We both have a long way to go professionally.”
I finally ask them both what would make them feel more successful. If there’s a number they have in mind that would give them that comfort.
“Just a little bit more,” Nsuani says. “Then once we have a little bit more, just a little bit more after that.”
In true fashion, Erin’s response is more poignant. “When I don’t have to make the decision between seeing my son and going to work. That’s success.”
Potential Power Couple, indeed.