Ejay O’Donnell, the man behind the popular Tacoma_Wa Instagram page, lives and breathes Tacoma. O’Donnell moved to Tacoma when he was 2 years old and has no desire to ever leave. After years of hearing negative comments about the city, he decided to start an Instagram page to showcase the city’s community and beauty. He launched it in 2012. It has amassed about 34,000 followers and is the city’s largest community page for Tacoma. In 2021, O’Donnell is planning to take his passion for Tacoma to a new level with Project Tacoma — an apparel and accessory company with a twist.
TO RELAX My backyard. We spent three summers transforming our backyard into an oasis, and it’s definitely my go-to place to relax.
TO GRAB A COFFEE Anthem Coffee or Campfire Coffee
FOR DINNER Wooden City is the best restaurant in town. I would eat there every day if I could.
FOR BREAKFAST Arthouse Café.
TO BE INSPIRED My family. I have an amazing wife, Lindsay, of nine years, and two amazing daughters, Quincy (6) and Holland (2). I feel like I am inspired every day because of them.
CURRENTLY READING I am more of an Audible guy. Right now, I am listening to Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill again.
CURRENTLY LISTENING TO I have always been a hip-hop head, and lately I have had Gang Starr on repeat. “Moment of Truth” is one of my favorite albums, and I listen to it daily.
MANTRA YOU LIVE BY “The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”
HOBBIES Spending time with my family, freelance design work, running, and helping people. Before the pandemic, I was hosting a mentorship meetup called Opportunity Has No Offseason (OHNO) three to four times a year. I would bring in a guest speaker, and we would have a conversation, and they would tell their story to whoever attended. I will definitely be bringing this back once things simmer down.
What led you to start the Tacoma_WA Instagram page? How has it grown/changed over the years?
I heard time and time again, “Tacoma this and Tacoma that,” the reputation Tacoma has, the smell, etc. It was always negative when I told people I lived in Tacoma. The @ Tacoma_Wa idea came to me in 2012, when a friend of mine moved to San Diego from Tacoma and started a @SanDiego_CA Instagram page … and I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do for Tacoma. I created the Instagram account and started posting things I loved about Tacoma, and it really resonated with the community.
Tell us about Project Tacoma. What is it, and why create it now?
Project Tacoma is an apparel and accessory company with a twist. It is a line of evergreen products that will always be available online, but I will be focusing on doing six to 12 collaborations per year. Each collaboration will be with a person, brand, or company that you may not normally see on a collaboration. The goal is to highlight the person, brand, or company in the form of apparel. It will be limited runs, and we will also be pairing the collaborations with a podcast, Tacoma Built, so they can tell their story and why they are Tacoma built. We are just built different here, and I want to really highlight the mindset that we have, the hard work we put in, and the dreams being accomplished in our own backyard. I want Project Tacoma and Tacoma Built to be household Tacoma names. And why now? I am more motivated than ever to fulfill my dreams. Time is not slowing down. I have always wanted to create something like this, so now is no better time.
What has brought you joy recently?
Building out Project Tacoma has brought me a lot of joy. I am a creator, designer, and brand builder. I absolutely love creating, and I feel like I am at my best when I am creating and building.