Married in 2016, Aisha Baker-Parnell and Wayne Parnell have been deemed #CoupleGoals. Here they share their modern love story.
They met through a mutual celebrity friend, media personality and well-being strategist Zuraida Jardine, and it’s been an enlightening journey ever since. One thing that’s never changed, though, is the love and admiration Aisha and Wayne have for each other. While he plays pro cricket and she continues to grow the Baked Online brand, the couple remain committed to nurturing their family while building a legacy they can both be proud of.
Their first encounter may not have been the meet-cute we witness in movies, but it’s rather fitting for the digital age. “We met in our early 20s when Zuraida set us up on a WhatsApp group chat and then left the chat after introducing us!” Aisha smiles. “We chatted a bit, and then Wayne flew to Cape Town from Port Elizabeth to meet me.”
She admits that, like any relationship, their journey has been challenging, especially with the added pressure of being apart for most of it, as Wayne is still in the swing of his international cricket career. Their trick to finding ‘happily ever after’ is focusing more on the “relationship you have with yourself, rather than trying to control the relationship you have with someone else”.
When you’re healthy and secure within yourself, this will translate into your union with a partner – sound advice coming from the ‘it couple’, who will be married for eight years this May.
The two wouldn’t call themselves a ‘power couple’. “It’s an overrated term,” says Wayne. “We are a normal couple. For us, ‘power’ means supporting each other and motivating each other to be better than we were yesterday, and purely just staying in our own bubble.”
Embracing it all, together
Between being an award-winning content creator and entrepreneur, mom to Khalid (5) and Salma (2), and being her husband’s greatest fan, Aisha admits she’s only just recently found a good work/life balance.
“I am a little more balanced in my approach to life now. Our kids are growing so I have decided to take a step back from my career and work demands, and focus more on being a present mother and wife. This is where I find my purpose,” she explains.
“I try to balance the pressures of career and raising a young family through working out and spending time with like-minded women who can enlighten or help me when I’m searching for guidelines… I also provide the same support to others when I have a clearer perspective on a topic. The true balance in life is having good humans around you to uplift you when life is a bit imbalanced.”
For her hubby, on the other hand, things have been trickier since picking up an injury at the end of last year. “It’s really tough. I’m still learning to find the balance between work and life, especially with the kids growing older and requiring a bit more hands-on time with me. I thoroughly enjoy it, even though I was injured and not in a great space. I was pleased about being able to keep myself busy as the family chauffeur!” he jokes.
Thankfully, Wayne had Aisha at his side, helping him recover and keep his spirits up. “I try to support Wayne by reminding him that there’s more to life than work, and how much fun we can have and memories we can make when he has those unfortunate times off from playing cricket,” Aisha says.
“Many people are unaware of how hard it is for athletes to be injured – it’s very depressing for them, as this is what they feel called to do. It’s their purpose. I try to guide and hold space for him during those times, and just make sure he feels he can come to me with his thoughts – but also not get too swept up in it, because through difficulty comes ease.”
Building a future
Both agree that being parents has been the most fulfilling season in their lives. The lovebirds are family-oriented, jumping at every chance to travel as a unit, celebrate special occasions in style, and embrace the path they’re walking together.
Wayne is especially proud of being a father, shutting the world out to soak up all the quality time he can get with his kids. “For me, when I get home and we have family time, I try to be fully present and not distracted by social media or my phone. My peers and friends already know that when I’m home with my family, it can be tricky to get hold of me!” he laughs.
Aisha is also taking the time to fully embrace motherhood. “My children are the centre of my world, and work takes a back seat in this season of my life, but I also know these things shift and change. So I just try to go with the flow and trust my intuition to guide me forwards,” she explains.
All love, always
Outside of work and parenting, Wayne has become quite the fashion fundi, just like his wife who is known for her fashion and lifestyle blogging. “I’ve been exploring my love for fashion and style through a collaborative design project with my good friend Ebraheem Davids and his streetwear brand, Eben Supply. I’m really proud to work with him as a local designer. It was also really exciting selling out so quickly!” he says.
Coming into 2024, Aisha and Wayne have kept the same focus they do every year, which is “trying to connect more as a couple when life gets busy with work and children to raise”. And when it comes to Valentine’s Day, the couple believe in celebrating the love that exists in their lives every day rather than on a specific day on the calendar.
“There’s so much pressure to celebrate relationships and love,” says Aisha. “I love Valentine’s Day personally, but I also accept that Wayne doesn’t particularly share this feeling. Instead of trying to change him, I celebrate with my friends – through gifts, doing a dinner, writing meaningful notes and cards. And I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing out because Wayne and I have so many loving, magical moments throughout the year that feel like Valentine’s Day anyway!”
Loyalty, respect and team work are the ingredients that keep Aisha and Wayne’s love story going daily. Their commitment to each other through the highs and lows is a testament to what it means to love unconditionally. We can’t wait to see their family grow and their businesses expand. Keep an eye on their Instagram to find out what’s next… You’re sure to be inspired!
Get to know
12 June 1990
3 Things She Can’t Live Without:
Wet wipes, perfume, social media
Wayne (Waleed) Dillon Parnell
30 July 1989
3 Things He Can’t Live Without:
Music, phone, cologne
Rapid Fire Q&A with the family
Best Family Memory:
Watching Daddy play at Lords in London and being able to go onto the field with him.
Dates and cake.
Date Night or Netflix & Chill?
Netflix & chill.
Complete the Sentence:
Love is… Ever evolving.
Best Parenting Hack:
Try to place yourself in your kids’ shoes.
A Quote Your Family Lives By:
“Be grateful and keep it moving.”
Your Favourite Couples’ Song:
We have too many to choose just one!
Words by: Charndré Emma Kippie
Photography: Zhann Solomons