The birth of Pristine Rock and the start of this new journey for our family, for me, was slow and easy. My main responsibility in this period of my life has been to take care of our children. I’ve had many jobs throughout my life and the titles I currently hold, “mom” and “wife” have been the most rewarding (although challenging at times) to date. I have mastered daily routines, juggled chores, activities, learning opportunities, and I’ve even begun to figure out how to fit in the occasional moments of “me time” when they are most needed. Life is difficult at times but my husband and I chose to experience all of the ups and downs together and in support of one another, which makes me his number one supporter in his decision to start a business doing something he enjoys.
I didn’t immediately know the role I would play when Jonathan started the business but I trusted that as time went on we would figure it out together. In the beginning I listened as he explained his ideas, tried to offer help in whatever manner I could, and I provided encouragement as each new hurdle came about. I knew that eventually the business would need someone to organize paperwork, track finances, and other clerical-type duties to run smoothly and I am well equipped to take on that responsibility. But after our first opportunity came, to sponsor giveaways at the Florida Frag Swap in June, I began to see the potential that this business has. I have no experience in the aquarium industry, unlike my husband, whom I consider an expert with his level of expertise, although he would never call himself one.
Luckily, I do have teaching degrees in science and years of teaching experience to go with it, which helps with my basic scientific understanding of maintaining a saltwater aquarium. But the closest experience I have to the aquatic world has been granted by my upbringing in Miami and the Florida Keys, and all the beauty and wonder that ocean life has taught me. Being born and raised in Miami afforded my family opportunities that I know are rare and precious. Not all children have been snorkeling and fishing on the reefs of the Florida Keys, or taken trips to locations all over South Florida that provide learning experiences and offer beauty that a photo can’t capture. My husband and I are grateful and lucky to have had these experiences as children, from separate families but by similar values, and are in his words, cut from the same cloth. As parents we strive to give our children the same opportunities, and meaningful and educational experiences. I have learned a lot about aquarium life through the years I’ve observed Jonathan keep his saltwater aquariums. He’s a great teacher and his passion for the life he grows and maintains in his aquariums is raw and natural. And I’ve witnessed that same passion while snorkeling alongside him, exploring the ocean together. This passion and purpose is what makes the rock work he does happen organically. Daily his creativity is being pushed to the next level and he’s offering aquarists beautiful and functional pieces to make their aquariums anything they want them to be.
As my role in the business was becoming more defined I found myself becoming challenged with things I never imagined I would. I made a rockscape that ended up attracting more comments and views than I could have ever expected. My favorite part about creating it was the time I spent with my husband after our kids were tucked into bed, learning the process and allowing my creativity to manifest in a ‘scape that now sits in a happy customers’ aquarium. The hours spent creating that one piece were filled with laughter and concentration, work and fun at the same time, and that is the foundation of our business. We do what we love, and love what we do.
The more difficult challenges I’ve had are drafting and maintaining our first webpage. I have no background in web design and had to rely on trial and error through every minute of the countless hours I put in trying to create and finetune the page. Lucky for us, we’ve since had help in updating our site and my focus went to adding and updating content on the site, and now onto writing. Also a continued struggle is finding the time to do all of this while managing our family, cook, clean, and take care of countless household duties. The most realistic time to work on business matters is after our kids are in bed, but it’s not always the best time for me to focus. I find myself exhausted after a long day and falling asleep while trying to work on the computer. And it just so happens the busiest time for our new company came when we had a huge opportunity arise and decided to attend MACNA this year. How could we pass up the chance to gain experience and put this little business out there with some of the most established aquarium companies in the business? We had a very long list of things to get done in less than a week, in order for the event to be successful for us, which resulted in many late nights and few hours of sleep. During that same week, we found out that I was pregnant, and I was only 5 weeks along at the time. The exhausting preparations and trip across the country were enough to throw me into full-on 1st trimester fatigue and constant state of nausea on the day we returned from our adventure. For the next 6 weeks I was completely incapable of doing anything except sleep, take care of our kids, and eat the few foods I could tolerate. Helping Jonathan manage the business was the last thing I had the ability to handle. Thankfully, he’s as understanding and supportive as I have been of him, and he knew that when I again became able to juggle our kids, growing a new baby, and fit in my other duties as his partner, that I would be right there doing it all again. And here I am today.
We certainly have grown as a business since day one, and now as a family (again), and we have plenty of room for more growth, in business and in our experience alike. There will be more great successes that build us up and make us proud of how far we’ve come, and there will be more challenges that we will work through together and learn from. And we are mostly grateful for the aquarium hobbyists who come to us for rock, custom creations, advice, and for giving us a chance to debut everything we have to offer on a global stage.