My name is Pamela Rubio and I’m the founder of Paru Creative Services specializing in graphic design and web development. Prior to starting my own business, I lived in Toronto, Canada and worked in Client Management for a medium sized marketing company. I’ve always been creative in nature and as a hobby, taught myself how to code and use graphic design and web development software. To improve my skills, I also took on the role of graphic designer at the company I worked for and eventually built up a pretty decent portfolio.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed my job, it had always been my dream to travel and live in different cities. I took every opportunity to travel – negotiating with my boss for extra vacation days and jumping on every opportunity to travel for work. I become pretty notorious for volunteering to go on every business trip whether it was in Edmonton in the middle of winter or Honduras in the middle of nowhere. My ultimate dream however, was to have my own business and travel full time! At the time it was just a pipe dream. I had no idea where to start, where I would find clients or if my portfolio was even good enough to do it full time.
In 2010, I was sent on a business trip to Panama to review a real estate project and take photos for the project’s marketing materials and website. I was thrilled at the opportunity and never would have imagined where that trip would lead me. Wouldn’t you know it, on my second day in Panama, I met my wonderful partner Josh. He had travelled to Panama to develop an eco-adventure tour company and had been living there for a little while. With him as my tour guide, I quickly discovered what a beautiful country Panama is with its gorgeous beaches, lush jungles and a modern, and bustling city. What followed soon after was a long distance relationship spanning two continents. After a few months of both of us traveling back and forth between Panama and Toronto, I started to become more serious about my dream to venture out and start my own freelance business and travel full time.
That’s when I discovered WordPress.
Making The Leap
I had limited knowledge of coding but I knew my way around html and CSS. I was thrilled with the prospect of downloading themes and customizing them with my own designs. It was right in line with my design skill set and knowledge of web development. When I first started searching for places to download themes, it was overwhelming! How do you choose between free themes and others going for $125 per theme? After hours of searching, I finally settled on Elegant Themes because of the price point and the great reviews I read online. What I found were well-structured and beautifully-designed themes with the most amazing customer support forum where I learned tons of new skills on customizing WordPress themes. That was the moment I knew I was on to something! I found the confidence to get the ball rolling and things went into lightning speed from there. I got rid of my downtown apartment, sold and donated all my stuff and moved into my brother’s basement to save money. I spent months learning everything I could about WordPress and improving my skills in coding and graphic design. I also started networking and creating valuable relationships to secure clients. My first project was my own website www.parucreativeservices.com using the MyProduct theme – which I recently upgraded using the Flexible theme:
I soon quit my job (with the blessing of my employers who are now one of my clients) and hauled my worldly possessions to Panama to live there full time. One of my first web projects was Josh’s eco-adventure tour company called Panama Outdoor Adventures using the My Cuisine theme:
Forward to three years later and my business is going strong and I’m still traveling the world. Things have gotten so busy that Josh has taken on the role of Project Manager in charge of client relations and business development so I can focus more on design. We have a great balance of work and traveling and adventuring! My life is a far cry from the Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 rat race that I lived for 10 years!
Here are a few of my favorite work moments so far:
- Dodging bats and snakes while exploring a cave to take photos for a tourism website.
- Meeting new clients while sailing the Caribbean waters in the San Blas islands.
- Taking client requests while vacationing in a mansion in Hawaii.
- Skype conference calls poolside while sipping mojitos in Philippines.
- Flying back to Toronto for a 2 month contract with my former employers.
- Living in a brand new beachfront condo resort for 2 months for free while I worked on their new website
- Hanging out with monkeys and parrots and other future residents of the newest zoo in Panama while I work on developing their website using the Flexible theme.
- Me writing this article right now from the Caribbean island town of Bocas del Toro, Panama where I am working on developing a new website for a boutique hotel.
I feel so fortunate that I get to be creative, do what I love and help businesses prosper. I think it’s amazing that something like WordPress and Elegant Themes could have such a profound effect on the direction that my career has taken. Thanks Elegant Themes, for giving me the opportunity to share my story. Please keep those amazing themes coming… I still have a lot of traveling to do!