My business is We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym for All kids. Our doors opened at the end of the year in September 2010. We are an open play sensory gym. What that means is that all the fun equipment we use — swings, climbing apparatus and toys — is based on occupational therapy. All children love to play at We Rock, but for children who are on the spectrum, they need it!
What inspired you to open your business?
My son Gabriel was diagnosed with Autism back in 2009. Our biggest challenge was finding a place that our typical daughter Sophia and Gabriel could both play together. We had turned our bedroom into a mini O.T. gym per our therapist request to keep Gabriel regulated while not in therapy. After some time, I thought to myself, there is nothing out there like this to offer the public. My daughter Sophia had just as much fun on all the swings we set up. Due to the unmet need in our community, We Rock opened its doors and people loved it. My dream came true, kids on the spectrum and typical kids were playing together.
What has been your biggest unexpected challenge?
My biggest challenge with opening the gym has been getting my children to come home! They love it and want us to build a house on top of the building. Truly though, I have been blessed because I have been so proactive with our son since he was 20 months old. I knew what to expect with our clientele at the gym. I hope to open more We Rock the Spectrums wherever they are needed. If I could, I would do it tomorrow. Being a Mom and a wife, my husband always tells me “You can’t change the world overnight Dina, one day at a time.” When you see these families and their children and how much the gym helps them, it’s the biggest gift ever.
How do you balance family and business?
To be an entrepreneur and a mom, you have to know that your family comes first. I sold my clothing stores after 18 years to open a business where I could be with my children everyday. I opened the gym for my family. I had no idea how much the community would embrace us. It’s been amazing to help and give a home to so many families.
When you are really stressed, you are most likely to:
Grab my children and go down to the gym. My husband and I get to watch and play with our children and not get funny looks, not get told “why is your child acting like that”, “how old is he”, and even get thrown out of places. We Rock is our safe place to go as a family and just relax.
A piece of advice for other Moms interested in opening a business:
My advice to other Moms opening a business is to follow your dream. Go with your gut instinct. It’s always wonderful to get advice, especially financial, but you are the Mom, and as the saying goes “Moms know best.” Make sure you do not overspend when opening your business. Never put the lifestyle of your family in jeopardy when opening your business. Being single and an entrepreneur is completely different than being a Momtreprenuer!
Fun fact about you:
I have been my own boss my whole life but at We Rock The Spectrum, people tell me I am the biggest kid at the gym. Moms giggle and say are you sure you guys EVER go home!