Ampersand Women: Jeralyn Gerba & Pavia Rosati of Fathom
May 23, 2015 | Filed in: Woman of the Week
For many, being a travel writer is the ultimate dream. For Jeralyn Gerba and Pavia Rosati, it’s reality. Four years ago, the former DailyCandy editors teamed up to create the thoughtful travel site they felt had been missing from their own lives. Fathom, a one-stop destination for fueling your wanderlust, combines inspiring stories with practical recommendations, itineraries, and resources. “We will never pretend there are ‘10 Secret Beaches in Mexico’ or ‘12 Must-See Places Before You Die’,” says Rosati. “We’ll just turn you on to places you’ll be dreaming about long after you’ve come home.”
We recently caught up with the whip-smart pair (which wasn’t easy, by the way—they’re always on the go) to chat about building a business, “girl money,” and happy hour with Hemingway.
How did you two decide to become partners?
JG: We had brainstormed, edited, and vacationed together for years, and knew we had a good working relationship. Back in 2010, Pavia was feeling out concepts for an online travel business. As we started drawing up plans, it became clear that I would spend the next several thousand days working, collaborating, tag-teaming, arguing, and drinking wine with her.
PR: When I was ready to take Fathom from a figment in my brain to an idea on paper, Jeralyn was the first one I told. It’s been a seamless collaboration since.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
JG: Surprised every single day!
PR: Hell no! And I don’t ever refer to myself as one.
Are you surprised about where you’ve ended up?
JG: I was always interested in carving out a lifestyle where work and play intersected.
PR: I’m surprised by the things that have been difficult—ad sales, fundraising, publicity. (Then again, we’re a lean operation and modest by nature.) I’m not surprised that we’ve built something beautiful, fun, useful, and charming that resonates with friends, industry, and strangers alike.
What are a few of the lessons you’ve learned since starting your own business?
JG: 1) Fearlessness comes from experiencing colossal failures and tremendous triumphs all in one day. 2) A thoughtful, loyal team makes all the difference. 3) Develop some business acumen. Stat.
PR: I’ve had to make peace with two realities: I will never get down to inbox zero, and I will never cross everything off my to-do list. But it’s okay. What needs to get done gets done. Eventually.
How has your business evolved since you launched?
JG: I thought our greatest challenge would be covering the world. It’s a big place. But we have covered more ground than I ever imagined. As a bootstrap operation, we have about $5 to spend on marketing, but we’ve developed our audience through word of mouth and creative collaborations. Fathom feels like a secret that readers want to share with their world-curious friends.
PR: The content we’ve created through social media—like Instagram takeovers from Cuba, North Korea, and the bottom of the ocean floor—was never part of the original plan.
What’s your personality at work in three words?
JG: Opinionated but relaxed.
PR: Enthusiastic. Perfectionist. Tornado.
When you were little, what did you want to be?
JG: An archeologist. And a Rockette.
PR: Doing something grand and fun in New York City.
When you “grow up,” what do you want to be?
JG: An anonymous philanthropist.
PR: I’ve felt grown-up for decades, but when I’m older, I want to be as curious as ever.
What do you wish you’d known when you first started your career?
JG: They are going to offer me “girl money.” Push for more.
PR: Exactly how many kinds of jobs exist. Photo editor? DJ? Stylist? These hobbies can be jobs?! It was a revelation.
If you could have happy hour with anyone, who would it be?
JG: Hemingway. It would be the longest happy hour ever, and somehow we’d end up in Cuba.
PR: Marco Polo. So we can finally settle that spaghetti rumor.
How would you spend your last day on Earth?
JG: Celebrating with family and friends. Preferably from a terrific vantage point overlooking New York City.
PR: A six-hour lunch in the sunshine at Lo Scoglio, my favorite restaurant on the Amalfi Coast. Corner table, lots of wine, all my favorite people. I die happy.
JG: Getting lost.
What’s your motto?
JG: Less is more, more or less.
PR: The perfect is the enemy of the good. (I trip over the perfect all the time.)
Photos by Lindsay Brown.