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Meet Stephanie Barneburg of Sparke Freshness in Carlsbad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Barneburg.

Stephanie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far
Before creating Sparkle Freshness, my husband Mark and I worked hard for different large Corporations for over 20 years. During that time we developed business skills, a threshold of high standards and best practices that helped us be our best in our perspective fields. Although rewarding when we looked into the future, to create a life that would be worth living and that would make us happy, we knew we had to work for ourselves. We just knew that if we put in all the hard work, blood sweat and tears, sacrifice, energy and time as we had put into our current jobs we would be ok. No doubt building a business is tough and it takes time to see the fruit of your labor pay off. Most importantly most start-up businesses fail. For us, there was no question we knew it would be worth it in the end. We started having conversations about what we could do that would allow us to build a business and work at night and allow us to be present and available for our kids during the day. Although business is your baby the children we wanted to have was going to be our top priority. Mark said, “ what about cleaning, you have experience “. When I was in high school I had worked for my mom’s best friend on the weekends. She had a commercial cleaning business and I was groomed at that young age about looking at details and performing at a high level. A lot of those best practices she taught me I still use to this day. I also had five years of experience working for Hyatt Hotels, as a Senior Front Office Manager. There, I got to oversee different departments as the manager on duty every night including House Keeping. It was a perfect idea.

At the time we start our company I was a VP in the mortgage industry for a major bank. Every day I would come into my office and it was never cleaned properly. There was a cleaning company that came in three days a week and it wasn’t me being picky they just didn’t clean properly. All they seemed to do was empty my trash and clean the restrooms and sometimes not that well. My desk and computer monitor always had fingerprints and dust on it. After a while, I would see my makeup and smudges on the telephone and keypad. That same spec of dirt, dust bunny or trash I would see laying around would stay on my floor for weeks until I picked it up; even though they said they were vacuuming. To make matters worse, sometimes I would throw things that leaked or clients would throw out their gum and it would stick to the trashcan lining. Sure enough, a week would go by before that liner would be replaced. I used all these frustrations and lack of integrity and created a company to think like my clients, put myself in their shoes and pay attention to the details.

Why Green? Fast forward a bit and I had just given birth to our first son Gavin who was born 3 months premature at 26 weeks gestation. Luckily we had a miracle baby who we got to bring home after 105 days in the NICU. A month before bringing him home we had conversations with his Pediatric Neonatologist about our home environment and the importance of keeping it clean and safe for him to be in. Since he had preemie’s lungs, the slightest infection or illness could land him in the hospital and if he had any respiratory complications it could even lead to death. Without question, we took this very seriously. We came home one day to get started on sanitizing our entire home from top to bottom with the intention we would make it cleaner than the NICU Unit he was living in. While looking under the kitchen sink for glass cleaner, we decided to take an inventory of our cleaners. After performing exhaustive research, I was surprised to find several harmful ingredients in all of the cleaning products we had. All the ingredients were poisonous and toxic that causes asthma, cancers, chemical burns, VOC, death just by inhaling the toxic fumes, and POP’s. I then thought to myself wow not only is this doing harm to us but our environment and the dangerous effects it’s having on our sea life and our oceans. To be honest we had all the common ones I grew up using; Clorox, Comet, Lysol, Windex that has Ammonia and Bleach. Mark immediately gathered all of them and put them in a box and threw them out. We didn’t want any of these chemicals near our son. I then asked myself, “ Why would we want to work with, or expose our employees, clients and environment to these toxic chemicals?”. For me, at the time I didn’t understand what “green” really meant. That you could clean just as effective with other products that are plant based, bio based and safer choice. I knew from that day going forward it was my job, our job as a company to educate our clients of why green is so important. I don’t use it as a marketing ploy. Everyone should know the dangers of what they can and can’t see when using toxic chemicals.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are always challenges and obstacles in starting any business. You can’t avoid them. The best you can do is learn from your experiences and have structures in place to overcome them. One of the challenges we have is that it is what we are so committed to our clients it’s hard to say no at request or problem that comes up in the middle of the night. Mark has been out on many occasions at 3 am handling problems in the field. Yes, we could create an on call shift or have our supervisors out on a later schedule however we just don’t want our employees out that late for these situations.

Tell us about your company. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
Sparkle Freshness is a full service janitorial cleaning company with our primary focus being sustainability. We specialize in post construction cleaning, final cleaning, office cleaning and commercial cleaning. Our sustainable mission is clear; we need to offset our carbon footprint no matter how big or small your company is and there are things you can do at home. Our goal is to have two million trees planted by 2024.

We are not like everyone else. Our mission is that people experience joy, connection and purpose. Why would that be important to you or why would you care? We educate our clients on safer practices that you cannot only use in your office but at home. Most people are not aware of the harm they are ingesting and working in daily even worse having toxic chemicals in your home to clean that is presenting harm to the ones we love the most. We don’t want to just be the best cleaning company in the market. Our intention is simple we want to inspire change across the globe and be a contribution to others. We would love for everyone to have some passion for their health, saving toxic chemicals from going into our oceans and being able to have drinkable water across the globe. Now that might not be your mission or your cup of tea, and that’s ok. We’ll still love you anyway! This is our contribution to the world and when you choose us you’re a part of that mission.

We just don’t start strong and never hear from us unless there’s a problem. There is constant communication between me and our clients and their growing business needs. We started our business where we wanted to have things clean with a high level of standards. That has spiraled into something we didn’t even think of. We’ve created a company that’s number one focus is on your health, the safety of others, making a difference with our employees through training and development, community and impacting the world through education. Not only are we using non-toxic chemicals to clean with, but we are also constantly adding and updating our sustainability platform as new technology and information becomes available. There’s a lot that sets us apart from other cleaning companies. The one we’re most proud of is that we have trees planted in each client’s name to offset our carbon footprint. For every client we have, we plant 50 trees in their name. Sparkle Freshness will then have another 100 trees planted in the companies name plating a total of 150 trees per client. We partner with the Canopy Project who’s the goal is to have 7.8 billion trees planted by Earth Day 2020. There are many benefits of planting trees. Trees provide food, energy and income to help communities achieve long-term economic and environmental sustainability. Trees also filter the air and help reverse the impacts of climate change. In just one year, a mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen as ten people inhale!

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
You don’t have to be a billionaire to have success or to be considered successful. I define success as living true to who you are, being aligned with your values and beliefs and any triumph over any past failures. Looking at those failures powerfully and not let it bring you down. I view failure as a good thing. Without failure, there’s no growth. Without growth, there is no success.

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Image Credit:
Family photo- Top Shelf Photo

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