In November 2017, just three months after they got married, Alex and Meredith Zimmerman quit their jobs in Charlotte, North Carolina, and moved to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Their plans were vague, but their ambition and sense of adventure were anything but.
“We were the first ones of our friends to get married,” Alex recalls. “We’re gonna move somewhere cool. Just to try it out. If it doesn’t work out, we can move right back and pick up where we left off.”
Well, things are working out just fine.
Alex BSES ’14 owns and operates Fishwater Charters, an aptly named offshore fishing charter business (that also references a song by Athens’ own Widespread Panic), while Meredith BBA ’15 has turned her photography hobby into a fast-growing career.
“In that first year, we didn’t know where we were going,” Meredith says. “But we started meeting people, and—for me, at least—it started with businesses asking me to take photos and friends asking for pictures. And then someone gets engaged, and it all snowballed.”
The Zimmermans’ selection of St. Croix wasn’t random.
Alex’s mother earned her scuba certification there, and the couple came to the island on their honeymoon. They’d visited several other Caribbean islands in previous years and they were drawn to St. Croix’s more-leisurely/less-touristy vibe.
But there are still some tourists. And a lot of weddings and a lot of elopements. And that’s where Meredith established her niche.
Alex helps too. Meredith estimates that he’s officiated some 30 St. Croix weddings. But, of course, that’s not his main job.
Alex started as a deck hand on a friend’s fishing boat. He made a nice steady income while also learning the nuances of the business. In 2021, he took the leap, purchased his own boat, and hired his UGA roommate and best fishing buddy Cameron Spears BSFCS ’15 as first mate. It’s been smooth sailing ever since. Meredith, who majored in marketing at UGA, helps with promotion and running the website.
While on land, Alex works part-time with a neighbor’s environmental consulting company. He contributes to projects ranging from native plant breeding and endangered species protection to reforestation and sustainable farming. For the UGA environmental economics and management major, it is a passion project.
“Since I’m a fisherman, I have all these extra scraps after I clean the fish,” Alex says. “Recently, I’ve been making a fish fertilizer with the remains, and I’m excited about delving deeper into that.”
Meredith’s new projects are bit cleaner, perhaps, but no less exciting.
In the five years since establishing her business, she has become one of the island’s best known—and busiest—photographers. While she still has vibrant wedding and portrait work, Meredith also recently branched out into brand photography, promoting St. Croix businesses and even some travel and leisure photography for local hotels and travel publications.
“I’m just trying to do what I can to bring St. Croix to the rest of the world,” she says. “You know, show off our little island.”