Deciding to start a business is an unusual decision. It’s often considered irrational and yet for many it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. So we asked folks to think back to when they were starting their businesses and to tell us about their decision making process.

Mya Lillemoen | Content creator & entrepreneur

If I was to tell myself two years ago what I envisioned my business to be, I would have never been able to guess. This is because my business started senior of high school year as a sticker shop on Redbubble. I was so excited for school spirit that I started creating my own stickers for the University of Colorado Boulder. And then one thing led to the next. From outlines of my hometown state of Minnesota to Ralphie jumping over colorado, my designs grew. In less than two months I had over 100 different designs. This was about the same time as quarantine and Tik tok trends were popping off. Read more>>

Candy Harman-Langley | Partner

When I came to Colorado I was on a mission to just work for someone. Having owned my own business most of my life I was ready to slow down and have more balance in my life. When I started really learning this market/state and what was available for clients in the way of marketing companies I saw a real need for a strong boutique agency that offered all services in-house. Too many smaller agencies out source everything and the larger agencies charge way too much for their services which cuts out the middle to smaller companies. So my partner Kevin Davis and I started The Harman Media and Marketing Group! Read more>>

Pelle Jorgensen | CEO and Co-Founder

Global supply chains have historically been built on a fundamentally exploitative mindset, where the small get pushed, and pushed by the big, until all the profits and margins flow to the very end of the supply chain. And nowhere exemplifies this more than the food and beverage industry, where farmers and small producers struggle to make ends meet, while large multi-nationals sell their crops, whether it is cacao, coffee, corn, or any other ingredient sourced from developing nations. Read more>>

Jennifer Aragon | Co-Owner of Luna Bliss & Dental Hygienist

Luna Bliss all started with two sisters going through their own spiritual transformation of finding inner peace, finding clarity and wanting to tap into their own inner stillness. We started taking meditation classes, reiki classes, doing yoga and signing up for any wellness classes we could get our hands on. Having busy 8-5 jobs as a dental hygienist and a children’s therapist, we started to notice the benefits of self-care on ourselves. It became evident that self-care is so important at any age and in all aspects of the mind, body and soul. With our fast paced society it’s so easy to get lost in the everyday work grind and everyday demands of modern life. As it became more clear to us, we wondered “what if we could reach the right person that needs our help?” Read more>>

Pat Craig | Founder & Executive Director

I personally witnessed numerous healthy Lions and Tigers that were scheduled to be euthanized due to a lack of space, so I decided to make some calls to see if they could be placed in other institutions. When I discovered all of the other licensed institutions were experiencing the same problem, I decided to create a sanctuary for the animals that had nowhere else to go. Read more>>

Tiffany Feingold | Co-Founder and Director of Opportunities

Due to my own personal experience and journey, I saw a huge void for parents of neurodiverse learners and I felt an urgency to fill that void. The pain of watching my child struggle and feeling helpless and lost was a horrifying experience and was profound enough for me to walk away from a 25-year career to venture on my own. That was scary, but not as scary as not helping parents and finding a solution to bring our neurodiverse community together. I am humbled every day by what I do and the amazing parents and professionals I meet. They are the true heroes and I hope that I can give them peace, comfort, and a community that understands their pain and connect them with professionals who are willing and dedicated to helping. Read more>>

Jade Shebelski | Social Media Manager/Content Creator

Once upon a time, a little app called Instagram launched, which was created to share photos and captions to connect with like-minded individuals via the world wide web. At Instagram’s infancy, I ran a side hustle business selling vintage home goods and clothing on Etsy. I was such a nerd of stying the vintage wares and clothing that people were commenting on the posts (pre-DM Instagram feature) on if they could Paypal me and would I ship? Read more>>

Jae Jordan | Fashion Designer & Creative Director

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur growing up. I didn’t know what kinda of business I would have, but even then I knew I wanted to work for myself. In July 2018, I was half way through my bachelors degree in fashion design when my school announced they were closing their doors at the end of the year. I had to make the tough decision not to go back to school. However, I wasn’t going to give up on my dreams so I had to find a way to continue my studies and perfect my craft on my own. Creating a fashion brand was my way of doing that. In January of 2019 I officially started my business, Jae Jordan, LLC. Read more>>

Zach Cardenas | Musician, Photographer, Cinematographer, Producer

I was at a crossroads in my life and could either keep working warehouse jobs or take a chance on myself. I went to school and that was the start of a new path. I learned so much on how to create something from scratch. It has been a long path but now I have the knowledge and skills to not only book clients but also create photos and videos for my own music career as well. Read more>>

Meghan Van Vleet | Naturopathic Doctor

As a naturopathic doctor, there are not many work options in the state of Colorado besides starting your own business. There are very few truly integrative clinics. I have always wanted to do patient care, so working for a lab or nutraceutical company was not something I was interested in, although I have colleagues who have found this rewarding. And so…I found myself setting up shop. Read more>>

Liam Hye | Owner/Chef Jersey Cowboy

Essentially I got tired of working for other people. I have held almost every job in the restaurant industry and have trained under some fantastic chefs like Derek Seigfried and Dale Levitski but when it came down to it, I wasn’t all that happy following orders and pumping out dishes like a machine. Being a line cook for some time, I have seen how some great restaurants are run and I’ve been apart of some failing teams. This, coupled with my experience, has really helped me shape the way I envision my business to be run. Read more>>

Kory Nolen | Owner and Operator of Arsenal Auto Detailing

I actually stumbled upon the idea of starting a detailing business. In 2017 I financed a 2013 Mustang GT (black paint of course) and before i ever got it home, I stopped at the local Auto Zone to load up on various entry level detailing supplies. I always wanted a “race-car” growing up so finally having one was a dream come true i guess you could say. That being said, it had to be kept looking as perfect as possible at all times. Being in the military is stressful, especially being law enforcement. So, it was therapeutic for me to sit down and care for the Mustang. Fast forward 1 month, I had done a few close friends vehicles and during the final walk around with one of them it hit me. I started this as a relaxation time which has turned into a hobby/passion. I could make money doing this. Now, here we are today! Read more>>

Jessica Newton | CEO & Founder of Vibe Tribe Adventures

My thought process behind starting Vibe Tribe Adventures, honestly, was just to create a meetup where Black women could have sisterhood to hike together. I wasn’t thinking about a business per say. Matter of fact I had just launched my Project Development firm in the Engineering-Construction-Design-Build industry. After my first few posts about getting outdoors together, women from all over Colorado flocked into the meetup group. Channel 9 reached out to me, did a story and then NBC Nightly news flew in to do a story as well. Read more>>

Yuki Stauffer | Face 5 Acne Solution Center and Face 5 Skincare | Founder & Owner

I was a mother who was desperately seeking a solution to my three sons’ sometimes heart-breaking acne. I went through these trying years and experienced much of the desperation that so many other moms and dads have experienced themselves with their own children. Ultimately, I learned more than I ever thought possible, and came away with so many things that I want to share with others, and hopefully ease their own struggles with their children’s acne. The good news is that there is indeed hope for your child! Read more>>

Eric Faddis and Lauren Varner | Personal Injury Attorneys, Owners of Varner Faddis Elite Legal

We noticed how the “old” way of practicing law was rife with inefficiencies, a reluctance to utilize modern technology, and a resistance to change. So, we set out to form a new kind of injury law firm that emphasized innovation, “white glove service,” and a standard of excellence in everything that we do. We recognized that our clients are entrusting us with the incredible responsibility of effectuating justice on their behaves. That is not something we take lightly. We knew that we had to create systems and a culture that honors them and their experiences through time, attention, information, transparency, and the highest quality work product. We have sought to create a law firm that is rooted in integrity because that is who we are as people and our business is a reflection of who we are at our cores. We also wanted our personal style and ethos to be evident in our branding as a way of distinguishing ourselves the other law firms in town. Read more>>

Miss Zarah | Drag Entertainer

I think starting your own business can be a great thing. It does take a lot of work, dedication and self motivation. I think it is good for Drag entertainers to run their drag like a business, I have recently started doing this and I am learning so much and I am also able to do more with my Drag because I’m being more business minded. Read more>>

Robin Hall | CEO, Co-Founder and Community Builder

10+ years into an incredibly fulfilling and passionate career at Smartwool in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I received a phone call that I didn’t expect. Our parent company was moving our darling little mountain town brand to Denver. Faced with the decision of safely following my career to the big city or keeping our family with two young sons in Steamboat, we chose the latter. I didn’t know what to do with my career and an entrepreneurial friend (and now business partner) got two of us from Smartwool together and we started thinking. Read more>>

Renee Jones | Owner/Artist of Rey Creative Company

My husband and I were talking one day about our future, and it made me realize that if we were going to have kids one day, I didn’t want to be working full time, but I also didn’t want to be “just” a stay-at-home mom. I started working on my business this year in order to set myself up for the future, so that I can do this as a job once we have a family, or hopefully maybe even before then. Read more>>

Mandy Doolittle | Mom and Blogger at Campfire Travelers

Just like almost every business, ours was created to fulfill a gap. Jason and I had the unfortunate coincidence of starting our family in 2007. At a time when young families don’t often have much money, we were hit with my company closing its doors just after we had our first baby followed by a rough recession. Two years later, we were surprised with twins! Jason and I, as very active people, refused to allow our small to nonexistent budget to determine our lives and force us to sit at home all day. So we would pack up the baby and fill every second of free time by going hiking, exploring our state parks, taking advantage of free admission days to the zoo and museums, and so much more. Read more>>