We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Monserrat Macias | Founder & CEO

Ever since I can remember, I have been a natural leader. Whether I was put into leadership positions by teachers or coaches, or I took charge in situations. I have always been okay with taking charge and leading others. My professional career started at 19 with my first job at Chipotle. I was with the company for 5 years and worked my way up from a Crew to a General Manager in the span of 2.5 years. This was such a great accomplishment for me but it left me drained. I felt like I had no work-life balance, and to me that was extremely important. Although being in charge of my own store was a great accomplishment to me, I left the company after 5 years. This was in order to pursue a less demanding career. Read more>>

Margaret Hedderman | Startup Colorado Communications & Editorial Director

***Can we change this to “what was your thought process behind starting a podcast?” Since I’m not a business owner. *** At Startup Colorado, celebrating rural entrepreneurs through storytelling is part of our mission. When we looked at the most dynamic way of bringing founder stories to life, podcasting was the easy answer. I wanted to produce a narrative series that would transport the listener to each founder’s business – whether that’s a craft cidery on the Western Slope or a gravel biking event on the Eastern Plains. The entrepreneurial landscape in rural Colorado is incredibly diverse, bubbling up in unexpected places. Read more>>

Jamie Chihuan | Multidisciplinary Artist & content creator

Many artists consider their craft as a hobby. We might even devote hours out of our days to these processes but there comes a realization when we realize we could make a living out of doing something we love. That was my issue, I would work so many jobs just to hate every single one of them. I felt that my purpose in the world was to create and inspire others. I did not want to work for a boss who doesn’t even care for me or work with a team that sees me as less than them. Art gave me the opportunity to launch my own career, especially as a Latino. I had to think of making art as a business instead of a hobby. Read more>>

Trevor Michael | Musician

I worked in the banking industry for about 6 years before starting up the music business. I definitely had fears about the whole process going from something as structured as banking to music, which has no structure whatsoever. The most helpful part for me has been to create weekly habits. Not always sure that I’m following the right habits but at least it gives me something to follow. Read more>>

Chuck Thomas | Owner Chef of Munchies

I was running restaurants for other people making them millions annually and they did not care for their employees. Did not want to pay a living wage or care about furthering the employees knowledge and life quality. I wanted to change the restaurant culture for employees as well as bring my unique style of cuisine to the food scene. Read more>>

Erin Allen | Family Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care Provider

Working in healthcare over the past 20 years has been both rewarding and discouraging. The longer I worked within the conventional insurance based system, the less I felt like I was actually helping patients. I felt that the only way to so things in a way that I though would be most beneficial for my patients was to branch out on my own. Outside of the troublesome systems that keep patients from getting the time and care that they need. Read more>>

Dr. Erica Abraham | Chiropractor, Owner of Axon Health

We abruptly quit our jobs when the environment was becoming too toxic for us. We didn’t know what the next step would be and we had only a small amount of money saved up. We were at a crossroads: do we accept new jobs, or do we start our own business? Ultimately, the new job offers were at competing clinics and wanted us to sign non-disclosures. With the amount of time we were used to spending with each other, progressing to the point where we could hardly tell each other about our day didn’t seem to sit well with us. We started our own business. Read more>>

Kat Maxman | Tattoo Artist

I’ve been drawing my whole life and Art has always been extremely important to me. I knew I wanted to be a tattooer from a very young age and there wasn’t really another option in my mind. I had never felt more certain about anything. It was a lot of work to get things moving but I constantly set achievable goals for myself to always keep myself motivated. Read more>>

Tony Pestello | Owner of ifurnish

I grew up in Rural Minnesota involved in a family run furniture business. I have always loved to solve problems and help people. Kelly and I saw an opportunity to do just that in Summit County Colorado. we wanted our community and surrounding mountain communities to have an option for Fashionable Affordable Furniture and not have to drive to Denver. This started ifunrish. Read more>>

Halston Shannon | Brand Identity Designer

Like most creatives, this whole thing for me initially began as a hobby and form of self-expression. I didn’t intend to monetize my talents right away. I often volunteered to do many projects for free as a way to build up my portfolio and to develop my skills. It wasn’t until I started to experience many different requests from a variety of different people (especially the student organizations on my college campus of Florida Atlantic University) that I saw this craft take up a big chunk of my time. After talking to a few people who were already successful business owners and assessing what was best for me, I made the ultimate decision to take that leap and start a graphic design / branding services business! 7 years later, I have no regrets. Read more>>

Sean Maye | Attorney

I started a private solo law firm during the pandemic. I had been working in government for years, which was riddled with mismanagement and bureaucracy. When I started working from home at the start of quarantine, I was able to manage work on my own terms and my own schedule for the first time in my legal career. It helped me realiz the value of working for yourself. I wanted to be able to manage my own projects, on my own terms, and all the while allowing the ability to schedule time with my family as I needed. Read more>>

Kayla Derengowski | Beauty Suite Owner

When I first started my career in beauty, the norm wasn’t going out on your own. It was all about finding a salon to work for, getting paid minimum wage for a few years while building your clientele….THEN you MIGHT be able to make it on your own. After doing this for over half of my career, and experiencing a lot of the negativity the beauty industry can offer, I decided that there had to be something better out there for me. Working in salons where you’re just an employee, a money machine, a number…. Read more>>

Jenn Leonard | Birth & Postpartum Doula, Advanced Newborn Care Specialist, Parent Educator

Starting my agency was a labor of love. By building a team, not only was I able to support more families than I could alone, as a group, we have been able to support each other along the way and share ideas and information, which makes all of use stronger doulas. Living in Colorado Springs, we have a very high military population. As a solo doula, I received many inquiries from families whose doula had moved on because their spouse was military. Read more>>

Mercury Yaden | Professional Wrestler, Coach, and Promoter

Actually, I didn’t have much of a thought process as far as starting my own business goes. By this I mean I never sought to own my own business. What sent me down this path was the closing of Colorado’s top Professional Wrestling Promotion at the time, Fusion Pro Wrestling. I believed their exit from the Pro Wrestling landscape in Colorado left a hole in professionalism that needed to be filled. They ceased operations in 2009, and by June of 2010, I decided to take a shot at running my own promotion, founding New Revolution Wrestling (NRW), which is now Rocky Mountain Pro (RMP). Read more>>

Chayse Romero | Metalsmith & Small Business Owner

I’m Chayse Romero, the creative mind behind Frontera Silver. I found metalsmithing, or rather metalsmithing found me back in 2015 when I was studying in central Mexico. Once my eyes fell upon silver, stones, and flames of Sterling Quest’s metal shop, there was no turning back for me. It was love at first sight! Read more>>

Madison Meggison | Colorado Portrait Photographer

I was fourteen when I began taking photographs on my phone or by sneaking to use my mom’s point and shoot camera. Throughout the year my mom saved up money to buy me my own Nikon D3200 camera for Christmas, and I immediately started taking photos of anything and everyone around. This was the moment that changed everything because I went from taking photos on my iPhone to taking photos on a real camera. I began to fall in love with taking photos on a whole new level, and I was truly obsessed with the process of taking and editing photos. Slowly as I got better at the craft, I had friends and family reach out to have me take their photos. Then I began to hear from peers asking for my ‘pricing’. Receiving these questions allowed me to consider the idea of making money from my passion. From that point forward I decided that with continued practice and jumping into it, I could be a real photographer. Read more>>

Rebecca Light | Revved Up™ | Hot Sauce, Owner

My name is Rebecca, and I love hot sauce. I mean like I really really love it. It’s my favorite food group. When my friends and family started giving me bottles of hot sauce every occasion, I started to realize the problem with most hot sauces is that they are too spicy to taste anything but heat. And I am a foodie, I love flavors and my food. So one day when I was at a hot sauce convention with all of these other people who loved hot sauces as much as me, I was inspired to figure out my favorite peppers and flavors! When the pandemic gave me new opportunities, I decided to start my hot sauce business, Revved Up, focusing on flavor before heat sauces, and I’ve been living my dream ever since! Read more>>

Stephanie Borger | Makeup Artist

I really just always had a passion for makeup and wanted to still help people. I wanted to make a career change for awhile (I did sales for a private college to help students and International students study at the school). I just wanted to do more. I was board and burned out since I had done the same thing for 7 years. I never would have thought I would have become a makeup artist; I guess I didnt think I could do it. So, obviously doing makeup was the total opposite thing that I had been doing. I had been married for 1 year (I turned 40 that year) and told my husband I wanted to do makeup. Read more>>

Kalea Kulbe | Foot Zone Practitioner

Originally, I wanted to learn how to foot zone to help my family. Once I saw how much it was helping them and myself I knew I needed to share this modality of healing with anyone and everyone. Read more>>

Kristin Camfferman | Portrait and Family Photographer

Like a lot of new moms, I started my journey into photography by first taking images of my 3 girls when they were just little babies. I soon decided I had a lot to learn. I loved the idea of being able to tell stories through photographs; and began soaking up as much knowledge on the subject as possible. I dove head first into every class, online tutorial and YouTube video I could get my hands on. I spent the next few years learning and growing as a photographer using my own kids as practice subjects. Read more>>

Shannon Mello | Mixed Media Artist

Starting my own business has always been something I had in the back of my head. It would resurge some days, and begin to collect cobwebs on others. In 2020, I was in my tenth year teaching middle school art. After going on spring break, as most would know, we did not return due to the Coronavirus. My husband and I were both teachers at the time, with two young kids of our own. With the uncertainty of this new virus, we chose not to enroll them in school and to take the biggest gamble of our lives… Read more>>