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.

Kirstie & Christine | On Airplane Mode

When we were traveling in 2019 we started noticing a flood of messages from the LGBTQ+ community asking us how we did it, if it was safe to travel as a queer individual, and how they could pursue their passions too. We started our platform from the ground up to empower women and the LGBTQ+ community to have their voices heard especially within the means of travel. In under two years, we are proud to have built an engaging and loyal following, success across multiple social media platforms while being recognized across multiple media outlets. Read more>>

Shea Gerhardt | Founder/CEO Buderflys

Buderflys was founded on the slopes at Steamboat Springs after I realized that no earbud could fit comfortably in my ear for an entire day of skiing. I was not the only one feeling discomfort. After researching, over 95% of earbud users experience pain or ear fatigue after 45+ minutes of wearing. There was a need. So I invented Buderflys, a high-end, premium sounding earbud made with a proprietary squishy material that flexes with the ear’s movement as we talk, chew and exercise. Read more>>

Rexford Brown | Educator, writer, gallerist

I didn’t start a business. I designed, and ran, an inner city charter school, offering a non-traditional school culture, a-non traditional curriculum, and non- traditional forms of teaching and learning. If I have to give my thought process a name, I would say I tend naturally toward being a dialectical thinker, but sometimes I’m not. My thought processes in this particular case evolved over many years of writing about student achievement patterns for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), now known as “America’ Report Card.” When I saw that Basic Skills in reading and writing were slowly rising nationally, but performance of higher order skills such as critical thinking, complex writing, and deep understanding, was plummeting, I decided to look into the apparent paradox. Read more>>

Laura Tidmore | Owner

On Board Denver was born out of COVID! My family relocated to Colorado from South Carolina during the pandemic (because, why not?!). I am a former teacher, but wasn’t ready to return back to the classroom with so many unknowns. Sure enough, my oldest daughter was on a hybrid schedule and I had to step in as her “in person teacher” three days a week. I absolutely love teaching, but teaching my own children just isn’t in the cards for me. I began to think about starting my own at-home business. Aside from a teaching degree, I have a degree in Interior Design and an affinity for browsing Pinterest and Instagram for “pretties”. A self-proclaimed foodie, I came across beautiful charcuterie boards and it hit me. Read more>>

Aaliyah Lachel’e | Illustrator & Entrepreneur

I have been drawing for years— literally for as long as I can remember. Growing up, people would ask me if I could do little pieces for them, or if I could make characters that looked like them or their kids. Every once in awhile, one of my parents’ friends would ask me for a project. They’d pay me for something like a 11×19 portrait and would post it on Facebook. As I got older and my artistic abilities developed, we realized more and more people wanted to commission me. We also noticed that more and more people wanted to pay me. So, my mother figured, “Why don’t we put a name to what you do?” We started an Instagram account, started up a website, and began PeanutbuddarArt. Read more>>

Andrea Mangione Standish, BS, CCLS | President and Founder, Certified Child Life Specialist

Healthcare is meant to heal, yet the healthcare system may impede health and healing and healthcare delivery can cause trauma. If you walked into any hospital in the world, you would see that pain is universal and children are suffering needlessly. Parents and healthcare providers want to help relieve children’s pain and anxiety, but don’t always know how. When I became a certified child life specialist, it became my passion to find ways to minimize children’s suffering. Year after year, I met patients, families and healthcare providers who wanted to do the same thing. In an effort to organize individuals, maximize resources and make the biggest impact, I started a non-profit organization, Standish Foundation for Children. Read more>>

Molly Malarsie | Realtor & Authentic Gal

I think overall this is a difficult question to choose only one answer to, and I certainly do not want to fluff it up past the point of reality. However, if I had to, I would boil it down it would be the desire to be in control over my time, my situation, and my worth. I also, genuinely wanted to help clients make, what at face value can be a stressful situation, a much less stressful one. I think that entrepreneurs, especially those that succeed, are often the most attached to their ” why.” Meaning, when no on is telling you to get up in the morning and go to work, there has to be some deeper self motivation to do so. And likely, they genuinely want to help people. Freedom of time, money, priorities, and the ability to care for my family is what drives me on a daily basis. Read more>>

Bruna Piaui Graf | Founder

Working in a Brazilian Steak house back 2017, made me realize that everyone was in love with cheese bread once they tried . I could not find any at the grocery store . I thought to myself that this would be a great business to start. Having no money and experience I studied a lot . I doubted myself a lot but I am very stubborn and love challenge myself. I told myself to give a try because otherwise I would regret latter. Read more>>

Taylor Longcrier | Wedding and Elopement Filmmaker

When I was younger I would dream extremely big for what I wanted my life to be. Some would say I was even a little overly ambitious. I never knew exactly what it would look like though. My dream once I graduated high school was to go to college, do something in the medical field, and show everyone that I could create a life that I wanted. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford college and I lasted one semester. From there I was lost, but still dreaming. A couple of years later I bought a camera to originally start making YouTube videos, but then I stumbled on an opportunity to set up my camera during a friends wedding ceremony. I told her “Hey. I’ve seen these videos that people make, I bet I could do that if you want me to try.” I had no idea what I was doing but the rest is history. I stumbled on a passion for something that gives complete control of my life, and it’s everything I could of hoped for as a kid. I never thought it would turn into what it is today. Read more>>

Lily Cain | Professional Artist

I have always wanted to be an artist, from when I was very little to an adult I’ve always been interested in a visual language. Throughout school I took art classes, double majored in art and then attended the Royal College of Art in England to receive my Masters of Fine Art. When you are going through the process of academia, you learn to be a certain type of fine artist. Lets call it “The Traditional Artist”. As a Traditional Artist, you learn to build a portfolio of work, fine tune your craft and technique, and mature in your ideas – creating your own lexicon of visual language. Read more>>

Karina Branson | Graphic Recorder & Facilitator

You know when you see something, or try something, and it just clicks? That’s how it felt when I first saw someone graphic recording while attending graduate school at Colorado State University (CSU). They were creating a beautiful, colorful map of a dense scientific presentation while we all watched, and I was mesmerized. I always enjoyed art – in fact I pursued a major in art for a couple of semesters before deciding I “wasn’t good enough” and focusing on environmental science communication. Seeing this person bringing together three things I loved – art, science, and communication – into an interesting and informative visual map…well, I was hooked. It just felt right. Read more>>