We asked some of the city’s rising stars to reflect on what made a difference in their journey. We asked them to tell us about what they think the most important factor has been behind their success.

Leslie Brocksmith | Aesop Studios Founder and Head Strategist

Aesop Studios creates story-forward brands and marketing for thoughtful Realtors and industry professionals. I find success when I am able to connect with agents who have a heart-centered business and a strong “why” behind what they do. When creating brand identities and strategies, the brand elements should tell the business’s story, and that’s why I take the time to connect with my clients and do a deep dive into their business goals and their unique value propositions. Read more>>

Sami Tansel | Wedding Photographer & Content Creator

For me, the biggest factor for my success would be putting myself out there. I grew my photography business from nothing in the past 3 years, and one of the biggest driving forces was social media! It was scary to show my face and do things that other photographers weren’t doing yet, but now I am a full time wedding photographer shooting weddings all around the country! In addition, I create content for brands in the influencing space due to the following I’ve gained along the way. If you don’t put yourself out there, you’re missing out. Point blank. The worst thing you can do is fail…and then you just try again! Read more>>

Krista Lockwood | CIRQULAR Performance Art Director

The most important factor behind our success is teamwork with vulnerable leadership. I am the director of CIRQULAR Performance Art. We are a group of 6 circus artists that showcase our variety of talents by creating collaborative choreography. Throughout my 7 years of performing career in Fort Collins, Colorado I have had the experience of being a member of many performance troupes that never quite made it to be successful. Read more>>

Danielle Damrell | Bestselling Author | Podcast Host | Creative Director

The most important factor behind my success both personally and professionally has been to prioritize processing my present reality through the lens of both my past, present, and vision for my future. What does this look like, you may ask? Well, it looks different for each and every person. As a creative by nature, creative processing has been the most important contributing factor to my success. Creative processing is a tool that activates one’s creative mind in an intentional way. This processing method leads to clarity, joy, renewed hope, and deep-rooted healing. Read more>>

Kate Marley | Sex & Relationship Influencer, Entrepreneur

Authenticity. From the very beginning of our brand we have not been willing to sacrifice ourselves or our authenticity for anything. Our personal brand and our product line have all grown with its own authentic soul. I think that when a brand grows because it wants to be like another brand it is limiting itself to what it’s capable of. If you’re constantly looking at what someone else is doing you can’t focus on what you want to be doing or your strengths. A lot can be lost from not following your heart and inspiration, but following another’s instead. Read more>>

Ryan Mayiras | Owner & CEO at Candid Studios Photography & Videography

The most important factor behind my success is my determination and drive. When I was 16 years old I was emancipated from my parents and this drive developed as a sink-or-swim methodology. I have always pushed and strived for more. This ambition has helped our company succeed. It was never really a question if we would succeed, but how we would succeed. We developed and tested different methods to obtain our goals. This has probably been the most important element to our brand’s success. Just never giving up and to always keep pushing forward. Read more>>

Ipecac | Rock Band

We’d say the most important factor behind our success is our unique product in the Denver/Boulder market. From our sound to our look, there are not many bands doing what we do, but because of what we do, we’re fortunate to be able to cross genres and play with a ton of the different, amazing acts that are relevant in the local scene today. For example, we consider ourselves heavy alternative rock, but we can also fit in with the amazing local punk and pop punk scene that’s so huge right now. Or we can fit in with the metal scene as well. Its great! Read more>>

Boyd Sweeney | Swing musician/bandleader of The Moldy Figs

I believe that my success as a musician is due, in part, to the relationships I have built with those in my community and the culture of acceptance and positivity that I value and foster. The venue owners, staff, and guests that we are privileged to perform for, as well as my incredible bandmates, know that they will always be treated with respect and kindness. We just happen to also put on a great show! Read more>>

Jan Chodkowski | Head Brewer/Owner

The most important factors that have made Our Mutual Friend Brewing and myself successful are having great business partners and employees who all want to work together to create the best possible beer and brand we can. Without the support of others it would be impossible to be as creative and quality driven as Our Mutual Friend Brewing has been. The help from brewers and owners from other breweries has been invaluable as well. Read more>>

Rev. Nova Maddux | Witch, Herbalist & Psychic Medium

Authenticity, by far. Being face to face with so many people gives my the opportunity to really express my authenticity, passion, and experience when it comes to reading the Tarot, Herbalism and Witchcraft as a whole. The Coven of Cosmic Redemption, as well as Ragana’s Hut both strive to be our most honest selves, so people can have a true experience for themselves. Read more>>

Billie Groom | Expert in Canine Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CEO UPWARD Dogology

My success is the result of taking my own career journey that began with a mission grounded in animal welfare, and ended in the creation of a methodology that saves the lives of hundreds of dogs every year. I had no intention of becoming a canine behaviorist, but rather, wanted to address the challenges faced by adopters, rescuers, and dog parents with dogs in the adolescent stage (8-20 months approx) and dogs with disadvantaged pasts. Three decades ago, I started taking in dogs over six months of age, and through them, learned a methodology for effectively addressing behaviors commonly leading to surrender or euthanasia. Read more>>

Yana Mertz | Hairstylist

I individualize and customize each client time in my chair. They are my sole focus and I always try to make their experience special. It is not just about hair, it’s a whole experience of meeting new person and getting to know them, designing their new hair, and making them feel good about themselves. The amazing thing about being a hairstylist is forming some unique relationships. I am always so incredibly humbled and honored when clients choose to share their story with me. To those who read this who have shared, thank you. You’ll never truly know how much it means to me to have earned your trust in that way. To those who read this who have yet to sit in my chair, thank you for considering me! Read more>>

Ray Villares | Designer / Craftsman

I have had a collection of businesses over the years. One thing I have learned is to start small, learn and calibrate quickly. It’s not about overnight success. It’s about finding one aspect of the business that will give you enough lift to get you off the ground. It’s about keeping the emotional connection to the brand tamed so you can remained hyper-focused on optimizing the business. Read more>>

Addison Herron-Wheeler | Co-Owner and Editor-in Chief

The most important factor behind the success of OMF (outfrontmagazine.com) is inclusivity. We were founded 46 years ago by a gay man with the idea of being a space for queer folks, and since then, we’ve stuck to that message and so much more by including an intersectional approach that supports trans folks, women, people of color, and all marginalized groups. The more inclusive we become, the more people see themselves in our pages and want to work with us, whether that means advertising, being featured in a story, writing for us, or inviting us to have a seat at the table. Read more>>

Marie Sexton | Author

Honestly? Luck was probably the most important factor early on. I was incredibly lucky that my first book was published at a time when Kindles were new and digital publishing was booming. It also happened to be at a point when my genre (gay romance) was first becoming popular and readers were desperate for new content, and my first book happened to contain a lot of tropes that were popular at the time. Read more>>

Aubrey Houdeshell | Astrologer and Tarot Reader

Authenticity and transparency. I started building my business right before the pandemic and lockdown hit in May 2019. Due to the circumstances surrounding what life has looked like since then, social media is really the tool that has enabled me to reach a vast array of people and build my client base since then. That said, this is very much my first time running a business, so there’s a perpetual learning curve. Read more>>

Jessica Bystricky | Beauty and the Babes

The most important factor behind the success of Beauty and the Babes is our team. Without my amazing artists, my business would not be where it is today. Read more>>

Julie Speetjens | Soaring Heart Energies – Karuna Reiki Master Teacher, Certified Medical Reiki Master, Psychic Medium, Program Director for LifeSpark Cancer Resources

As the Program Director for LifeSpark Cancer Resources, a volunteer Reiki Provider at UC Health Memorial, a holistic healer, and an intuitive artist, integrity is everything. I hold myself to the highest standards of compassionate care, and I am a perpetual student. The focus has to be on service through unconditional love, and there is no room for a wounded ego or competition in the work I do. Serving LifeSpark Participants, my clients, and patients in the Outpatient Infusion Center requires a selfless dedication to honoring people on their healing journeys. Every day, my success depends on my confidence and trust, and my ability to help people heal themselves… to see them in their best light and help them tune into it. Read more>>

Bonnie Schutz | CEO | Sr. Admin Recruiter | Virtual Executive Assistant

The most important factor behind my success is my ability to connect with others and establish trusted relationships. I believe in integrity and in being ethical. I value “people.” I value my connections. I believe this is what has catapulted me into becoming a successful business leader in my industry and the growing recognition and edification of my brand. Read more>>

Chad Poppleton | Artist / husband, father, and Rancher

I think that the most important factor in any success is vision, a good product, and integrity . When I think of branding I think about a brand on cattle. The difference between a livestock owner and a Rancher is very simple. A livestock owner has stock that may not represent them but, rather their efforts are centered around adjusting themselves to the livestock. They work around the livestock that doesn’t represent them. A Rancher has livestock, usually land, equipment, and most especially a life centered around their existence. Read more>>