Are you thinking about starting a business? If so, we think you’ll enjoy reading about how these seasoned entrepreneurs thought about the question when they were in your shoes.

Annelise Blackwood | Photographer + Creative Consultant

I wanted autonomy to create whatever and be whoever I wanted to be. I feel like creativity is a fluid concept and to put myself in a box would stifle a lot of that inspiration and childlike curiosity that is needed to forage new ideas and concepts. So, I guess I started my company with the hopes that it would mold and change over time to really capitalize on the way my brain works! Read more>>

Anne Marie Liebman | Founder & Stylist, SheStylesCO

I’ve always had a significantly creative side, possessing that naturally creative eye. Art class was my favorite! Such enjoyment and entertainment from the show ‘Sex and the City’…the end of high school, beginning of college. Super inspired by Carrie Bradshaw. Her way of putting together the most unexpected pieces to create the most amazing outfits!
 I started getting into fashion magazines, paying attention a lot more. And I was exposed to a lot more of all of that in college – nicer things, bigger / designer brands. I began to to have a new appreciation for style—not only for me personally, but the fashion world overall. It became this fun thing for me, putting different, unique outfits together, unlike any other looks I’d seen, creating my very own style. Friends started coming to me asking about style advice – what should I wear to this? What goes with this? Read more>>

Brad Miller | Founding Partner

We saw an opportunity for our business when we looked at the current state of graphic apparel in Colorado, and didn’t see anyone designing the way we thought would best convey the Colorado lifestyle through colorful, quality-built products. We knew if we could partner with the right manufacturers we’d have the edge we needed. And since my partner and I are graphic designers, we have an advantage over other brands where maybe there’s a good business person at the top, but they’ll still have to find creative talent to design the products, not to mention the look and feel of the brand – we were able to set ourselves apart early on because the of the vision we were able to directly apply to our brand and it’s products. Design can be a big hurdle for a lot of companies, but we were able to nip these tasks in the bud right out of the gate. Read more>>

Allyce Cisneros | Event Planner & Custom Decor Designer

Starting my own business has been something that I have always thought about, but kept pushing aside because I have had a steady career in nursing for over ten years now and I also have two kids (one being just 11 months old) that keep me pretty busy. I always found excuses why couldn’t pursue my own business, but this year my friend Amber, slowly started asking for projects from me; as I am working on props for her photoshoots, I realized I really enjoy this and her clients enjoyed what I did, I can make something of this and have something to pass down to my kids. My husband was a huge supporter of pursuing this new ambition and has helped me start this business this year. I am hoping to build this into a successful business that my kids will one day be able to take over and enjoy for years to come. Read more>>

Amanda Sandlin | Artist & Writer

I always knew, even growing up, that I was not suited for the 9-to-5. That lifestyle doesn’t work for my personality and core values of solitude, flexibility, and creative freedom. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit but for a long time couldn’t figure out how it would manifest (lots of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick). I went to school for journalism and took a few different jobs in communications before I found a knack and love for graphic design. After working full-time as a graphic designer for someone else, I realized — hey, I could do this on my own — and jumped at the opportunity. I had no real safety net or plan, but I was young, a bit naive, and it worked out. Slowly my business morphed from graphic design to illustration, and now to primarily painting and some writing. Read more>>

Cassie Lopez | The Wandering Wagon A Mobile Bar Co.

My dad owned a restaurant so I grew up in the service industry. My first job was working for him as a cashier. Not only did I learn a ton about the service industry, but I also saw firsthand what it really means to own a small business, We lost my dad to cancer 5 years ago and he is definitely my inspiration, boy do I wish he could see me now. I am currently a teacher and I absolutely love it but I know that it is not my forever. I love craft cocktails, being a part of the fun, and going above and beyond for people. I knew I wanted to bartend weddings and events while bringing something super unique to them. Bartenders are often the only vendor that interact with everyone so I wanted to create an experience for every guest. I saw that horse trailer bars were becoming popular in other parts of the country and I knew I had to do it. I have a horse and I just thought it was the cutest idea ever. Read more>>

Ana Fanakra | Owner of Ana’s Norwegian Bakeri, LLC

I moved to America in 1999, right after graduating High School. In all the years I’ve lived here I’ve always searched for somewhere to purchase Norwegian style baked goods, but without any success. During this time I’ve made these things for family and friends, and perfected my recipes over the years. When Covid-19 hit I was working for a local entertainment security company as an HR Generalist, a position that was newly created. As so many others I was furloughed 50% at first, and then later laid off due to the event industry not having returned as of yet. I decided when I was first furloughed that I needed to do something that would add value to my life, and would help secure my family’s future, and felt inspired to start a Norwegian Style Bakery to serve others like me who have been searching for somewhere local to purchase this type of baked goods. Read more>>

Simone D. Ross | Founder & CEO

Angela Davis said “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” My thought process behind all of my businesses and philanthropic work, which are inclusive of Simone D. Ross Consulting, SDR Events, Youth Uniter University, and my partnership in S+V Partners is rooted in my passion for catalyzing change. The entities and organizations I’ve formed are in response to the overwhelming sense of accountability I feel to dismantle inequitable systems. Read more>>

Iliana + Leo Chea | Adventure Photo Booth Bus Owners

We have always been creative people and interested in working for ourselves, and we wanted to find a way to bring our natural skills together and use them to do something new and exciting that would bring joy to others. For years we always had so many ideas and would just talk about them in a dreamy way, and I guess one day we realized that we needed to go for it and there was something inside of us that wasn’t convinced the daily 8-5 grind was the way to live. We feel so inspired by the world around us and want to have as many experiences as we can, and pursuing our business idea fell in line with that, and there’s a different type of fulfillment that comes from owning + running your own business. We have each worked many different types of jobs, and we actually continue to work full time as we run our photo booth business, but we wanted to build something that was ours. Read more>>

Kari Sullivan | Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach

Quite simply, I do not like feeling constraints, restrictions, or limited in what I can or can not do. I started off in a corporate setting and learned quite a bit about how to run a personal training business, especially what it is that I would NOT do. In running my own business I feel free and inspired, like literally all of the time. Feeling this way allows me to remain in a flow state more often than not and that’s where the magic is. Read more>>

Kevin Petersen | Licensed marriage and family therapist, author, person in long-term recovery

You know, the truth of the matter is that I have never enjoyed working for other people. I’ve had some pretty cool people that I’ve worked with and that have been my managers, but at the end of the day I always knew I wanted to be in charge and to write my own script. I ended up leaving a very successful sales career in 2007 and going back to school in January 2008 at Regis University in Denver and graduating in August 2011 with a masters in marriage and family therapy. I knew I wanted to help people, and through the process of Regis I realize that what I really enjoy is working within the structure of a family system. And observing all the players and how they interact. I also wanted to be in charge of my hours, my income, and my dress code. And it’s important for me to be able to bring my Boston terrier Burt to work with me every day. Read more>>

Mallorie Porter | Salon Owner and Master Stylist

Doing hair has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. When I decided to finally turn my passion into a career, I knew I wanted to own my own salon one day. I knew it would take a lot of hard work to get there. I have been doing hair professionally since 2011, and I just opened my own salon in July 2020! I worked very hard to build my clientele up, and am always dedicating myself to continuing my education. When you are truly passionate about something and you put in the hard work, it pays off! Read more>>

Sarita Parikh | Co-Founder, glow + gather

glow + gather took root in 2009, when my life was uprooted. I was diagnosed with epilepsy (which had been undiagnosed since childhood) while leading an otherwise healthy life. It was at this point that my seizures had become more frequent and severe. As a pediatric physical therapist, I had spent years working with children with severe medical conditions such as epilepsy and knew the toll epilepsy can take on a career and personal life. My diagnosis forced me to slow down, create self care rituals, connect with nature, and value the support and love of friends and family. My unique perspective, as both healthcare provider and patient, emphasized the need for better natural products, without synthetic ingredients or fragrances that often trigger reactions, while also being indulgent and affordable. Read more>>

NANCY VAHLING | Psychic, Artist & Yoga Teacher

The thought process behind starting my own psychic business was not really a thought at all, it was a grateful falling into. I had been teaching yoga and started reading some oracle cards occasionally for anyone that would let me. It has just taken off as a business from there and I couldn’t be more thankful to my clients and the universe for letting me do something I love. I adore sitting with people, talking about their stories and looking into the future. Imagine Akasha means looking into the future and imagining the best possible outcome. Read more>>

Zach Rabun | Brewer

Coming out of college, I got a job with Coors. For the most part, I was driving around a forklift and homebrewing for those years. I got an offer to become a manager and have a nice position at Coors. However, I knew that I wanted to be brewing and the type of brewing I wanted to do wasn’t an option at Coors. I left and got a brewing job at Elk Mountain Brewing in Parker, CO. Parker was a cowboy town and Elk Mountain was the only craft beer producer in the area. So, our main job was being an ambassador and educator to the craft beer scene. I became a much better technical brewer in my time at Elk Mountain but it still wasn’t the brewing I was truly passionate about. I left Elk Mountain and attended the Siebel Institute in Chicago to get a formal brewing education and really explore the possibility of opening my own brewery. Read more>>

Deb Henriksen | Sustainable Fashion Designer

I experienced Executive decisions in my career regarding promotion opportunities that did not speak to my interests or passions. I found myself feeling depressed and unhappy to go to work, until I began the process to create my own business. I felt inspired and motivated with endless energy to figure out my business idea, research the steps to put it motion legally, and develop my Company’s first business plan to birth its creation. I think the reason this lifted my up is because I gained control of creating my future when it wasn’t moving toward the direction I wanted it to in my career path. In my life, I have noticed having a strong sense of where I want to go and how I want to get there. I work to be in touch with my passions in life and have made strategic career decisions to pursue them with integrity. Read more>>

John Alex Vespa | Head Bushwhacker and Founder

My thought process behind creating Bushwhack Life was a simple question I asked myself, “how do I incorporate positively impacting the environment and my love for animals?” After years of professionally training and caring for pets and a stint at soap making I found myself missing the creative outlet that the soap making had given me. So I started off making an organic toothpaste for myself and my own dogs. I quickly realized there was nothing like it on the market and it took off from there. Read more>>

Chrystal DeCoster | Owner / Proprietor / Curator of Western Stars Gallery & Studio

Western Stars Gallery & Studio opened in November of 2015 — after the flood & because of the flood of 2013. The building at 160 East Main in Lyons became available at the last minute & I, with two other women, decided to open a place to celebrate artists / artisans of the region whom we considered to be “stars of the west.” Studio spaces, residences & art-outlets were diminished because of the flooding & we wanted to provide a place where we could get money in the pockets of artists. Read more>>

Paulette (Pennie) Gaudi | Owner a Borgata

My family have been running their own businesses for years. We lived on a Ranch in California and watching my dad run a business and how to handle situations got me into retail. I have worked in a few Great company’s in the past that set me up for success. So I knew before I was 50 years old I wanted to have my own business and life presented itself an opportunity when I was 49. a Borgata was born. I knew I wanted to offer a place where Artists and Craftspeople could showcase their wares and not be over priced for rents and Commissions. I started with a small store 1300 Sqft and went out and recruited some folks that wanted to join the a Borgata family. After 3 months I had 25 people interested and set up in my store. After a 1 1/2 I need a bigger place and moved to the store I am at today which hosts to over 250 Artists and Craftspeople and 5,000sqft. Read more>>

Jacqueline Allen | Pinup Photographer & Owner of Femme Fatale Denver

I actually started in corporate. In that environment I personally we were all seen as replaceable, and that did not sit well with me. I did not want to sacrifice my life and happiness for just a paycheck. SO I looked at what my skillset was and what the market was lacking, and started my first business from there. I think the key is to figure out your strengths and how you can apply them to the current market. For me, my first business was a Pole Fitness Studio in Ohio because I could tell women wanted to try something new in the world of exercise. My current business is a Pinup Photography Studio in Denver, when I moved here there was nothing like it. I actually had been offering pinup in Ohio, so when I saw there was a hole for pinup in the Denver market, I filled it. Read more>>