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.

Ketchup / Kristin Kohl | Photographer

I graduated with a photography degree in 2008 from CU Colorado… and then moved to Vail with no idea what I wanted to do. I worked the restaurant industry off the bat for about five years until a good friend of mine convinced me to bring my old camera out to the dunes in Moab to take some motorsports photos… and that was it. It not only re-sparked my interest in taking photos but from that trip on I began to invest in new camera equipment – teach myself new techniques – and book paid photography jobs. Being able to book photo jobs that are based off of my creative control and getting paid to do it??? That’s heaven for me – and I’ve made so many new friends / clients along the way the last few years. I only want this photography career to get bigger and bigger… especially the motorsports genre aspect of it all. Read more>>

Kelly Turner | Owner / Designer / Rider

If you asked 18 year old me who was shopping in the mens clearance section of Zumiez, my answer would be to create badass clothing for women in skateboarding and snowboarding. Don’t get me wrong that is still 100% the case, but Lleky has evolved out of the absence of female support and product in the snowboard and skateboard industries. As a female who has been snowboarding most of their life, skating, and has been working in the industry for 10 years, there has always been minimal product in skate and snow shops for women. Just to break it down, it is common that women’s clothing fills a tiny corner in a shop and is usually at least 50% past season product. As an art student in college, I thought, why not design my own tees to wear. It wasn’t until a few years back that I fully realized, I wasn’t alone. Many girls in search of rad clothing and something that fits every body type. In addition to clothing, we host ladies skate meet ups around Colorado skate parks to encourage progression and support inclusivity. Read more>>

Nina de Zayas | Photographer & Creative Director

I launched From the Hip because I saw an opportunity to do something different as a creative business owner and believed that, with the right people, we could create a studio that was unique. Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I spent my adolescence and early adulthood working hard toward that goal with my education, earning an MFA, and teaching art at the collegiate level. That all constituted an important foundation in terms of being prepared to delve fully into entrepreneurship. I’ve half-jokingly said that From the Hip is a group of artists who are really good at running a business, but the truth is that a lot of the feedback we receive from our clients echoes that idea. People love their photos, but more than that, they love the experience of partnering with a reliable, professional team. 2. Risk taking: how do you think about risk, what role has taking risks played in your life/career? Risk is just another word for opportunity. Read more>>

Aleksis Baltmanis | Private Jeweler & Rare Good’s Curator

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, visions, and ideas from a young age. After working in the jewelry, art, and luxury goods industry for 15 years I knew I had found a niche that I liked and intrigued me. After gaining so much insight and knowledge, I knew I was ready to step out and do something on my own terms. At this point in my life, I knew that the only way to have your ideal work-life and fulfillment balance is to create it for yourself. Read more>>

Madison Lauterbach | Editor of Ms. Mayhem

I had the idea of starting Ms. Mayhem when I was in the middle of receiving my degree in journalism. I got tired of spending hours trying to find women in the alternative fields that I enjoy, like tattooing, skateboarding, graffiti and motorcycles. There was no one single place I could go to learn about women in those fields. Simultaneously, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be able to write the stories that I wanted to if I worked for an established media outlet. So I figured I would just have to create the type of outlet I wanted to see myself. Read more>>

Krissy Ostermiller | Founder + Owner, YA•YE Organics

I’ve always been passionate about food, sustainability, health and wellness. I grew up in the midwest and started eating plant-based when I was 14 years old, which was challenging because I was raised by my grandparents in a ‘meat and potatoes’ household. I read tons of books and started studying the theories of various doctors, nutritionists, food scientists and healers, as I was fascinated by the connection between food and the human body. I moved to Colorado to study environmental science at CU Boulder and was excited to be surrounded by like-minded people; but, I realized that even though Coloradans are known for our healthy lifestyles, we have little access to clean, organic foods that truly nourish our bodies when dining out or ordering in. So, I started YA•YE Organics to solve my own problems: As a foodie who’s always thinking about my next meal, I was struggling to find local restaurants and food services whose ingredients made me feel good – ingredients I could trust; I experienced a great deal of loss but was able to use plant-rich eating to improve my mental health. Read more>>

Bill Prewitt | Owner and Winemaker

I first started loving wine when I was a young boy in South Dakota when my grandfather would make Elderberry Wine on his farm every year. He would keep it in an earthen basement, and my brothers and I would sneak down there when he was on the tractor working the land, would take an old rubber hose, push it down in the wine, and of course take tastes from a barrel. I thought it was excellent. Flash forward 30 years, and I always wanted my own business and a winery and a vineyard was at the top of that. I have just super enjoyed making wine, and when I retired from the corporate world as a microbiologist, it was the perfect opportunity to do what I love. My wife, Christie, and I chose this location because when we were taking our son back to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, we saw the land with lake frontage water rights for sale, we were looking for a place for the vineyard and it was perfect. Now we have a view of Rocky Mountain Nation Park, a lake, and plenty of room for vineyards. Read more>>

Abby, Madi, and Lacey Rifkin | Triplet Food Enthusiasts

Starting Coastal Foodie started as an idea we kept saying to each other before we all left for college. We all are foodies and ever since we were little we would love ordering whatever we could on the menu just to see the presentation and how it tasted. It progressed to us following multiple travel Instagram accounts that had food highlights. This brought us to specifically going to places that were hyped up on social media for either amazing presentation of the food or amazing taste of the food. When we finally decided we wanted to use this passion of ours for food and sharing recommendations with our friends, we decided to create and Instagram account dedicated to our finds. What made our account even more unique was we went to different colleges at first that ranged from West Coast all the way to East Coast. This made foodie adventures that much more fun and we ended up growing our platform to the point now where we get invited into restaurants to promote their food in exchange for a meal and instagram post. Read more>>

Chaz Miles | Recording Artist, Film Maker

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Even as a kid selling lemonade or mowing lawns, I always wanted to be my own boss. So when it was actually possible as an adult I June’s on it. Read more>>

Caroline Brothers | Salon Owner + Artist

I came to a crossroads after working for other people for so long and trying a few new endeavors that just didn’t align with where I was in life. I worked around a few women here in Denver who had started their own really small businesses. I watched those businesses explode and thought to myself, maybe I could do that. I really wanted to provide space for people feel safe, feel good, be themselves, be creative and make a living. Read more>>

Ella Deane | Copywriter For Brand + Web Designers

Ever since I was little, I knew that I wanted to be my own boss, so I prepared myself through school to enter into the world of entrepreneurship. Once I fell into the online space and realized it was possible to run a business online, I knew that being able to work from anywhere in the world was perfect for me! Initially, I went into logo and website design but realized that wasn’t right for me. I wanted to use my experience in the world of branding and web design to help other creative entrepreneurs, so in July of 2020, I started offering virtual assistant services to female brand and website designers who worked online. I’ve been loving every second of it and since then, have transitioned into just offering copywriting services for these amazing creative women. Read more>>

Olivia Hoopes | Owner & Designer

I had never really planned to start my own business. I was just following my passion. When I started making cakes for other people, requests for my cakes started to snowball. All of my business is either referral-based or repeat clients. I guess you could say my business was created based on the demand for my cakes. It has definitely evolved over the years and now I have bigger plans for where I want to take it and how I want to grow my business even more. Read more>>

Allison St. John, MPS | Chief Learning Officer & Virtual Facilitator

The Remote Leader Project was born out of the sweet overlap between a world need and given strengths. As 2017 was coming to a close, I became acutely aware of the rising need for virtual leadership. Well before the 2020 pandemic, more and more individuals were being hired remotely as a special case and others were being allowed to work from home more frequently. Yet, these remote workers existed on the fringe of businesses’ every day life; they continually felt isolated and under utilized. I could see that the solution was the managers’ leadership style. I knew leaders would need a new, adapted skillset to navigate the virtual working realm and to maximize technology to create meaningful, virtual relationships. I could see this need and I also had the given strengths to lead, teach, and empower people. I also fully acknowledged that this challenge could not be tackled alone and found incredible alignment and complimentary strengths in Christina Rowe, fellow co-founder of The Remote Leader Project. Read more>>

Peter Pham | Marketing Consultant

When I started my business, there was a feeling of helping. I built my marketing company because I saw a lot of small businesses were struggling with understanding what marketing is. I made it a mission to help them understand that marketing is the backbone of their business. It is not advertising, but creating a brand that from the employees to the structure of the business itself portrays. I apply this same concept to my other businesses as well. Read more>>

Rylie Manross | Marketing & Branding Strategist

Ever since I was 13 years old, I knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur when I grew up. My parents enrolled me in a young entrepreneurship program and I started a clothing line when I was 13 years old. As I got older, my interests changed and my passion for the clothing line dwindled. However, the entrepreneurial mindset never left me and I continued to seek my next venture. Finally this past summer, after many months of quarantine and plenty of time to connect with myself, I decided that my true passion is great business. For the past 5 years I have been working with a variety of small businesses to develop a strong marketing system and process. It is something that I absolutely love to do and it gets me fired up in the morning. I started being more vocal about what I was doing at work on my social media and my friends and family members started to come to me asking for advice and help on creating their personal brands — many of them being real estate agents, consultants, speakers, musicians, and actors. Read more>>

Shannon Peter | Franchisor Owner and Operator, Store Owner and Operator

I have always wanted to own my own business. When I started looking at something, my husband said that there were coffee shops on every corner and you have to sell a lot of coffee to make any money. He then visited the Longmont Inta Juice during lunch and realized this would fit into our lifestyle and also provide something healthy and nutritious for our daughter. Our daughter at the time was a very high-level competitive gymnast and trying to replenish her calories she lost during a 5-hour workout was tough. Read more>>

Erik Martin | Drummer At Mosaic

Building a band is equal parts art and business, so you always have to find a happy balance between the two. When we started our band we had a passion to bring our favorite styles of music to life, while putting our own personal twist on the music. It’s vital that your band members are great business partners and great friends as well. Starting a band is such a unique business venture like none other. Read more>>

Ksena McCloy | Furniture and Home Decor Designer

I’ve always loved the idea of owning a small business. After college I owned a small landscape design business and always thought I’d go back to that because it was what I went to school for . But after having my family and playing around with paint in my spare time there was something that drew me to the idea that I could do something I really loved and enjoyed doing and make it successful. I loved breathing new life into things and seeing them transform into my ideas and how much people enjoyed what I created. Read more>>

Jesse Riley | Movement/Strength Coach & Chiropractor

I could say it’s no different than when most wanna start their own business. I just think my field of work could do better. When I originally felt that way it was more of a clinician-client relationship but what I inevitably found, as well, is working on the business aspect and managing people. Many graduates come out either excited or confused and inevitably arrive at confused regardless. There are no classes on finding your voice and your authenticity in grad school. We all just kinda look around and do whatever everyone else is doing. Especially in the field of chiropractic, there hasn’t been a lot of people to push the field forward in a progressive way towards more science and evidence-based care. Make no mistake, I’m starting the business to make a living and care for my family but I’d love to walk away saying I had a hand in changing the field of rehab and exercise along with changing how we communicate with the people in front of us. Read more>>

Regina Topelson | Integrative and Functional Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified LEAP Therapist

My son was born with severe food allergies to multiple foods. I had spent years reading food labels and navigating the food allergy landscape. One day, I was asked to consult with a family whose child was newly diagnosed with food allergies and so I decided to hone my craft and go back to school to formally learn about nutrition. Since starting my business I have pivoted to helping women who are breast cancer survivors to nourish, heal, and rebuild their bodies – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – through food and lifestyle. Read more>>

Carl Rand | Coffee Roaster

Back in 1982 I was trying to decide how I was going to stay in Durango. I was a chef at the time and running out of new ideas in that industry. It was tough to make a living in that profession in Durango and I wasn’t learning new techniques and knew I needed to move or figure something else out. A friend whom I had worked with on Martha’s Vineyard called me and wanted me to come back East in the summer and do pastries to sell to restaurants along with roasting coffee. Well I researched this idea of roasting coffee for a few years and decided to try this in Durango. So I kept my job a pastry chef and ski instructor while starting my business for 5 more years until my venture took off. I’m still at it in Durango 36 years later. Read more>>

Lizzy Brodie | Marketing & Branding Consultant

The thought process for me was “How can I make this more legit and more structured? And make an income from it?.” I was just ready to take myself, my brand and expertise to the next level. So, I leaned on my mentors and did a ton of research and started putting it all together. Read more>>