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.

Melanie Victor | Photographer

I started my own business, because it gives me the freedom to work at my own pace, on my own schedule. I never really thrived in a 9 to 5 environment, so running my own business gives me the freedom to work around other life events that come along. Read more>>

Jason Emmerich | Auto Shop Owner & Mechanic

I thought to my self, I’ve seen the process of service from greeting a customer, to fixing the vehicles, to payment and vehicle delivery. And when it comes to making a business out of fixing issues on vehicles, the technician is the main asset of that business. So I knew I could handle the main part of a shop (repairs) and I would just figure out how to right my own receipts, pricing, and create my own brand experience for the customer. I have always wanted to have my own auto shop so I figured, what the hell, it’s my turn. Then I started coming up with the name, logo, and so on. Read more>>

Bret Smith | Colorado Festival of Horror (COFOH) Co-Founder, Hex Publishers Copyeditor, Retired IBM Project Manager

After four decades of loving science fiction, especially “Star Trek”, and horror, and attending or volunteering at 10-20 conventions a year, I felt like it was time to put on my own convention! I had just retired after 34 years as an IBM project manager and was intrigued to build a new business more closely connected with my hobby. I worked with a couple of friends who are experienced in starting and running conventions to identify a niche in Colorado that was missing. It was horror, and thus the Colorado Festival of Horror (COFOH) was born. To get us off the ground, we worked with local and national artists on a coloring book to raise funds for our show, as well as selling logo T-shirts and pins at various conventions and shows. In spite of the pandemic postponing our convention for a year, we’ve never stopped building our online presence, working with sponsors, and connecting with special guests and creators to prepare for our inaugural show September 10-12, 2021. Read more>>

Erin Slivka | Physical Therapist, Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning

I really just wanted to provide the best care possible to my clients. The Health Care industry is largely influenced by insurance companies, thus sometimes the care you receive is tailored toward the greatest reimbursement possible from these insurance companies, not just toward the patient and their needs. Having my own business allows me the flexibility to allow the care needs of my patients to be the top priority. Read more>>

Cassandra Kronberg | Small Batch Baker

It started with a simple “Well, why not?” In 2020, Covid had left me without a job and extra time on my hands. I’m sure at least a few other new small businesses made their starts this way last year. I’d been in the food industry for ten years and had friends who ran small businesses but hadn’t really entertained the idea of ever having my own business. I had doodled empty storefronts with ideas of what could be in there but I hadn’t taken myself seriously with them. It honestly only took a week or so of thinking of the idea for it to really take hold. “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” -Buddah I sought advice from my small business friends and began researching all I could, testing recipes along the way. I knew I wanted to have fun and unique flavors , incorporating floral flavors, mixing te sweet and savory. More importantly using locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. Read more>>

Chris + Sarah Helms | Certified Parenthood Coaches

My husband and I realized this was an area in need of quality support! We found ourselves very caught off guard by how much our daughter impacted our relationship. Our old ways of connecting, communicating and resolving conflict didn’t seem to work anymore. When we went looking for support, we couldn’t find resources for partners transitioning to parents. We found ourselves wondering, “Why didn’t anyone warn us?!”. It shocked us even more when we started doing our own research. We found that almost 70% of couples feel a decrease in relationship satisfaction the second a child enters the picture. That’s such a large percentage! How in 2021, when we’ve needed it most, have parents survived without relationship support? Our brand, This is Parenthood, is a place for parents to get support for their relationship as they grow their family and navigate all the stages of parenthood!. Read more>>

Traci Dietrich | Food & Motherhood Blogger

Midwest Mash started out as less of a business and more of a hobby to keep me occupied after we moved to Colorado. It has slowly grown into more thanks to dedicated readers.I knew after I became a stay at home mom I needed a creative outlet, and that’s really when I poured my heart into my blog. Read more>>

Angie Grenz | Co-owner

My father has always owned his own businesses and I have always had a similar drive. When my husband became beer-obsessed and started home brewing with such great success, I told him we should start our own brewery. That was about ten years ago. And though it has been hard at times, and we have been broke at times, it has been fun and so rewarding to build something with husband that we can be so proud of and I don’t think I could ever go back to just working for someone else. Read more>>

Tiffany Smyth | Artisan

I started ArtsMyths in 2005 after my mother moved to southern Colorado. At that point we were doing custom murals, faux finishes, mosaics and my mother built stained glass windows in her studio down south. It was my job to bid jobs and do consultations for clients and designers. We had been doing this for years but I needed a work space and was intrigued by the Sante fe arts district and the first Friday traffic. I began making leather masks, leather and recycled fashion, mosaics, and anything else we could think of to display on first Fridays. Eventually the leather masks won the public’s heart as well as my own and in 2007 we moved to south Broadway and started attending the Colorado Renaissance festival. In 2009 I attended a wholesale Halloween show and the masks officially took over our lives. We added AZ and TX Renaissance festivals. Read more>>

Bethany McVay | Mom, Military Spouse & Entrepreneur

For many years, I had convinced myself that my career was on the back-burner due to my husband’s active duty career. We moved 6 times in 5 years and while my background and education are in human resourcing an opportunity presented itself. I finally realized what I thought my career would be was on hold, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a different career. I had been designing t-shirts and miscellaneous items for squadrons we had been part of for years. After a friend asked me to do some for her, I received positive feedback and support from our community so I decided to go for it and designed with Flare was born. Designed with Flare primarily designs for the niche of the fighter pilot community, but I aspire to extend my aesthetic to customers of all backgrounds. Read more>>

Jessica Robertson | Social Media Manager

My background is Special Education, and I’ve been working with people with disabilities for 16 years. As much as I love what I’ve been doing, Covid-19 refocused my priorities. As of March 19, 2020, the company that I was working for shut down their day-facility programs, and I, like many others, started working from home. For me, it was one of the best things that has ever happened. I began to take more care of myself. I woke up slowly, exercised daily, cooked healthy lunches, took multiple breaks, and started practicing meditation. I adored having my own flexible schedule and- other than Zoom meetings- being able to complete my work whenever it felt best for me. I started listening to myself, and the voice of dread that used to come to me every Sunday night before a new work week (before the pandemic) said. Read more>>

Julie Rothe | Evergreen Artist

As a teenager I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, called Endometriosis, that left me in constant pain. I sought woodworking to be a creative outlet to cope with the pain and depression I was living with. I had spent time collecting ideas of projects I wanted to try, and eventually started learning how to work with power tools. To my surprise, I had several friends encourage me to start selling my creations. Everything I made was simple and very rustic when I began, but with time I found myself lost in the artistic realm of modern, yet rustic designs. At the age of twenty-six, I had a major surgery that treated the symptoms of pain I was dealing with. Recovery and adjustment took a lot longer than I anticipated, but I have now been symptom free for a year and a half. Physically, I feel like I’m ten years younger, and I’m so thankful to be able to work with my hands and let the creativity flow!. Read more>>

Irene Shick | Realtor and Owner of The Centennial State Group

When I started my own business, I had no clarity on what my goal was at first; I had no IDEA what it even meant to own my own business. Here is what I knew: I was a brand-new mom that left a high-paying career to try my hand at the “Stay-At-Home” mom thing. I pictured myself making pot roast and crock pot chicken, playing with my little one and doing laundry…and some sort of side-gig to bring in some extra funds to bridge that gap that we created – it was picture perfect in my mind. What happened in real life (what is revealed when that high bar you set for yourself a story up offered no directions on how to GET there) was I needed a plan. I needed a goal and to find my WHY or my intense motivation for the reason I wanted all of my house-wife duties AND to still feel like a woman with some semblance of a career. I knew my WHY was my sweet baby boy and the life the three of us were working to create. Read more>>

Krysti / Jonny (Please Include Both of Our Names) Joméi / (Jonny’s Last Name) | DeStefano | (Krysti’s Title) | Owner | Founder | Space Shuttle Commander / (Jonny’s Title) | Owner | Founder | Ancient Nemesis

Jonny and I (Krysti) were born artists. Like many creatives, it’s not something we chose. It chose us. It’s our DNA, our souls and the lens through which we do everything in life. We met in 2013 via Denver’s DIY / comedy / speakeasy space, the Deer Pile. Jonny founded the venue in 2011 and I hopped on to help manage it. Our friendship was sparked by the discovery that we both had a love for tangible and analog formats of art: vinyl, radio, film, books, magazines, comics, View-Masters, cereal boxes, musical instruments, etc. We also had a deep-rooted punk ideology from our earlier years that forever shaped us, that: do-it-yourself-‘cause-no-else-will / rebellion against the status quo / art is resistance, and a fun mentality that made it hard for us to accept traditional style jobs. Being lifelong gig economy creative workers, we were itching to set out on a journey based on no one else’s schedule or vision but our own. Read more>>

Lexi Novack | Food Truck Owner

I’ve always had the drive to be an entrepreneur. After working in different areas of the food industry for years, I decided it was time to take the leap. I have a note I wrote to myself years ago that I keep on my mirror in my bathroom that reads: “My goal is to grow and create food for others, because it makes others happy. My goal is to build a sustainable lifestyle for myself and my family.” After culinary school in Denver, I told myself that I would learn all parts of the food industry, from the soil to the plate, so that I could one day meet those goals on that piece of paper. So, I tried just about everything. I traveled to Italy, graduated from a second culinary program at the Barilla Academy. I worked in restaurants and as a private chef. I was a manager. I was a farm hand. I became a home gardener. I started a food blog and did menu development. My experiences so far have taught me to understand and appreciate all parts of the industry. Read more>>

Mackenzie Ross | Wedding Photographer

I can’t say there was too much heavy thinking involved, I just felt driven to dive into my photography fully and focus on creating. The corporate world never really jived with my personality and I knew I needed to be my own boss to find fulfillment in my day to day. I was working in retail doing visual merchandising before I started my photography business, along with dog-walking and second shooting events for other photographers, and then I just slowly phased out those commitments as I took on more clients and gigs for myself. It took me about a year before i went full time with my business and I had to be patient with the process so that I could still pay my bills along the way, but it was an exciting goal to work towards. Read more>>

Erica Tardiff | Entrepreneur & Supply Chain Director

I have always been passionate about nature and the outdoors. Most specifically, I am enthralled with fish and the sport of fishing. I focused my undergraduate degree on environmental biology and natural resource management. A few years later in 2017, I made an unexpected choice to get my MBA at Colorado State University, which focused on sustainability and entrepreneurship. In my graduate studies, I married my knowledge of aquatic biology to business practices and needs in the aqua culture industry. I focused on creating an aquafeed that was sustainable and found that replacing the traditionally used wild caught ocean fish with invasive Asian carp made a whole lot of sense both nutritionally and economically. After creating and researching business models on how to put the idea into action and creating a support network, I decided to continue pursuing this idea after graduate school along with my co-founder, Kelly Haugen. Read more>>

Theresa Huffman | Mural Artist

I grew up surrounded by entrepreneurial and creative people. My parents were farmers (the ultimate entrepreneurs!). My grandmother was a self-taught artist, and many of my family members inherited her artistic abilities. I was always drawing, painting, and crafting as a child. When I was 10 years old I won a poster drawing contest and my prize was a set of oil paints. Some of my fondest memories growing up are of painting alongside my grandma. Several years ago when my boys were pre-schoolers I painted a mural in our home and when a friend saw it she asked me to paint murals in her kids’ bedrooms. Then another friend asked, and another, and another…… and before I knew it I had a mural painting side-gig. When my boys entered elementary school I got a “real” job and painting took a back seat. However, I always dreamed of owning my own creative business. Fast forward to a year ago, I was laid off from a contract sales position and all that I could think about was going back to doing what I am passionate about, which is painting and creating. The thought of another boring office job made my stomach hurt so I took the plunge and launched “Murals & More by Theresa”. Read more>>

Kate Laviolette | Movement and Lifestyle Coach, CEO

Starting my own business was my own decision to lead a limitless life. I wanted to treat others and be treated as more than just a paycheck or textbook patient and I felt called for people to have a safe space to explore themselves and be accepted exactly as they are to examine their unique strengths, weaknesses, traumas, patterns, avoidances, attachments, and desires for healing, growth, and helping them to live limitlessly too. The thought processes mulled around my corporate wellness, collegiate, and small studio experiences as well as the skills I felt worked well together and the work-life balance I ultimately wanted to have. And in the end…it came down to how I could live, teach, coach, inspire, travel, and thrive in a life, culture, and professional environment that treats people like the beautiful, unique, and inspiring people they are while encouraging a sustainable and empowered lifestyle. Read more>>

Casey Campbell | Chiropractor

Honestly going through chiropractic school I never wanted to start my own business. I wanted to be a great clinician and not have to worry about anything else. Then I started working in the profession and realized why so many eventually start their own business. I realized the lack of standard of care and lack of communication among the practitioner to the patient. I wanted to create a place with transparency. People know that they will come to a place. Get educated on what is happening/causing the injury that they have. Then have things that they can do on their own to get themselves out of pain and moving better. I wanted them to feel a sense of empowerment instead of feeling like they can’t be pain free without coming to see me. Read more>>

Kim Putnam | Artist & Proprietor of Palisade Posh

As I move through my mid century years I’m realizing I’m getting tired of working for other people. Once I get my business off the ground, I will step back or away from my other work oblications so I can focus on the business which in turn (I hope) will allow me the time to work more in the studio and in my garden. So in a nutshell, my thought process or motivation to start my own business was a desire for independence and a better quality of life. Read more>>

Elizabeth Yarnell | Founder & CEO

I didn’t set out to build this business. At the beginning, I was simply volunteering at my eldest child’s school by administering a grant for integrating art and technology into the elementary school curriculum. The co-chair of the committee, another parent volunteer, was a film professor at a local university. I had a background in the film and video industry stretching back to the 1980s. Together we designed an innovative curriculum to teach different forms of digital storytelling to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. After a few years, the film professor noted that we had developed some amazing programs for kids and it would be great if we could offer them to students beyond those lucky enough to attend this single school. We decided to partner in a business offering vacation camps, after-school enrichment programs, and in-school residency programs. A year later, he left the business. By that point, I wanted to continue the business as a way to share our innovative and robust programs and inspire more kids with 21st century skills. Read more>>

Liz Hatch | Small Business Owner & Fitness Instructor

I have been in the fitness industry for over 10 years, and at the time of starting my own business, it was a natural shift to open my own studio. I wanted to still work with people in fitness and I wanted to create a community that everyone felt included in. The concept of Cyclebar aligned with my desire to create a community and help people. Cyclebar is a Franchise and I thought for my first business, having the support of an established franchisor behind me would lead me to a successful start as an entrepreneur!. Read more>>

Virginia Hay-Arthur | Custom Jeweler and Jewelry Engraver

I kind of feel like I always wanted to start my own business. Both of my parents started a business and always talked about what that was like and the opportunities and freedom it offered. When I decided to start Virginia Ann Designs, it was actually a bit sooner than I was thinking I would go out on my own, but marriage and moving brought the opportunity to bear. It has given me some of the most challenging moments, but it also gives me the wonderful opportunity to raise my kids while I work from home. I get to make my own schedule and decisions, which I have found to be incredibly valuable. It helps that I absolutely LOVE working with people to design and create jewelry. 🙂. Read more>>

Logan Scheer | Chef Instructor and Owner, Ingrediology.org

Growing up, I watched my mother start and run her own business and loved the support and flexibility it gave our family. I started my Twitch channel, Ingrediology, in January 2020, pre-pandemic, and once the restaurant I was working at full-time had shut down temporarily for the second time, I knew it was time for me to explore my options starting my own small business. Ingrediology was built on a foundation of my love of learning and a passion for making cooking fun for everyone, from age 8 to age 80 and beyond. Read more>>

Jordan Hutchison | Boudoir & Couples Photographer for Womxn + Lovers

Creating what I want and being inspired by the work I do. For years I worked for local, state and national photographers, following their vision, their budgets, their motivations. The cherry on top for me was working for a national boudoir company in late 2020 who followed the same posing structure/ routine with their clients and was very robotic in it’s processes, leaving little room for personality or fun. Definitely not my style. I’ve had my own business for years but it wasn’t until six months ago that I really decided to invest in myself and push the limits on what I can do. The rewards thus far have truly been blessed. Read more>>

Diane Talbot | Educational Consultant

I taught in private, charter and public schools as a special education teacher and interventionist for many years. Because I care passionately about my student’s growth and learning, I pursued certification in the gold standard of reading interventions, the Orton Gillingham method. Once I knew how to best teach kids with reading and language-based disabilities, I found working in schools to be frustrating and disheartening, as I was never given the time, quiet space and groupings that allowed me to do more than use the method in a cursory fashion. I longed to really make a difference in kid’s lives. My goal with my business is to provide students with individualized, diagnostic, prescriptive, explicit, systematic, and simultaneously multi-sensory instruction. Each lesson is individualized to constantly review and teach new concepts, I use continued assessment to determine what the student needs. Read more>>

Mi Renyard | Yoga Teacher, Sales Consultant and Jewelry Maker

My thought process when starting my second company was that this time I really wanted to work creative and do something that allowed me to take charge of my own calendar. If I wanna have three weeks off it would only affect me and not anyone else. I’m good with planning and I like to feel free. But I also want to have days where I feel that I have worked hard and that I am doing something good with my work time. So I then can enjoy my days off. So the keywords foe my current company was creativity from the heart, health for me and my clients and time management. Read more>>

Natalie Davis | REALTOR®

The biggest driving force behind my decision to start my own business, was having the opportunity to have a significant impact in the lives of others as they are working to build their businesses. I absolutely enjoy being able to guide, coach, and create strategies for other agents to implement into their business so that they too can see success. I believe if you find a system that works it’s our responsibility to share that with others so they too can have similar experiences. Read more>>

Jes Voight | Founder & Creative Directorv

I have always admired and followed female entrepreneurs. It took years for me to recognize the reason I was slightly obsessing over them is because I wanted to be my own boss. It then took a few more years to figure out what that business would be, what was I passionate enough about to take such a risk? Many conferences and GirlBoss Rallies later, I came to the maker space, it has always been part of me. I knew I had to find my way of contributing to this community. I used to think that you needed the perfect logo, website and head shot to launch your business. That is very much not the case. I am still working on articulating exactly what it is that I want Fruits of Our Labor to be, but we are closer than we have ever been. I am excited for what we have planned for 2021, especially the rough edges and imperfections. Read more>>

Lindsay Burke | Furniture/Schitt Flipper

I’ve always loved creating!Whether it’s painting an old nightstand or redoing a vase someone doesn’t want anymore.I always have my eyes on things with “good bones” and what they could be. I was home last year with nowhere to be,no sports events to drive kids to and Schitt to Shine was born!I had heard of a new antique store in Littleton called Old Crows and it was the perfect fit for a booth with all my Schitt! I find things from ARC or Goodwill,pieces people don’t want anymore. I take “Schitt” and make it shine! It’s been a huge cup filler for me,I can create and try new techniques and best of all I get to meet new people!. Read more>>

CheyAnne Myers | Owner of Makeupbychey

I would say that my thought process was to be able to be my own boss! I wanted to show everyone what I was capable of. Also to be able to show off my creativity in a way that everyone could love and enjoy as well!. Read more>>

Madeleine Mathis | Baker

From my earliest childhood experiences of rolling out Potica dough with my mom (a sweet Yogoslavian bread filled with yumminess) to the first time I perfected a french macaron, baking has always been my favorite hobby. I became obsessed with the science behind baking and understanding the effects of each ingredient. I also loved how art could be transferred to a cake or sugar cookie. My goal at age 12 “My dream job at age 12″was to be a pastry chef. At age 16, I started working in local bakeries which then lead me to an opportunity at Cherry Hills Country Club. At Cherry Hills, I was fortunate to work with a master pastry chef and absorb knowledge from a true professional. I was promoted to Assistant Pastry Chef and was delighted to be a part of the esteemed BMW Championship. Although my hands were always in the kitchen, I eventually pursued a degree in mathematics and began a career in wealth management. In 2017, I decided to pursue my passions on my sweetest adventure yet: Sweet Madeleine’s Bakery in Denver. Read more>>

ReAnna Romero | Health & Wellness Coach

I wanted to be able to help others develop healthier sustainable habits through food and nutrition. It’s a vital part of life and highly misunderstood. I was mentored when I first started my health and wellness journey and fell in love with it. I wanted to be a resource for others. Read more>>

Ava Daniels | Bridal Stylist & Event Stylist

I wanted to create space for the people that are not often included in bridal- LGBTQIA+ folks, brides with more alternative or unique style, and those that just feel like other bridal spaces don’t include them. I want to be an advocate for those people and welcome them into bridal- I have had many brides and friends over the years complain that bridal shops and other spaces don’t feel welcoming for them, and I wanted to change that. Bridal is for everyone!. Read more>>

Vy Pegorsch | Cosmetologist/ Owner

I want to create an environment that would mirror my values and ethics. Read more>>

Lauren Maloney | Realtor, Madison & Co. Properties

I’ve been in real estate marketing since I graduated from University of Northern Colorado in 2012 in one form or another–from large institutional real estate investment trusts (REITs) to small scrappy startups. At one point I found myself thinking about what I really wanted in my career. I was looking for a way to make a big impact on a business while furthering my passion for helping my community. Then it clicked… Why wouldn’t I use my experience in marketing and my drive to help to develop my own real estate business? Since then I’ve learned a million things and I’m more inspired than ever to provide great service to Colorado. Read more>>

Rachael Shayne | CMO, Co-Founder of FocusedBrands

I knew after spending years at advertising agencies and on the client-side at brands, there could be a better way to be creative and lead with a business mindset while also removing a lot of the obstacles to stellar execution. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset and I’m also quick to contest “best practices’ wondering if they still apply and how. Additionally, I’m a 6′ tall woman and have earned the right to have an opinion that doesn’t always ‘fit’ well in corporate settings. It’s unfortunate but true. However, in my own setting with a consulting and rapid-execution on-demand approach for branding and marketing, I can swoop in, stir it up, level-it-up and then retract. I think it works well for my strength and style and for the client-teams. And so, with that mixology of events, FocusedBrands was born. Read more>>

Lori Abramson | Owner

Thought process behind owning a business? Hmmmm – I love coffee shops! I love what they bring to the community and how they connect people. I wanted to bring something different to the Longmont community with healthy options. We aren’t like any other coffee shop around town. For example, we have a full commercial kitchen and make 95% of everything we sell. We bake our 100% gluten free/dairy free baked goods fresh daily and offer different flavors of them weekly. All of our in-house desserts are vegan as well. Furthermore, we offer a full menu of breakfast items and a few panini type sandwiches and salads for lunchtime. So, if you are looking to get some work done, have a delicious, healthy coffee drink or smoothie and snack, come hang out with us at the Cave. Read more>>

Cassidy & Brenda Mealhow | Mama Tried Boutique Owners

We are all about family and spending time with one another so we thought what better way then to start a business together! We also have a passion for fashion, and wanted everyone no matter what your style or size is, to be able to enjoy and embrace it just as much as we do! That’s when we came up with our slogan, “We were raised on Grits, Gravy & God! A boutique with southern flare & family owned by some hip chicks. How does one raise three ornery girls with a bronc riding husband? I have no idea, but MAMA TRIED!”. Read more>>

Garrett Hayes | Videographer, Photographer, Graphic Designer, Teacher, Entrepreneur

I have always had a passion for the media and creating media since I was a child. Graduating from high school I knew that I wanted to work in media in one way or another, I also knew that I wanted to start my own legacy with a business. In college I recognized the intricacies of working in the media and that the best means of action would be to make sure my destiny was in my own hands. As such, in college I started my own magazine with two other friends that had a successful six year run. However, as my business partners and I grew older, our goals changed and the magazine would end up being a casualty of that change. When the magazine dropped, I knew I still wanted to work with media so I started Square Visions to do photography, video, and graphic design. Read more>>

Marcus Dupree | C.E.O. KSPX Sparkx Radio Network & Sparkx TV

I was homeless and I use to go to the library every day and just sit and this older white lady would share her lunch with me every day so I would have something to eat and invite me into the library I would sit eat with her and read books on how to build computers. So I would teach myself a skill eventually so one day I was walking by a mission and a church group was doing outreach there then this family saw I was giving my jacket to someone who didn’t have one. They approached me and we got to talking they found I didn’t even have a home and was trying to help someone less fortunate. They offered me a spare room in their house and my birthday was coming up in a few days they asked me what I wanted and I said a computer tower and some parts. They got them for me and in about a month or so I build my own computer and built my own website and started my own podcast Sparkx Radio. Read more>>