Many books on startups and business talk about how there are right and wrong reasons for starting a business. So, we asked a handful of successful founders about their reasons and the thought-process behind starting their business.

Shanna Johnson | Illustrator + Animal Ally

This company was born of a love for animals and community. I was craving a way to connect with my community and my passions. What better way than to harness my talents and create a platform that gives back?. Read more>>

Manushkka Sainvil | Founder & Moisturizer-In-Chief, Chubby Curls Natural Hair Products

I was frustrated with Black women being an afterthought in an industry where we are arguably the top customers. In 2018, $2.5 billion was spent on black hair care products, (Essence, Oct 2019). There’s an incredible amount of hair products marketed to the Black community, sadly, many of them contain the cheapest common denominator of ingredients that provide little to no benefit to our hair. I always encourage the natural community to read the labels and know what they’re putting in their hair. Read more>>

Mike Weisberg | Owner

OMG was something I always wanted to do as I worked in shops all my life and knew there was a certain way I wanted to do things. Read more>>

Stacey Wallace Rehbein | Genealogist & Genetic Genealogist

Im not sure I had a thought process with a particular goal in mind, but it was something I fell into naturally because of where I was in life. I am not your usual, young and ready to find my purpose, type of entrepreneur. For 35 years I already had a job I loved. I was a mom with a husband, four children and everything that came with it. However, sooner or later children grow up, move out and pursue their own individual interests and dreams. This left me in a position to pursue new and exciting possibilities. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I found myself wondering if there was anyplace where I could bring value or be more involved. My thoughts wandered and kept taking me back to my past. When I was much younger, my mother had been collecting photo’s of our ancestors and and making copies for everyone. I listened to my grandmother tell stories about each one and how we were related. I wanted to know more but getting copies of records at the time was almost impossible, as it was laborious and time consuming. Life went on as my mother and grandmother passed away and everyday life took over. Read more>>

Courtney Lanctot | Encourager of Black Adventure

The Unpopular Black was created from the frustration of being told that Black people don’t do adventurous and outdoor activities. To me, there was a need in our community to experience what nature could offer. Read more>>

Delanie Holton-Fessler, MEd | Founder, The Craftsman & Apprentice, Author, and Education Consultant

After working as an artist and teaching art for ten years, I wanted to create a community that supported community and craft. We started small, a 650 sq ft storefront with one table. We started hosting classes for kids and adults and C&a grew from there. Read more>>

Jenny Gram | Dancer, Choreographer, Entrepreneur

I’m the founder of Movenet, an on-demand platform for dance performances. I moved to Denver two years ago after living and dancing professionally in New York for six years. Shortly after I arrived in the Mile High City, I began researching and connecting with colleagues around all things dance and film. I wanted to build something that would allow me to share and support the work of artists I respected and admired around the country. A network of movers connecting to audiences outside of their reach. Fast forward to this upside-down world we live in today where the Pandemic has ravaged the performing arts community. I feel a deep sense of urgency to help the dance field and have stepped my business plans into overdrive. Dance has the power to change opinions, translate experiences, instill values, and uplift spirits – everything our communities need in this very moment to move forward. It’s been a long journey and we’re only just getting started, but I’m thrilled to be bringing this business to life. Be on the lookout for Movenet coming to your screen in Spring 2021. Read more>>

Lanita Isler | Professional, Mother and YouTuber

When I was on maternity leave, I watched a lot of YouTube. There were a lot of younger YouTubers, that where great, but didn’t have the same issues that I was facing. So, I thought I would specifically start a channel for Women who were over 40, that face the same changes and challenge. Read more>>

Sabrina Patterson | Hair Designer

It was really the next step. I’ve worked in some beautiful salons for some wonderful companies. I’m very lucky in that sense. What I mean is I was put in challenging situations that made me happy uncomfortable and with that came growth. It was only logically after 13 plus years at my last position (where I learned to be a mentor, educator, and finished as their education director), only logical thing to grow further was to go out on my own with everything I’ve learned the last 3 decades in this industry. Read more>>

Jessica Baumgart | Food Tour Owner

Before I moved to Colorado I took a year off to backpack across the globe. My husband and I visited 25 countries in South America, Africa, Europe and Asia, and we fell in love with food tours! They quickly became my favorite way to explore a new city and learn about its local culture. We took food tours everywhere from Colombia to Ethiopia, Italy to Singapore. When we returned to the states and landed in Colorado, I knew that the food scene would be a major draw for me. I started by teaching cooking classes and opened food tours as an additional way to introduce visitors and locals to Denver’s amazing restaurants. At first, I thought it would be a part-time gig in the afternoons before my cooking classes, but the tours quickly became popular, and I started running them 7 days/week. Eventually, I shut down my cooking classes to focus completely on Delicious Denver Food Tours. I hired guides and grew from there. Read more>>

Jaidene Anderlini | Founder of Love Certified Child Care Formerly Known As Babysitters In a Pinch

I lost my job and couldn’t find a job in marketing which was my background but due to agism (it is alive and well), I was unable to secure employment so I decided to use my background in child care and marketing to begin my own business. I also have a lot of compassion for children and their safety. Read more>>

Christina Ray | Award Winning and Top Producing Colorado Realtor®

I thought to myself… If I’m working this hard for my employer, how hard would I work for myself? I was a very loyal and hardworking employee but after getting married and having children, I realized that I needed my own business. A business that would fulfill me and make me excited to go to “work” every day. A business that would afford me flexibility so I didn’t have to miss the important events for my girls and also a business that would excite me. Very quickly after starting my real estate career, I realized this was my calling. I knew that I was doing what I was meant to do. My clients mean the world to me and still to this day I get goosebumps seeing my sign in the yard of a house that I’m selling or getting the call that my clients offer was the winning offer. Read more>>

Nicole Adams | Yoga & Fitness Teacher | HeartMath Coach

I decided to open Origin House of Fitness as a safe haven for myself as a group fitness instructor, but also with the intention of giving clients a different exercise experience. After having countless negative experiences both as a teacher and a participant in various group exercises classes, I decided I wanted to do something different. As a trauma survivor myself, I often felt very uncomfortable in classes; I felt like I needed to act or look a certain way and I was often on edge, not knowing if the teacher was going to call me out, or adjust me in class. As a teacher, I was often forced to teach scripted material and the more I learned and grew as a teacher, the more I realized I needed and wanted to truly be able to teach to the folks in my class which was different day to day and class to class. I also have an educational background in Psychology, Meditation and Mindfulness, so when I opened the studio, I began to teach my own unique methodology that is trauma informed and includes principles of psychology and mindfulness; I call it mindful fitness. Read more>>

Jackson Riegler | Founder – Oshki, Student at the University of Michigan

I grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan in Muskegon, Michigan and always was passionate about protecting what I call home. As I grew in my education throughout high school, I became knowledgable of the serious risks towards the Great Lakes watershed such as invasive species, the Line 5 pipeline, and plastic waste in the Great Lakes: I wanted to do my part to protect this vital natural resource. With some money I had saved from landscaping in the summer, I started Oshki (meaning ‘fresh’ in Native American Ojibwa): an apparel company focused on protecting the Great Lakes through the reuse of plastic waste and donating 5% of proceeds to non-profits working to preserve the Great Lakes. Read more>>

Crystal Elliott | Baker Gal Extraordinaire

Crystal’s Creations has operated as a side hustle for over 20 years. Now that I am operating this on a full-time basis, I revamped my business plan, expanding into a commercial kitchen and offering wholesale to other local small businesses, but also providing a sense of community. I need to rebrand myself and my offerings which is where my community advocacy background comes into play. I offer a wide range of items, however maintaining a small menu that changes weekly. I also offer instructional components and opportunities for mentorship within my community. I am a woman on a mission with a passion and a vision. I will bake it happen. Read more>>

Dan Curtis | Commercial Director & Photographer

I always wanted to have my own business even when I was a kid and would sell Pokémon cards out of the back of my parents’ house. I went to school for film and began working at a production studio in Chicago. I started out as an editor and worked my way up to directing. We produced content for household names like Kenmore, Craftsman, and Nike. After working there for several years, the company went under and I found myself at a fork in the road. I could have either looked for a job at another studio and stake my livelihood on them or I could give freelancing a shot and see where that took me. Before I could make up my mind, I got a call from a client who one of my colleagues had referred to me. Then another client reached out and the next thing I knew, I was a freelancer. It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado that I formed an LLC, opened a business account, and put processes together into what I would consider a business. I don’t think I could ever go back to working at another studio. The way I look at it, when you work at a company, you have all of your eggs in one basket. When you run your own business, every client is a different basket. It’s good to have a lot of baskets. Read more>>

Candice Redman | Entrepreneur

I started my career in the corporate world right out of college. Although it laid the groundwork for me professionally, I always dreamt of one day being my own boss and creating my own company. After starting a family, it became clear that I wanted a more flexible schedule that would allow me to be more hands-on in my children’s lives while still being a successful business woman. During Redline’s first two years, I continued working a full-time job while also maintaining my business. As Redline grew, I made the final decision to walk away from my career of seven years and dedicate my entire focus to Redline’s growth and future opportunities. The decision to leave my place of employment after seven wonderful years, was not easy and very risky. However, if I wouldn’t have taken that leap of faith, Redline would not be what it is today with my kiddos by my side. Starting Redline Promotions has been a tremendous learning experience. The knowledge and challenges that we have overcome throughout our three years in business, have given me the expertise and motivation to start other businesses and now a non-profit organization! The process of opening a non-profit is similar, but also very different. Read more>>

MJ & Blaine Pickett | Co-owners & Farmers

We have always been drawn to food. As we worked and travelled throughout our lives, we noticed that food always brought people together, whether through language barriers, age, or culture. When the opportunity to start our own farm presented it’s self, we were excited to share our values of building soil while also feeding our community and didn’t think twice about it. Read more>>

Chris Bradshaw | Owner/Designer of SheaMarie Designs

I just knew in my heart there were women out there who would value a custom made wedding gown. After all, it’s one of the most important days in your life and you absolutely want to look your very best. As a designer, patternmaker and seamstress, I’m able to create a one-of-a-kind gown for them that fits their unique body perfectly with all the elements they truly want in their gown. The wedding industry is tough, items are sold at a premium just because it has the word “wedding” attached to it. Wedding gowns are no exception. Many brides are floored when they learn what that gown they just tried on is going to cost once you they add on the bridal shop’s alterations fees. Read more>>

Shaochen Wu | Wedding Calligrapher & Business Mentor

My career for over a decade was very left-brain focused, not at all like what I do now as a wedding calligrapher. I led teams of enterprise client managers and operations managers at software companies in Silicon Valley, but have always had a curiosity for all kinds of crafts. I’ve tried my hand at pottery, glass working, macrame – the list goes on. Because of my obsession with handmade goods, I would go to every craft fair in town and follow tons of artists on Instagram which eventually fostered what felt like a pipe dream to start my own small business. In early 2019, I ended up leaving my tech job abruptly due to health reasons. As I thought about what my career aspirations were, I had no desire to keep climbing the corporate ladder to that next VP title. But I knew I would regret not giving my dream of starting a small business a shot. My excuse had always been that the timing wasn’t right, and this was the moment of truth where I asked myself – “if not now, when?” There would only be more responsibilities and inertia over time. Read more>>

Gretchen Cleveland | OBM & Business Strategist

After a decade as a corporate attorney, I was ready to work for myself and be the person making the big decisions. I primarily wanted more control over my time and where I lived. I knew I was creative, resourceful, and financially stable enough to try it out. After a year of planning and prep, I took the leap and started a coaching business. Read more>>

Leslie Meis | BA, LMT, CYT

I never thought I wanted to run my own business. At the last place I was employed before striking out on my own I spent a lot of time fixing other people’s mistakes. A client would come for a massage and tell me while on the table that they were having this or that problem with their membership, billing, or scheduling and had been unable to resolve it with the receptionist. I wanted my clients to have a good experience, so if I knew how to fix the issue (and I usually did) I would cut out the middle man and just take care of it for them. Eventually I theorized that all this extra energy could be better spent running my own show. The time I spent fixing the mistakes of my coworkers, or giving my boss opinions on running HIS business could be spent doing my own marketing. Read more>>

Matt Pintauro | Video Producer, Graphic Designer and Web Developer

I always loved the idea of entrepreneurship but never really thought I would take that path myself. I kind of fell into it naturally. I worked in a small production studio and saw the way things ran with client management, workflow systems and time management. After a while of working there, I really wanted more flexibility for myself and to take on jobs that interested me personally. I started taking on my own clients and things started to snowball from there. Read more>>

Marian Kreul | Cake Decorator and Baker

It’s funny, because I honestly refer to myself as a “reluctant business owner.” I say that only because the business aspect is mostly an afterthought to the creative aspect. I grew up with a mom and grandmothers that baked from scratch. I still remember some of the birthday cakes my mom made for us as kids, and the amount of love that went into them. That feeling that someone had made something so special, just for me. I tried to replicate that feeling for my step kids when they were teenagers, because I felt so acutely that they should have a special, homemade cake on their birthday, just like my mom always made for me. Then, when my own kids were babies, I really dived into the decorating aspect and I was hooked. I made cakes for family, friends, neighbors… anyone I could think of! I referred to myself as “The crazy cake lady,” because I would chase my neighbors down in their driveways with decorated treats on a regular basis. Word spread that there was a crazy cake lady in the neighborhood, and it just grew from there. I started a business because I wanted to create more cakes for more people. Read more>>

Brittney Rae Reese | Certified FITness Coach & Co-founder of FIT & NU™

After years of attending different wellness seminars and signing up for various gym memberships, we decided to launch FIT & NU in 2015, after some serious soul searching during our backpacking trip through Central America. During this trip, we became certified as Zumba instructors, but we also had the critical realization that the reason why we planned this trip in the first place was because we were deeply unsatisfied with the options that were currently available to us. We experienced microaggressions at boutique gyms and were completely ignored at big box gyms. Not to mention, very few gyms offered nutrition services. This was our “aha” moment. We knew we were not alone in feeling this way because we had heard about this kind of experience so many times before. This realization made us all the more determined to open our own wellness studio. We knew that this was about so much more than our personal experiences. It’s a systemic problem. Read more>>

Nicole Briggs | CEO/Founder of Life Empowered NYC

I wanted to create a business that would Support my community. I wanted to be able to change lives and enable families to be Empowered to be able to live and enjoy life. By providing them the resources and tools to grow in a world that is changing daily. Read more>>

Elizabeth Drumm | Founder + Mother, Hamam Mama

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bug, and am one of those people constantly coming up with ideas for products or businesses, but most of the time it isn’t something that I feel is worth the hassle of pursuing. What was different with this idea is it just wouldn’t go away – I had my initial idea about two years before I actually started my business and during those two years it would always creep back up in my mind until it eventually felt so personal, that the thought of someone else doing it was something I couldn’t let happen. It got to the point that I couldn’t not do it. It didn’t come down to numbers and spreadsheets, it really was a non-decision.. the “idea” this time was built from my family roots, my values, my own personal journey into becoming a mother, my desire to use business for good and help others along the way.. my business and my product is truly just a natural extension of me and naturally became part of my identity and along that journey I kind of realized “Oh I guess I’m building a business around this.” Read more>>

Elizabeth Fowler | Graphic Designer

In my late 20’s, I was fortunate to have spent time overseas for several years traveling and working. This experience completely changed my perspective on life, and I knew that starting my own business would give me the freedom and flexibility to curate the kind of life I want to live. It’s been an amazing journey so far. Read more>>

Beth Blacker | Professional Organizer and Move Management Specialist

I always say that my passion for having a place and purpose for everything is in my DNA. My mother and grandmother were both very organized and I just followed in their maternal footsteps. I never had to be told to clean my room, do my homework or any other age appropriate executive functioning skill so there is no doubt that I have always hovered on the OCD line and enjoy having systems and processes for everything. As a result, I always sought out jobs early in my professional career that required a significant amount of attention to detail and order. I often say that I “see things” others don’t when I walk into any space whether a home, office or business and want to just dive in with my vision for how the space could function with an incredible amount of energy. Trust me, though, it is a blessing and a curse being so action forward. For some people, this process can be very intense so I need to be able to constantly assess where my energy level needs to be to make sure the client doesn’t get overwhelmed to the point they shut down and can’t move forward. Read more>>

Brenda Hardwick | Angel Communicator, Energy Healer, Author, Speaker and Retired State Government Employee

I only registered, but it was simple and easy and I will be back when needed. I was looking for information on how and where to get registered to get the Covid. Read more>>

Austin Dempers | Founder & Yoga Instructor

Warrior Womxn began as I saw a need for trauma informed spaces where Womxn can show up in their authenticity. Navigating the world as a Womxn and as a survivor can be challenging, to say the least. And if we are being real, it can really suck. Which is why my bestie and I combined our creative genius to offer Self Defense and Yoga to Womxn in a Womxn only environment and through a trauma informed lens. We combine mindfulness with groin strikes, body awareness with weapon defense. breath work with ground defense and so much more. In our experience, Yoga can sometimes be an after thought in the martial arts world and martial arts can sometimes be a bit intimidating to the average Yoga practitioner; both movements ask a lot of our mind, body and spirit and together we have developed our curriculum to support every Womxn on their journey. Once COVID hit and businesses were forced to pivot I began writing a business plan for Warrior Womxn Collective: A Womxn’s Wellness Center where Womxn go to get their needs met and thrive. Read more>>

John Clark | Indie Psych Rocker and Fulltime Dad

I started releasing my music for my kids to find when I am gone and that is still the main reason. Once I started getting involved with playlisting and the streaming sites and the sense of community some musicians share is when I started to take more of a business approach to some of my releases. Basically my John Clark releases are all over the place – multi genre and whatever I want to do. My newer artists are specific to a certain genre or niche (Fin Moon – instrumental guitar) (Helen Green – instrumental piano) So it started as a trail for my kids but then they started getting hungry 😉. Read more>>

Jen Hinderliter | Nonprofit Consultant

I have devoted my entire career to nonprofit management with an emphasis in resource development. I believe it is truly a privilege to connect individuals, organizations and resources to the programs making a difference in our community. I had a little experience with consulting as a side-hustle over the years but had been afraid to take the plunge and commit to consulting work full-time. In 2019, I decided it was time for a change and left the Executive Director position I’d held for the prior 7 years. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next, but colleagues reached out about interim work and it seemed like a good fit while I figured out what I wanted to do long-term. In February 2020 I landed my first new client that I didn’t have any previous connection to and completed the paperwork to form my LLC, Mile High Nonprofit Solutions. When COVID hit I found myself uniquely positioned to support the nonprofit community that I love. Read more>>