Starting a business is a commitment and requires dedication, resources and sacrifice. We asked some of the rising stars in our community how they thought through the idea of starting their own businesses.

Uriell Carlson | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Since I was a kid I’ve always known that I wanted my career to be as much a part of my professional life as it is my personal life. As an athlete who was originally struggling with my nutrition, I also found myself talking about food and nutrition with my friends all the time. After a couple of years of this, I had an “ah-ha” moment when I met someone who was working as a personal trainer and nutritionist and I realized that nutrition was my calling. Now, by combining my personal life as an athlete and mountain bike racer with nutrition, I have been able to build my business with a platform that focuses on nutrition for active humans. Read more>>

Kayla Klein | CEO of Kreativ Alchemy

I studied journalism in college and got into marketing afterward because I wanted to exercise my creativity every day. I bounced around the PR and marketing teams of a few different companies, and I came face-to-face with the harsh reality that unless I was completely in charge, I would always be carrying out someone else’s creative vision. I felt drained and worked to death doing something that didn’t invigorate my creative energy. I was working on the marketing team at a tech company when I met my business partner and boyfriend, Connor, who was the graphic designer there. As we got to know each other, we discovered an inevitable synergy. Not only did our marketing skills complement each other, but we had the same goal in life: to be in control of our own creative freedom. With that mission in mind, the decision to start Kreativ Alchemy in 2019 came effortlessly. Read more>>

Meghan Gray | DACM, MSHUFM, L.Ac. (or Acupuncturist, Herbalist, and Nutritionist)

Team work. It sounds counter intuitive to go out on your own because you want to work as a team, but I realized in the first few years of my career that acupuncturists work pretty independently, even if they share a space with other practitioners. My education was very focused on integrative medicine so I learned right away the value of having multiple minds on each case that came through the door. By opening up my own clinic, it freed me to start bringing on other practitioners (so far a holistic esthetician/lymphatic massage therapist as well as an additional acupuncturist/herbalist) to comanage our patients. This is absolutely invaluable. Gua Sha facials are an essential part of our skin care patients, lymphatic massage for chemotherapy support/autoimmune patients, and two acupuncture minds are always better than one. I attribute our case success to the conversations our team has together, multiple times a week, about how to help heal our patients! We really work hard to utilize every available tool and champion for the health of the people who trust us with their care. Read more>>

Pink Fuzz | Heavy Rock Band

We wanted to create the band that we’ve never seen and make the songs that we’ve never heard. Read more>>

Sean Leary | Founder and CEO

I had the original idea for Sports Thread after I went to play junior college baseball at Orange Coast College. While I was at OCC I met dozens of other athletes who were having trouble with the recruiting process. At the time, the only options to get help obtaining a college scholarship were very costly and antiquated. I had the idea to use social media to provide a way for athletes to connect with college coaches and network to get scholarships for free. From there, I spent the next two years playing D1 baseball at Oral Roberts University raising capital and writing the initial business plan and scope of work for the initial product. Once I graduated I was lucky enough to find an incredible group of mentors in Silicon Valley including our CMO Dick O’Donnell who helped me improve the business model and get the company ready to scale by incorporating our SaaS platform and expanding our product offering to a larger total addressable market. Today thanks to those early mentors and advice, Sports Thread is one of the top 200 Sports Apps on the Apple Store in the world. Read more>>

Jerrica Kirkley | Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Plume

Honestly, I never thought about starting my own healthcare business, until shortly before founding Plume. When I went to medical school, my goal was to provide high quality healthcare to marginalized and under-resourced communities. At the time, the surest path to doing that seemed to be working in the federally qualified community health center and free clinic networks so that is what I did as soon as I finished my medical residency. But, over time, I realized that despite the cost access these systems afforded to some, they were barriers to care in many other ways due to the structure of the legacy healthcare system and I found myself delivering a substandard quality of medical care due to inflexible systems that were prioritizing stakeholders other than patients and clinicians. This was especially true for trans patients whose barriers and pain points are both increased and amplified compared to most in the legacy brick and mortar, insurance and fee-for-service based healthcare system. As a trans person myself, I have been a patient as well and experienced many of these pain points personally. Read more>>

Jon Sisenwein | Realtor® – Compass Boulder

After over 20 years in the Advertising business, it was becoming clear that – as I got older – job security was not looking good. The industry is known for layoffs. Jumping from agency to agency was just part of the game. Landing a job got harder and harder. I loved creating ads, I loved playing with words and finding the perfect sequence to tell a story. But I hated playing the corporate game. Growing up with two parents who were self-employed. I understood the freedom of working for yourself. My father was a Psychologist in private practice and my mother was a real estate broker. They both worked hard, but the stress of finding new patients/clients was always looming. However, the reward was greater. So, In 2009, I took a leap of faith and started my own advertising agency: Tandem Advertising & Design ( The idea was to create an agency that could do just about anything, using the resources of really talented people I had worked with over the past 20 years. No employees, just freelancers. People who were really good at what they did – so we could get work done quickly for our clients without wasting time. Clients love the efficiency. Read more>>

Sarah Werkin | Birth & Postpartum Doula, Childbirth & Newborn Educator, and Intuitive Coach

The thought process for me, was actually more of a feeling. I knew what I wanted to create, and I went with what felt really good. What felt good for me, was doing the things that brought me immense joy, working with purpose, and cultivating freedom within my life. I knew that I was going to be most successful doing what I love versus continuing to plug endless hours into a path that wasn’t for me. I woke up one day getting ready to clock into my former corporate job, and I had a full blown panic attack. I couldn’t live one more day in a career path that wasn’t serving me, and I knew then that I had to start my own business. The way I look at it is, If I can work tirelessly for someone else, why wouldn’t I be able to do that for me. Read more>>

Jen Henderson | Mom/ Wife/ Founder

I spent 15 years in Corporate America in Operations, Talent Development, and Leadership. As a professional mom with 2 small children, I experienced career stagnation and pregnancy discrimination when I disclosed both of my pregnancies. The research shows that this maternal bias, and similar discrimination, originates during the leaves of absence process so I set off on my own and founded TiLT to revolutionize leave in the workplace. Read more>>

Rob McCormack | President and Co-Founder of FishSki Provisions | Fly Fishing Adventurer and Conservationist

We (Tania and Rob McCormack) started FishSki Provisions to bring together our three favorite things: Southwestern food, flyfishing, and skiing (hence our name). For years friends had been pushing us to sell our Hatch Chile backpacking and rafting food recipes. Rob was a flyfishing guide years before settling down with Tania. An opportunity to guide in the Russian Far East (a long dream of his) became available to Rob. Tania set a deal: Rob could quit his desk job and go to Russia if they started FishSki Provisions when he returned… and here we are almost 4 years later with FishSki Provisions available nationwide in 400+stores and online. Read more>>

Jacinda Young | Makeup Artist , Eyelash Technician Certified, and I Have a Cosmetic Brand Called Slayy Cosmetics

As a 18 yr older I started working a lot of jobs and a lot of jobs because where I from they don’t have to give you a reason why they are going to fire you. Everytime this would happen I would feel my purpose was not to work for others but to be a worker for myself in my own business. Back in 2011 I started cosmetology school later 2012 I graduated and knew that was my purpose but wanted to upscale it in a different way. After graduating cosmetology I started working at a nail shop for a while trying to see if that was my passion and it was at the time but my true passion was makeup. Every since I was a little girl it was something about makeup I loved and a lot of things in the beauty world that’s trending now I did back when I was in middle school. Everyone would tell me that is what you was meant to do beauty is in your DNA. I have been doing makeup for about 6-7 yrs and I love making people feel and look beautiful so I am a makeup artist and a eyelash technician. My brand I built around all this is called Slayy Cosmetics it’s a cosmetic brand , cosmetic services, and skincare brand I also travel doing cosmetic services. Read more>>

Kristin Rossi | International Nail Artist

Let me just start off by saying that starting your own business can be extremely overwhelming no matter what age you are. I started my first business, Kristin’s Nail Boutique, in West Branch Michigan at the tender age of nineteen. Considering taking that entrepreneurial leap was not even in my thought process. When you’re nineteen you can barely tie your own shoes let alone run a business, but because you’re so naive you don’t think about the consequences. That can give you the edge to eliminate that element of fear. Now, 29 years later, I’m starting yet another business, and what I have found with keeping those same attributes afloat is what keeps me constantly evolving and leveling up! Basically, always GO FOR IT! Don’t let anything or anyone stop you! If you can dream it, you can do it. Read more>>

Andrea Vanderbilt | Owner, Teach Me To Grow, LLC

The beginnings of my business, Teach Me To Grow, came flooding to me very naturally. I have always been one to quickly grow bored in a “normal” job setting so it was no surprise that once the idea came to me, I was eager to work at warp speed to get it off the ground. I never really put much thought into being a “business owner” or entrepreneur, but it makes so much sense now that I am in how it fits my desire for constant challenge and strong independent thinking. The thought process behind starting the business was to share gardening knowledge in a fun and practical way. Being in the horticulture industry, I know first hand that many growers withhold the sharing of information, making growing anything seem intimidating and competitive. Teach Me To Grow seeks to empower beginner gardeners to understand food cultivation using the foundations of horticulture leaving them with the ability to grow food effectively. After many seasons of “I wish I could do that” comments from peers on my home vegetable garden, I decided my knowledge and passion to share it was a strong basis for an important business. Read more>>

Renelle Everett Darr | Conscious Leadership Coach & Consultant

I launched the idea to start my own business while I was on leave recovering from back surgery in 2008. I knew I had ended up with a back issue due to my non-stop way of life in both work and personal. I knew something had to change and I wasn’t quite sure how to change it. I knew there must be a different way to combine lifestyle, purpose, profit and motherhood into a more harmonious system. I didn’t see a way to conduct that experiment at the time in my corporate role. What I didn’t realize is how creative or how much self growth would occur by launching my own business. What started as a thought and an idea, quickly grew into a labor of love. Read more>>

Dustin Campbell | Real Estate Agent/ Dope Dad/ Dot Connector/ Curator of Dope Experiences

Simple answer is I knew there was more. More to life, and more to living it. I had worked my way into very good corporate jobs but I was never fulfilled by my work. I loved the people but didn’t feel the work served my purpose. With the help of friends and family I made the leap into real estate. I felt a career in real estate would help connect me to a higher purpose. I wanted to help others realize their dream of home ownership. This would also provide me the capital to chase my other dreams as well. Read more>>

Jennifer Balsiger | Yoga Instructor, Owner Moonlight Yoga Denver

A lot of small businesses have been impacted by COVID, especially yoga and fitness studios. People in the community have lost many of their favorite places and are looking for somewhere they can still practice. I wanted to help by offering yoga classes to the community. With my yoga business, Moonlight Yoga Denver, I rent space for my classes which reduces the costs of maintaining my own studio and also helps the small business yoga studios I rent from. In order to make my classes accessible to all, they are donation-based. Read more>>

Kareen Shapiro | Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Co-founder and Executive Director of Raising Kindness

As I looked for ways to volunteer in the community with my young children, I found that it was difficult to find such opportunities. I had been thinking about starting a non profit that would provide such opportunities for young families, but I also felt overwhelmed by the process of starting a business. My background is in social work and I felt confident that I could create partnerships in the community and create a program that would fill this void in the community. I did not feel as strong in the business side of things including budgets and fundraising. I partnered with a friend, Jenny Emerson, who also felt strongly about creating a program that would easily allow young families to volunteer and make an impact in their community. Each of our individual strengths were utilized to start Raising Kindness Colorado with the mission of empowering children and families to do good in their community. Read more>>

Brooke Austin | Creative Photographer

I feel like I was sort of thrust into starting my business overnight. I had been a busy, stay-home mom and doing my own very small handmade creations side biz, but some challenging life experiences changed my circumstances lightning fast and I sat on my couch one night and thought “if not now, when?” I look at it like I really just threw myself into the process without a lot of planning and that uncertainty and unknown somewhat led my flow. The unplanned, “fly by the seat of my pants” attitude actually kept me grounded in staying focused on one thing, one step at a time. I had been doing photography since childhood and it was a beloved hobby, but the confidence and drive to chase it as a dream and professional business, that developed and continues to develop, out of a passion to grow my talents, be a self-sufficient single mother and live in my creative passion for photography. Read more>>

Portia Owens | Owner, Founder – Common Providence

It began as a hobby. I honestly didn’t have the intention of starting a business, I just wanted to find skincare that was non-toxic, natural and effective. Over time, I found it really difficult to find skincare or personal care products that, 1) actually worked in our dry Colorado climate and, 2) had clean, identifiable ingredients (basically I just wanted to be able to pick up a product and recognize every ingredient on the list). Out of frustration and lack of options, I began my own research into creating products from natural ingredients like plant oils and plant and mineral powders. Growing up, my parents owned an herbal supplement business- so I’ve always known the intrinsic power of plants and plant-based products. For years I tested different combinations of plant and mineral-based ingredients and eventually created a handful of products that addressed every concern or issue I was having with other products. After product creation, it was just a natural evolution into creating Common Providence. Read more>>

Lisa Wimberger | Founder and CEO of Neurosculpting

I was suffering from debilitating seizures for most of my life and the only thing that helped me, and literally cured me, was the 5-step process of brain training and meditation that I created as a last ditch attempt to help myself. Once I was able to stop my seizures, which by that point were life threatening, I committed myself to teaching this modality. I never intended it to become a global business. I only ever intended to marry myself to teaching the modality that saved my life. I let it take me wherever it could. I believe the unwavering commitment and focus translated well into entrepreneurship and long term success. Read more>>

Cole Gibbs | Founder & CEO

After seeing all of the single use plastic waste being created by the Cannabis and Hemp industries, with no solution in sight. I founded Dama Distributing to pioneer the development of sustainable hemp plastic and compliant packaging solutions for the Cannabis and Hemp industries. At Dama Distributing we care about the world we live in, and strive to make the world a better place for us all. With only 9% of all plastic recycled worldwide, the plastic waste problem is growing out of control. That’s why Dama Distributing is on a mission to eliminate single use plastic waste, by offering truly sustainable packaging solutions for everything from seed to concentrates. So the Cannabis and Hemp industries do not drown themselves in single use plastic. Together we end plastic pollution. Read more>>

Bryn Baldassari | Executive Director Serving Adults With Developmental Disabilities

My thought process behind starting my own business was all about passion. I didn’t start it because I wanted to be my own boss, although now that I am 7.5 years into it I do love it. I originally started it because I had SO MANY ideas on how I wanted to creatively support the community of adults with developmental disabilities, and the main area I wanted to serve didn’t have any agencies to support them. I grew up in Littleton, CO and I made friends with many of the individuals with disabilities. As I graduated college and set out to start my life, I was hit in the face with the reality that many of my peers whom I graduated with, my friends with DD, did not have the same opportunities that I had at the same stage in life. I could have gone to grad school, moved anywhere I wanted, moved in with my boyfriend, etc. etc. My peers were still living at home with their parents, maybe involved in a day program a couple days/week, and calling me multiple times/day just wanting to have some peer interaction. My passion to serve this community was what drove me to start Stepping Stone. They should have the same opportunities that I have. Read more>>

Michelle Graham and Giles Hash | Co-Hosts of Beyond the Trope Podcast

In the beginning, we just wanted to have fun. We were writers who met at a big conference in Denver, and we were all in the same writers’ group. Giles had always wanted to start a podcast because he wanted to have fun and do something unique in the entertainment world. Michelle didn’t even listen to podcasts, but she was up for a challenge and hanging out with her friends to talk deeply about writing. We didn’t even have a real business plan outside of recording discussions writers want to hear. In the first year of recording, we were able to be a part of Podcast Peak at Denver Pop Culture Con 2014, and things just took off from there. We started interviewing more authors, artists, and creative experts, and each year the question of “Should we keep going?” was met with a resounding, “Well, duh.” We actually self-supported the podcast for about three years, paying out of pocket for hosting, the website, our gear–everything. It wasn’t until 2017 that we sat back and really started to consider how we could make the podcast not just fun for us and our fans, but less of a financial strain on our personal pockets. Read more>>

Cristine Googins | Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master and Co- Creator of Ceremony Beauty

My business partner Marnie Quinn and I have talked about collaborating on a project for years. Outside of her being the owner of the healing center where I teach yoga and practice reiki (Ceremony : Center for Healing) we always felt that we would come up with something else that resonate with our lifestyles and our love of wellness and all things natural, from the inside out. One day while I was helping her make the face oil that she had formulated and perfected years ago and that I love so much, we we both realized that this was it! We would come up with a skin care line together! With my experience as an esthetician and Marnie’s background in herbalism, we sat down to come up with a basic skin care routine and had so much fun brainstorming on natural, organic, and affective ingredients and essential oils to make it smell amazing as well! As soon as our amazing community of people started trying the products, we couldn’t make them fast enough! They were flying off the shelves! I think people could really feel the love, fun, and intention that we put into each and every one of our handmade products. Read more>>

Amanda Wicker | Business Consultant and Co Founder of Facetté Medical Spa and Facetté | The Hair Experience

I had been in the industry I loved for almost 20 years and was blessed to be able to help bring other peoples vision to Life and have overwhelming success. I loved every step but when you are building someone else’s dream there are still limitations. Every step of that journey brought me closer to Facetté which was bringing my and my partners’ dream alive! I want to leave the industry I love better than when I found it. I’ve learned Sometimes to see change you have to be the the change which is why we started our own business. Empowering business owners and seeing small businesses flourish is an incredible passion for me. I know from personal experience how rewarding, challenging and satisfying starting and owning a business can be. It was a natural progression in life to be a business owner. I have been a leader in the industry for years, so I was up to the challenge! This is also why I choose to become a business consultant, to help other entrepreneurs be successful without as many challenges. This sets my soul on fire. Read more>>

Oliiva Youngs | Cafe Owner, Sustainability Writer

I’m somewhat of a “serial entrepreneur” and have been starting mini-businesses since I was a child. However, none of them stuck until I began freelance writing for myself and, eventually, pursued my dream of opening a coffee shop. Less of a thought-process and more of a pushing gently on opening doors until they opened fully, I’d say. Read more>>

Cara Pernas | Reiki practitioner & Music Educator

I have been a music educator for 10 years, and I absolutely love my job. However, I could not deny the calling within for energy healing. After getting attuned as a Reiki practitioner in the beautiful mountains of Boulder, Colorado, I realized that this journey was just beginning. I was being called to serve. This was the initial spark. This spark is now fully ablaze! My passion to serve others and aide in their healing has grown tremendously and inspired me to get my business started. Read more>>

Sharon Cleere | Meditation Guide and Mindfulness Coach

I was a busy body working a corporate job and like so many of us, experiencing major burnout. I was living with years of bad mental habits and unhealed trauma. I was diagnosed with depression, ADHD, and PTSD. I sought relief from medication and therapy but was still silently suffering. I knew I needed to take a different approach to regain balance in my life. I left my job, home, relationships, and lifestyle in search of answers. As I traveled the world, I was relearning to navigate my inner world. Along the way, I found myself in an ashram in India where I became a certified yoga instructor and meditation guide. The world has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need when you are open to it. Within days of returning to the United States, as if the stars had aligned themselves, I met someone who was opening a meditation studio. I haven’t stopped teaching since. Today, I run my own mobile meditation studio and continue to travel in an airstream. I host classes all over the United States (when safe to do so) and online to people all over the world. Read more>>

Vickie Martina, MSW, CRMT | Intuitive Energy Healer & Counselor

I thought about creating a private healing practice that would combine both my MSW counseling skills and my Reiki Master/Teacher training for a holistic approach to healing body, mind, spirit, and heart. I am passionate about helping women heal and also expanded my practice to offer Divine Feminine empowerment pathways for women through my Moon Circles. Read more>>

Dr. Zach Harmon | Sports Medicine Physical Therapist and Weightlifter

I became a physical therapist to help people move and feel better, so they can enjoy life to the fullest. Good healthcare depends on spending the time to build trust and deliver positive results for every patient. But today, insurance companies emphasize quantity over quality, so patients often don’t get the high quality of care they deserve. When people are in an injured or vulnerable state, the last thing they want to feel is like they aren’t being heard or aren’t being prioritized. Our communities and patients deserve more from their healthcare experience. That’s why I started my own practice. We focus on the patient’s entire healthcare experience. Because we don’t directly contract with insurance companies, we can take the time to treat you as a whole person. We can ask questions about sleep, stress, and the workouts you do. We can collaborate with other health professionals to ensure that we address both your body and mind to ensure you get the results you’re looking for. Read more>>