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.

Annie Kelley | Floral Designer

Actually to keep my sanity! Context is so important here, as I began my business in 2020 during Covid. Like so many others, I was home with my kids and was trying to find a balance of keeping myself centered while guiding them through online learning. So I decided, in a way, to join them and go to school too! I trained virtually with one of the most prominent florists in the world, via their online school, and absolutely fell in love with floral design. Read more>>

Santiago Mussi Tiscornia | Architect

I didn’t really have to think about it too much; I never doubted it for a minute. At the time, I was just one year out of university and working for a very good Architecture firm in London when the opportunity arose to design and build two small houses down un Patagonia, Argentina. Before going to London, I had designed and built my first house for my family, a 350 square foot cabin in the woods outside of San Carlos de Bariloche. It was a true family endeavor, working together from start to finish, including the framing and all the finishes. That was the first time I realized that I wanted to lead my own projects and work very hands-0n to see them come to life. Read more>>

Bren Husher | Permanent Makeup Artist

I really love what I do and am very independent. I never really liked working at salons or for other people. I was more motivated to do it on my own than try to fit in or conform to someone else’s business model. Plus, I thought it would be fun to put my own spin on permanent makeup. And now I am my own boss! Read more>>

Andy Sweet | Community Barber

If it weren’t for living in Fort Collins I wouldn’t be a barber. You see back then I had a roommate and friend named Unsoled that owned a shoe store that I knew from skating/Bmx that got me into tattoos. At that time is was in 2009 I’d say and a cool new barbershop called Scissors & Sinners was getting started in Old Town. How that relates to tattoos is that the barber that started Scissors & Sinners is named Melissa and she is Curtis Burgess’ sister. Read more>>

Liz Merrill | Divorce mediator and coach

I started my own business because I couldn’t get anyone to hire me! I’ve worked professionally as a classical musician for decades (which does not pay the bills, let me tell you), but had quit my “day job” when I had kids, even as I kept playing in orchestras. When I got divorced and my 3 daughters got older, I figured it was time to go back in what I had been doing before, which was technical writing. I figured – I’m still a good writer, I’ve got 2 degrees, how hard can it be to get back into the field? Well, turns out I was either too old, or had too big a gap in my resume, or overqualified, or too something, but I couldn’t get hired to do that or really anything else that paid the bills. Read more>>

Luke MacNeil | Creative Mercenary

I worked in tech for most of my career, writing code and managing IT infrastructure. That’s been a passion of mine since I was about 12 years old. Working for tech companies afforded me the ability to travel quite a bit on business, and during this time I picked up a camera to explore the areas that I was sent to. I spent a lot of time in San Fransisco and learned photography by walking the streets and climbing the fire escapes out there at night with my camera. Read more>>

Taylor Davenport | Photographer

To be honest I never thought I would be owning my own photography business. Right after high School I went to a Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and was planning to become an art teacher . I was there for 2 years and then a friend of mine was planning to get married and ask me to photograph her wedding. At this point I had only been shooting film photography and a little digital. let’s just say after that wedding back in 2017 Taylor Davenport photography was created. I have been a full time photographer for little over a year and it has been so amazing.I never thought that my love for photography would turn into my career, where I get to photograph people in love in the places they love. I am incredibly honored that My clients trust and allow me to be part of such intimate moments, moments that they are able to save for a lifetime. Read more>>

Michelle Fultz | Cosmetologist/Salon owner

I wanted my own freetime. I realized the salon I loved working for was a toxic environment and it was affecting my mental health. I needed a more open schedule so I could have some family time with my kids and husband during the weekends. Read more>>

Jacob Corley | Massage Therapist and Movement Specialist

When I started Optimal Wellness in 2018, I wanted to change the massage therapy industry by developing evidence based treatment protocols that produce consistent results for pain relief. The general consensus is that approximately $90 billion is spent on low back pain every year, and an additional $10 to $20 billion is attributed to economic losses in productivity each year. Once I found out how deep of an impact pain has on our society, I made it my life’s mission to make an positive impact on this problem and help as many people as possible with their chronic pain. Read more>>

Bridget Leahy | Businesswoman

In 2016, I participated in a study abroad program in Amman, Jordan through my university. I lived in Jordan for 3 months trying to improve my Arabic language skills and assimilate into the Jordanian culture. I spent my days speaking Arabic almost exclusively and doing homework in the hookah cafes throughout the city. I had soon been introduced to the “hookah culture” which was widely popular in Jordan, and I fell in love with it. I then returned to the University of Denver to continue my studies in international relations and pursued a career path in research and office management in Washington, D.C. At this point, the world could’ve been my oyster. I was in D.C., Read more>>

John Stenberg | Upper Cervical Chiropractor

Like many new businesses, I saw an unmet need that my skills were well positioned to meet. As a chiropractor, I pursued a focus in Upper Cervical care which blends nicely the latest advancements in imaging, assessment, and hands on delivery of care. Colorado Springs is no different than most medium-sized cities in that chiropractic care is not new here, but Upper Cervical care was under represented in the market. Read more>>

Gabi Scott | Arts Accessibility Ambassador, Graphic Designer and Art Educator

Elle Creative has evolved out of my experiences both as a professional and volunteer over the last 20 years. I have worked with fellow artists, makers, and educators through arts organizations, a STEAM education organization, and art and children’s museums. I call this group of people Creative Entrepreneurs and found that they all have varying needs and skills when it comes to their own enterprises. While many small business resources are helpful to Creative Entrepreneurs, they aren’t quite tailored to creatives’ needs. Read more>>

Marion Reeb | Instagram Vintage Reseller @midmodmarion

It may surprise you to know that I actually didn’t set out to start my own business! When I moved to Colorado Springs in 2018, I purchased a mid century home with the clear vision of furnishing it with period decor. I have been a casual thrifter and collector my entire life, with a strong connection to the mid-century style. With a mostly empty home to furnish and not a lot of cash, I began going to estate sales hours early, hitting the thrift store circuit daily and following signs to yard sales across the city. Just for fun, I began posting about my mid century finds, and quickly realized that I was not alone in my love of all things vintage. Read more>>

Abby Wilson | Owner + Sr. Copywriter at Abby Elise Creative LLC

After I had my first baby, my daughter Winnie Lane, I knew I needed to find a way to be with her while not losing sight of the profession that I love. I started Abby Elise Creative LLC in 2016 because of my angel girl. It was a thrilling yet frightening time because for so long my identity had hinged on my work. When I left my full-time job as a writer at Ogilvy, I was determined to maintain those relationships as a freelancer — and also cultivate new relationships with people in different industries I was passionate about, such as fashion, beauty, and outdoor lifestyle. Read more>>

Brieanna (Boo) Radford | Artist, Curator, and Marketer

When I first began my business, Boo Radford,, I had just moved from a few rough years in Los Angeles, where my art-making had pretty much dried up. I no longer created, because I existed in a hustle without even the slightest “in”. The art world in Los Angeles and New York were so heavily based on knowing the right people, that my ability to create was snuffed out in the process of navigating those art worlds. When I moved to the mountains in Colorado, the freedom to create hung in the air. It was seeped in every word at the Gunnison Arts Center, where I curate the galleries. It was praised and encouraged amongst creative competitors. In the mountains, art was thriving. Read more>>

Arielle Gerke | Equine training, sales and lessons

In starting my own business it was important that I use my talents to successfully retrain and sell horses after they have completed their career on the racetrack. The thought behind this would be to place horses in an environment where they would be matched with a long term partner and continue their career as an athlete in a different discipline. Mostly consisting of placement with Hunter Jumper facilities ranging from beginning riders under professional coaching and professional riders competing. Another part of my business is sharing my experience by instructing students on the overall respect and tradition of the equine industry. Read more>>

Jake & Mollie Shipman | Regenerative Farmers

My husband, Jake, already had his own business as an electrical contractor and was familiar with the ins and outs of being a small business owner. I had worked for a regional medical center as a registered dietitian nutritionist for 10 years and was frustrated with the confines of protocol that working for a large hospital brought. We both tend to be independent thinkers and personalities so starting up our own farm business made a lot of sense. Read more>>

Bruce McClintock | Founder and Chief Exploration Officer

I was lucky to have many climbing and hiking mentors over the years, starting with my first 14er summit (Pikes Peak) with my Boy Scout troop at age 13. Not everyone is as lucky as I was to have dedicated mentors and beginners often get into unpleasant situations or have bad experiences as a result. I decided to start Hike for Life to provide beginners an opportunity to hike and explore with experienced guides. We began with focus on three key elements: NURTURE community, INSPIRE responsible exploration and help PRESERVE the great outdoors. Since starting in late 2017 we’ve grown to a committed team of guides and staff that are devoted to helping other explore responsibly. Read more>>

Brittany Huston | Artist/Illustrator, hobby farmer, and special needs mother

Desperation. Ok, well that is only part of the reason, but it was a driving force. I started my Awareness Critters art business because I was desperate to find help for my family. I have two medically complex children with Rare diseases. I couldn’t control things like insurance, mounting medical bills, what the doctors did or didn’t do, or even how my children were feeling (that is a hard one when you are a new parent and your child is in such deep pain and you can’t do anything to help them). That left me feeling deeply desperate for some kind of control. Read more>>

Frank Baer | Mixed media artist based on abstract photography

The decision to become a full time artist was a decision at the end of a journey. This occupation (compelling obsession) found me. In fact I had not previously considered a career as an artist, even though I have been creating art since I was a kid. After 35 years as an Information Technology professional, I left a job of 14 years to care for a family member across country with a broken leg. Before deciding my next opportunity, I decided to take a sight seeing tour of the west. Of course I took my camera. One place I visited was Seattle and while there I visited the large ferris wheel and took some pictures. Read more>>

Candi Counts | Owner of Candi’s Cupcakes

When I decided I wanted to have a business I had already seen how happy just simple cupcakes can bring to other people, children and adults. I really loved knowing that I was able to contribute to that with something I was doing for fun at the time. I realized I was really interested in becoming official, so my husband and I started passing out samples and asking for feedback. We focused on which flavors everyone liked, welcomed any negative feedback so that we could really pick out everything that brought them the most happiness. Read more>>