Deciding to start a business is an unusual decision. It’s often considered irrational and yet for many it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. So we asked folks to think back to when they were starting their businesses and to tell us about their decision making process.

Viktoriia Kalinina | Artist and Muralist

For more than 10 years I’ve been working for different companies: few years teaching in University in Russia, Guiding in Butterfly Wonderland, cooking and serving in a restaurant in US and everywhere I’ve faced the same issues: I was constanly under preasure, no chances to grow and learn something new and my schedule was so busy that I simply didn’t have time to do art or any other things I love so much with very little vacation opportunities. So one day I realized that I want to become a captain of my life, to be able to control my schedule, to be able to take vacations and travel with my family when I want it, not when it’s more convenient for my employer. I knew it was a risk to quit a stable job and start my own business but it’s so much worth it! I’m so happy to do what I love every day, I have a total control of my schedule and I feel like I grew my wings back and enjoy my freedom. Read more>>

Dubs | Upcoming Rapper

I’ve always been passionate about music and when I finally had the opportunity to start releasing it I did, me and some of my closest friends came together and decided to build a company behind the whole movement. Read more>>

John Welch | Owner & Engineer | Steadfast AZ Woodworks

I went back to college at 27 years of age after realizing I peaked in my position at the time. When I went back, I told myself that I wouldn’t let anything get in my way of obtaining my bachelors degree in mechanical engineering. While I was in school I was juggling part time work, my beautiful wife, and our two kids, I realized I needed to make extra money on the side due to my inconsistent school schedule. At the time I was only working a few days a week serving/bartending at a small pizza joint barely making ends meet. I had built my first barn door for our home, since the size of the opening was larger than usual, so not something you can buy at a big box store. Read more>>

Michael Hopper | Mobile Bartender

I love creating great drinks for people, I thought what better way to do it then giving them a personal experience on some of the best days of their lives. Whether that be their wedding day, a significant birthday, or just a small get together with their really close friends. Read more>>

Aleisa Stone | Juicer

I enjoy the benefits of organic pressed juice, and I would like to share it with others as well. I fell in love with combining flavors together and the amazing energy you feel that comes with it. I wanted to create something that described me in the best way “Introverted”. I’ve always been that way since I can remember. At the same time I enjoy talking to people and getting to know people, then running back to my room to recharge for the day, lol. My favorite part of creating juices is creating a name for the juice. As soon as I taste the juice and look at the color, right away I instantly say the name of it out loud. Read more>>

Antonio Myti Brown | Actor & Health and Fitness Coach

Great question! My thought process always starts with asking myself, “What am I passionate about?” Then “What am I passionate about that someone would pay me for?” My mom always told me, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day”. So starting with what I’m passionate about that I can get paid for is the starting point. Also, finding a mentor. Someone who’s successful and has been in my shoes that I can learn from. Then it’s about developing a business plan and executing the plan with consistent action. And to open minded… ALWAYS BE A STUDENT and keep learning about my craft so I can be the BEST! Read more>>

Chelsea Foglio | Owner of The Boho Disco

I believe the thought process behind starting my own business really can be simplified into one word: independence. The idea of being my own boss has been a pipe dream of mine that I’ve always been chasing after. I got a taste for this professional independence during the handful of times that I have done freelance work while doing makeup. En route to the job locations, I remember being in my car and speaking out loud/ singing to myself, unable to contain the immense amount of happiness I felt in that moment. This exact moment was a perfect representation to me of what the freedom enabled by independence feels like. And since then, I have only been able to feel that form of happiness when I work for myself. Read more>>

Blake Adam | Creator & Host

To be honest, the idea to start my own podcast was more of a passion project more than a business. I wanted to do something creative and fun and expressive, and doing a podcast on one of my favorite TV shows seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that! I linked up with two of my friends who also love The Real Housewives and the show was created pretty quickly. It wasn’t until we had been doing the show consistently for a year or so when we started thinking of ways to really amplify our voices and broaden the reach of this community we had created amongst our listeners – our church! Monetization was they key to this, and once we started working with brand sponsors the game really changed for us. Our passion project was now a full-fledged brand! Read more>>

Abby Chan | Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition | Yoga Instructor

My now husband, Brain, and I started EVOLVE Flagstaff five years ago. I am a Registered Dietitian with a background in strength training and yoga. Brian is a Physical Therapist with a background in Crossfit and strength training. We created an integrative practice that combines nutrition, physical therapy and injury prevention, and training. We did this because we found that there was a deficit in the market for health professionals interacting in the fitness and wellness space with an evidence-based scope that was also integrated among professionals. Read more>>

Kaitlyn Roberson | Hand dyed Clothing designer

What was your thought process behind starting your own business? To be honest I did not think I would have my own business. I started off by dying clothing as a hobby. I had a lot going on in my life, I needed to find something to distract myself from everything going on around me. I love bright colors and I love clothes. What girl doesn’t? I self taught. I watched a lot of tutorials on what to do and what not to do. I went out and bought Rit dye at first, I bought plain white T-shirts and just started experimenting with all these different colors. I did this everyday, for hours at a time. I started this hobby last winter, so it’s been a year now. I would sit outside for hours dying shirts just for fun. Read more>>

Cory Oppold | Chef

The business “Simmer Down” started during the pandemic. When the Restaurants shut down I tried to come up with a unique way for people to easily make a nice enjoyable dinner. The ease and convenience of Cryovaced foods came to mind. Simmer Down refers to the heating of the foods but also referred to the idea of remaining calm during a time of panic. After the restaurants reopened, the business transferred over to “in-home dining” called “COURSE”. I specialize in multi course dining so it was an easy platform to transfer over to doing six courses in the homes of guests. The menu changes every two months. Guests usually book online with the date and number of guests they are having. I then arrive at their house in an hour and a half before dinner to set up, cook and serve them six courses. Read more>>

Chris Spear | Chef/Owner

I was at a point in my career where i was starting to get tired of cooking other peoples food so i wanted to branch out and start cooking mine and feeding people! Read more>>

Brig Woods | Performance Physical Therapist

First of all, I was working for a large national physical therapy practice. I was tired of working for someone else and not getting the support I needed from the organization as I ran clinics for them. Secondly, and the most important thing, I knew the amount of time and energy I wanted to devote to my family and my community. I knew that I would never be able to give that kind of time to them if I was constantly working and grinding for someone else. I wanted the ability to create time, financial freedom, and create generational wealth for the future. When working for someone else it’s tough to create a schedule that allows you to see your kids off to school, be there when they get home, and create the kinds of experiences and memories that I want to create for me, my wife, and our children. Read more>>

Angelia Malbrew | Creative Image Director

I have always loved photography! I’ve had a camera since I was about 12 years old. However, starting my business came from a place of hurt and severe disappointment. My husband and I were married in 2017. I hired a photographer that I had known for several years. I trusted him and I fired another photographer that I hired to support and do business with a familiar face. That turned out to be one of the worst decisions I made during my wedding planning process! This photographer didn’t show up to my wedding, he sent people I didn’t know, ignored my calls and the images were horrible! I received 1600 subpar images and only 8 were edited… The edited images were that of a beginner. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I trusted this photographer and I knew his work, this wasn’t it. I paid him a travel fee and the amount he requested, I don’t understand why he would do this to me. Read more>>

Diego Robles | Entrepreneur

I always knew I had a desire to start a business but I never knew what I wanted to do. When the pandemic hit and the world was shut down, I didn’t want to be at home and do nothing. I wanted to come out of quarantine a better version of myself. I always liked to work out but I really started to double down and focus during the 6 weeks in quarantine to come back and shock the people I know. During that time I thought of an idea to start my own brand of active wear. Coming from a Latin background I also wanted to highlight that aspect as well, I lost sleep because of how excited I was to come up with something great. That’s how Aztec strength was made. Read more>>

Anjali Ranadive | Forensic Scientist, Attorney and Group Fitness Instructor

I wanted the freedom of time that comes with being your own boss. I knew it would be a challenge but I am self motivated and organized enough that I knew I would be diligent when needed. I liked the idea of being able to pick and choose projects based on whether they fulfilled me vs accepting work because I needed the income Read more>>

Kiley Eskridge-Franz | Softball Coach

I have a true passion for coaching fast pitch softball and was presented with an opportunity to run my own organization – an opportunity I could not pass up on. Helping impact young athletes is probably the most rewarding feeling ever, however youth sports is becoming more and more “watered down”. So, I wanted to do something “different” in the organized youth sports world. I had this dream of creating this business that would make this more than just the sport and treat it more so like a college prep program. I knew it would take work and be a “grind” and was ready for that challenge and decided to call my organization, Grind Time Sports. Read more>>

James Castaneda | Videographer & Story Teller

Starting my own business was always a faint dream of mine that was held captive by the fear of failing. The mindset of “job security” always seemed to rattle a bit louder than other thoughts in my head. Especially now that I have a family and others under my care. But at the end of it all I had to decide what the term ‘success’ actually looks like. It took me many years to accept that success doesn’t just mean Money. Yes, I have bills to pay, and yes, I have many responsibilities to manage, but am I doing what I love? Once, I accepted this mindset it was almost a no-brainer. Pursuing my passion has brought me the success I’ve been longing for without even realizing it’s what I’ve needed all along. Now, I’m thrilled I can offer a service that tells the story of others in the best way I know how. Read more>>

Kendra & Brian Ward | Founders of 4WARD Project

Our son, Eric, was a soldier in the Ohio National Guard. He was born at Fort Hood when both of us were active duty Army. He’d always wanted to join the military, so we thought it was great he’d found a way to do so and pursue an aviation career through Bowling Green State University. On August 22, 2016, Eric took his own life. We were a close family, just the four of us. Of course, we loved each other but we also liked each other. Our family spent a lot of time together – us, Eric, and our daughter, Baylee. Read more>>

Naramsin Marokeel | Small E-Commerce Business Owner

The thought process behind starting my own business is in the way I grew up in a very traditional Assyrian household. I didn’t grow up with many Assyrians, especially in school, and I think that’s what encouraged me today to start AssyrianPride. I’ve always been obsessed with my people’s ancient history and I wanted to showcase it in a new form for people who have no idea what the word “Assyrian” represents. I wanted to bring inclusivity to the name. I wanted people to wear merchandise that proudly displays Assyrian culture/heritage and explain what it is and represents, even if they aren’t Assyrian. For such an ancient name and culture, there are still many people out there who have no idea who we are and I would love to be the person to introduce them to it. Read more>>