We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Lauren Manzke | Healing and Energy Practitioner

After teaching Elementary School for ten years, I was totally tired of being tired. I felt like I was watching myself and so many people in my life feel numb to even recognizing their own exhaustion. I did not want to get sick. I wanted to thrive and feel amazing. It was time to slow down and reconnect with my Heart’s longing….Heck, it was time for the world to slow down and care for themselves too! I heard about reiki while living in Denver, CO. After receiving bi-monthly treatments for two years, I realized that the unseen forces of nature are quite powerful. Healing energies are readily available for all of us to feel our best (if we know how to use them)! My curiosity piqued around the health benefits of energy work, particularly epigenetics. I felt inspired by people who have changed their lives by merely utilizing ancient energies and engaging in practices that create life-altering effects. Read more>>

Kylie Strawn | Social Media Marketing

Starting a business is always scary to do but when I started my business I want to not only make an impact in people’s businesses but I also want to help people be more successful. I saw a need for my business when I would hear the horror stories of I have been creating content all day and I still don’t know what to do or I want to grow my business but I don’t have social media. Once I started to work with small businesses like Realtors and Interior Designers I realized that I could take this off their plate and be able to give them the chance to focus on other things and not get caught up in social media. Read more>>

Josie Emch | Owner

At age 5, I asked for chalkboard so I could teach my dolls their ABC’s. I always knew that I wanted to be an educator and most importantly, work with kids. After watching my mother (a teacher of 36 years) I was certain that education was the career path for me. However, due to minimal pay within the teaching profession, I decided to explore other options. I soon realized, during my last year of college at the age of 20 that I wanted to start a company that was built around helping provide education and care to children. Hence, Sitters Select was born! Offering exclusive babysitting, pet sitting and house sitting services while also providing supplementary income for education majors and current AZ teachers. Together, the business has grown as Sitters Select is far more than a babysitting service but an educational euphoria of opportunity for both clients and employees. Read more>>

Amanda Dunn | Founder & Creator

I created Wild Caught Co a few years ago after I had been doing custom hand lettering work for weddings. I thought it would be fun to take the lettering I was doing and place it on products. I wanted to create unique sayings that you don’t often see other places. Read more>>

Ryan Riek | Business Owner, Diamond Jeweler & Wholesaler

My thought process behind starting my own business was allowing myself the confidence and mental fortitude to working independently. I knew I was given that opportunity and understood the benefits of its outcome if I had really accomplished the goal. Read more>>

Kelly Kussman | Owner

Throughout my nearly 20 years in retail, I have always been fascinated with how deeply personal fragrance is to an individual not only in its ability to evoke emotion but also to encourage a tangible connection to past experiences; the connection between scent and memory is so strong! How many times have you smelled something that can literally transport you back to a specific moment in time? How many times have you smelled something that reminds you of someone else? I wanted to bottle that feeling (literally) and build a brand that harnesses these memories so people are almost wearing more than a perfume – they’re really feeling something. After personally experiencing a few years of heartbreak, I decided it was time to finally start my dream business and focus on putting my energy into creating something beautiful I could put into the world. Read more>>

Mary Spencer | Creative Entrepreneur

My husband and I are in business together. I probably was the driving factor in wanting our own business. It’s just something I’ve dreamed about since I was little. I’ve enjoyed all the jobs I’ve had leading up to this point, but I always had a yearning to do my own thing. We started in baby steps with Jon starting out in 2007 while I still had a full time job. He had wanted a change in career and was exploring different options. It sort of just fell into place. I handled the business side and he did the creative work. After the company I worked for shut their doors in the location I was working at in the 2009 recession, I secretly rejoiced as now I was given the opportunity to create my own destiny and we then were able to expand our business. Read more>>

Lakshmi Venkataramu

My name is Lakshmi Venkataramu, an engineer by profession, an artist and creator by passion! Coming from a family full of enthusiastic artists and musicians, developing an interest towards art and music came naturally to me. I spent most of my childhood watching my mom paint and dad build wood structures. Following the usual path, I completed my Bachelors and later Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and started working for a reputed semiconductor company. After my daughter Saanvi was born, I realized how exciting it was to have a baby girl and spent most of my time in making hair accessories. Then came my discovery of sewing machine! Man O Man, did I mention fabric? I went on a sewing spree and started stitching dresses for my little one. Read more>>

Steve Taddie | Partner at HoyleCohen Wealth Management

I learned how the industry worked from some great folks over the years, and thought I could make a difference if I started my own firm. At that time, technology was emerging that allowed a small firm to get big firm access to information and services at a reasonable cost. Having my income correlated to business growth is something I got comfortable with early in my career, and taking the step to open my own firm simply magnified the reward side of the equation. Additionally, having a great partner in marriage that was a professional in her own right, reduced the downside risk of going out on my own. Read more>>

Sandra Marshall | Artist & Business Owner

The thought process behind starting my business Be… An Artist studio is a funny story. I was walking through a shopping plaza with my two children who were seven and ten at the time. They looked into the window of an empty storefront that was for lease. My son said, “Mom. Here is your new business! Call the number on the window.” My daughter got my phone and said, “Yes Mom. Call now!” She grabbed my phone for me and I called the number. I thought this would be a perfect example to show my children how to start and run a business. I told them before I called that this would be their business too, so they better be prepared! Read more>>

Nancy Hill | Printer

The was a serious lack of thought process. My friend and I had 60 hr a week jobs but we loved paper and typography – so we wanted to buy a little tabletop press. I checked out Craigslist and, instead, found a letterpress shop in Apache Junction for sale. We bought it. Just one press and a lot of other equipment and type. Over the years I have discovered that letterpress printing is a disease – as I now have 6 printing presses and even more type. I have moved it all 3 times and have no plans to move it again. Grand Avenue is the best place to be. Read more>>

Cyntoni, Saidou Miller, Diallo | CEO & COO

Our thought process behind BOTJ was simple, how can we impact the lives of black people right now? We found that black people were not getting access to affordable career services and we decided to provide a solution. Read more>>

Melissa Pickering | Pastry Pro & Founder

Food is love. And like many people, my fondest memories involve food – sharing a meal with loved ones during the holidays, eating out a great restaurant with friends, or learning to bake in my grandmother’s kitchen. I’ve also been fortunate that I’ve never had to worry about where my next meal will come from. But for 1 in 5 people in Arizona, approximately 38% of which are children, that is not the case. As my career naturally gravitated towards working in kitchens, I became acutely aware of the amount of food that is wasted – at many levels and for many reasons, not just in restaurants – meanwhile knowing that so many people in our state are food insecure. I decided to do something about this. My initial inclination was to try to rescue and redistribute the food myself or with help from volunteers. However, the logistical and cost issues were such that this did not seem feasible on top of my current work. Read more>>