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 Tiedeman | Photographer & Artist

It all started with a camera. I could tell you all of my recent graduation money had burned a hole in my pocket or I could let you believe that I walked into a Best Buy and I was just drawn to the camera. Both are true! With a couple hundred dollars in my bank account and my incessant need to create, I took a leap and made the biggest purchase of my young adult life. I remember friends thinking I was crazy to have wasted such a large amount of money on a ‘shiny new toy.’ But in all honesty, all of the negative talk I received just fueled me even more to create something successful. Read more>>

Crickette Gill | Comedian, Author, & Owner of AlligatorCigsApparel

I had always wanted to do something independent of a basic 9 to 5. I tried so many different things – launched a t-shirt company called AlligatorCigs Apparel in 2017, wrote a book (Uncle: The Dark Family Secrete (2016)), started a publishing company (published a second book called Gay, God and Grace by Antoinette Pralour), started doing cannabis strain reviews on YouTube, launched the Chatterbox w/Crickette radio show, and the YouTube version, and I started making handcrafted Pandora Boxes for cannabis users. I tried everything I could think of. Comedy was the last thing on my mind. Read more>>

Cindy Brown | Public Speaker, 1;1 Family Coach, Parent Roundtable Facilitator

As I prepared to wrap up my 30 year career in education, it was becoming more and more common to see elementary aged students showing signs of depression, anxiety and lack of motivation. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with more than 800 families helping parents and students balance home life, emotions, and learning experiences. What I came to realize is that a child’s mindset is very powerful and thoughts or internal beliefs often remain present in the mind from a very young age through adolescence to young adulthood. Read more>>

Tego Schoenemann | Personal Trainer & Boxing/Kickboxing Instructor

Starting my own business was really more a product of the environment than a concerted effort/idea. I had just gotten my personal training certificate and my degree when the Pandemic hit, and the two gyms I was working at at the time both closed down for quarantine. Luckily for me I had bought my own home gym equipment a few years prior, and decided to take training into my own hands. That was when I started Tego’s Dojo. I was able to start small, helping friends and family until it grew into what it is today. I have been solo ever since, but really it took that first leap of faith for me to know it was possible; I think without the pandemic I would still be at big box gyms. Read more>>

Sherri Stryker | Travel Agent

My husband Dave and I had been live-in managers of Senior Retirement Communities for the last 10-12 yrs. The last 2 years during COVID-19 wasn’t the easiest of jobs. When we were presented the chance to move back to our home in Arizona, we jumped at it. One thing I learned from my Senior residents was to go for it. I needed to concentrate on what would make me feel again.
So when the opportunity to open my own business landed in front of me, I had to go for it. Travel isn’t going anywhere. We’ve learned if you lock people up for any length of time, our first instinct is to travel someplace- anyplace Read more>>

Noor Nassar | Program Manager & Etsy Shop Owner

I was always obsessed with collecting unique stickers to decorate my laptop. I wanted to find ways to express parts of my identity and was always on the hunt for stickers that were reminiscent of my culture. When I couldn’t find the ones that truly represented me, I started drawing my own. It started off as a project to create stickers for myself and expanded once I realized people were interested in my stickers enough to purchase them. I started my Etsy shop last year and have been loving it since. Read more>>

Allex Looper | Creative Virtual Assistant

I think I’d always known in the back of my mind that I wanted to own my own business. For me, the big thing was getting to create my own schedule and to be able to do something that really meant something to me. The thought of sitting in a cubicle from 9-5 for the rest of my days always gave me a pit in my stomach. So, my thought process of starting my own business was to get to do creative freelance work and be able to do it whenever and wherever I want. Read more>>

Chuck Taylor | Photographer | Videographer | Graphic Designer

I am a retired Airforce Firefighter – retired commodities trader – I attended U Of P achieved my MBA after completing my B of A at Arizona State. I worked for many years for a good company – I’m happy to say I achieved many of my personal goals; life was good. However, it was time for a new adventure, and I wanted to do something I enjoyed for the next chapter of my life. I picked up a camera I soon realized I was hooked. After putting my and my partner Dee’s skills together, we realized that we could offer a genuine product and services, and we are good at it; bonus, it was something we enjoyed doing. We live and breathe this stuff. So our company Adventurepiece came about. Read more>>

Michael Merendino | Restaurant Owner

My original thought process is very different than the one I have today, 14 years later. My original thought was to open a small little Pizza & Italian restaurant where I can cook scratch Italian food, have fun serving guests and get to enjoy all the “restaurant things” I grew to love up to that point in my life. Today, I get to enjoy things much differently as there is a whole business part of it that I was not prepared for. I went into opening a restaurant blinded by serving food from the years of being a waiter and a line cook in my previous jobs. With that said, I wouldn’t change a thing.. I love what I do!! Read more>>

Jesse Villwock | Hairstylist & LGBTQ+ Advocate

When I opened my salon, Citrine Hair Lounge, I wanted to host a safe and inclusive environment for all my clients. Connecting with them is by far the best part of my job, so that’s what I honed in on. We get to come in everyday to a space where it is intentional and cozy. A lot of salons are geared at lots of foot traffic, fun music, loud chatter, and talking all the new and latest with your clients. Although I believe salons like this are necessary and fun, I wanted to go deeper and dive further in the connections I’ve built within my community. Read more>>

Kristiana Engelhardt | Naturopathic Medical Student

I started my business/blog as a second year medical student. My goal is to make it an educational platform for the general public, in which I share my interests and knowledge of various medical topics that I learn in school along the way. I want people to have the ability to learn about the human body, nutrition, diseases, and other health concerns in a fun and easy manner. Read more>>

Mycal Anders, EMGM, MS, CSCS | Performance Consultant

In 2011 Next Level Performance Consulting was created to guide people to live life at their highest frequency in their physical, emotional, mental & spiritual states of being. As a Performance Consultant, I use physical development as a gateway to unlock a leader’s boundless potential and create space to be present for the things that matter. Essentially making our clients a priority for themselves again! Read more>>

Analisa Buelna | Photographer & Videographer

To be completely transparent, there was no thought process I went through when I started Photography Pinch. No meticulous planning, no financing, no nothing. Just a young teenager with a passion for photo and film. I started photography and videography when I was 14 years old. I didn’t own a camera or any fancy software. Hadn’t even taken any classes on film or photography. I would say I used this hobby to escape from reality. My mom had been undergoing treatment when my passion first grew and when she passed in 2015 from cancer, I threw myself into it further. Read more>>

Kahlia Smith | Founder of AMOR DEUS & Fashion Marketer

Starting AMOR DEUS was always a thought. Growing up I loved fashion and getting dressed and I hope to one day get back to clothes but my favorite part of getting dressed was adding jewelry. The older I got and had to afford my own lifestyle I realized how much money and time I was spending on buying and searching for jewelry due to it tarnishing. I decided to combine my knowledge and passion into creating a premium jewelry line that is water and sweat resistant so that you no longer have temporary jewelry, but long lasting jewelry where you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look great. Once I knew my why the rest flowed effortlessly. Read more>>

Michaela Love | Wig Maker & Lace Artist

There were actually a few things behind my thought process with the beginning of my business. I wanted to not only create wigs but also install them as well. I wanted to be able to create beautiful wig units that are also affordable. I am a mom that likes to look good and sometime some of my favorite things are out of reach because my family comes first. So I can relate with other moms/women who share this same type of thought behind getting their hair done, It can become expensive. Read more>>

Natalie Andrews | Voice Coach

As a voice coach, my specialty is collaborating with people to figure out how they want to inhabit and tell their stories through the lens of voice. My background in studying the voice started in the context of professional actor training. And while developing the voice has historically been confined to a performer’s niche, I’ve been following in the footsteps of some great thinkers in the voice pedagogy field who see how vocal knowledge and skill sets can benefit everyone. By starting my own voice coaching business, I have become a bit of an advocate for this kind of work, and encourage anyone who is willing to listen to give voice coaching a shot. Read more>>